There's a lot that can be said about a band like Down and if you had hair on your testicles in the early 90's, you've probably heard it all. Still, for those out there who have just gotten back from the Trivium show; Down feature current and former members of Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowbar and Eyehategod - four bands who inarguably ensured southern metal stayed relevant throughout the past two decades.
Over the years, and especially in recent times, the band and its members have all had their trials and tribulations. Despite their collective problems though, it is the plight of frontman Phil Anselmo, whose legendary self-destructive behavior led him from being a ferocious tattooed warrior to a self-medicated slurring mess in Pantera, that takes center stage. Now clean and humble, nearly each song sounds like a soul-bearing healing process for him and his honesty greatly extends into the boldly upfront lyrical content.
Aside from a few questionable (albeit trademark Anselmo) overdubs, backing up his raspy clean singing and gruff barks are a wealth of riffs Black Sabbath probably would have written if they grew up in the bayou, plus a hearty rhythm section that brings the southern hospitality to a head. Despite its purgative nature though, "Down III: Over The Under" doesn't come off as a sob story and it has some gratingly heavy numbers to prove it. The propulsive grooves that anchor tracks like "Pillamyd" and "Three Suns And One Star" are easily amongst the finest the band has ever written.
The road-weathered emotion tempered by numerous tragedies on hand here just can't be forced. Few bands other than Down could release an album where creativity isn't shoehorned into a record label's release schedule or disappear for five years and return stronger than all. But that's only because even fewer bands, that is if any, have a bunch of reconnected metal lifers in them ready to expunge their demons through some of the most genuine, down home rock n' roll released in years. Guess there really is some truth to the adage of old age and treachery beating out youth and skill after all.
(4 / 5)