Down – II: Bustle In Your Hedgerow – Review


II: Bustle In Your Hedgerow (Elektra)
by Brian Varney

If you pay attention at all, I’m sure you’ve heard the story behind this by now. I’ve already heard it about a dozen times, but just in case you’ve got better things to do than check the Internet for band news, here ’tis: These five, no doubt tired of being asked “So when is Down gonna do another album?” got together, rented a barn in the middle of a South Louisiana swamp, and wrote and recorded the whole album in 28 days.

Dunno about you, but this sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I ain’t in a band so I don’t really know what it’s like, but having to come up with an entire album from scratch and then record it in under a month sounds like an awful lot of pressure.

But this ain’t the case with the boys in Down ’cause this thing tears a whole lotta ass. The Southern-Sab-metal-dragass of NOLA is all over tracks like “New Orleans is a Dying Whore” and “The Man That Follows Hell,” but the pallet has been expanded to include some unusual surprises, like the ragged acoustic beauty of “Where I’m Going,” which sounds like it was recorded in front of a campfire. And the pressure doesn’t seem to’ve gotten to them too badly, considering how damn long this is. Still, with this much meat and so little fat, who’s complaining?

My initial reaction to this (and to NOLA as well) is “Why don’t these guys quit those other jack-off bands and concentrate full-time on Down?” Not that I don’t like Pantera, COC, and Crowbar, but none of it measures up to Down at its best. Writing and playing with Down just seems to bring out the best in these guys, especially Anselmo, who provides the most pleasant surprises on II. In addition to his trademark half-growled/half-sung vocals (which fit this stuff like tight jeans fit sixteen year-old ass), he does some actual singing here. The aforementioned “Where I’m Going” actually made me check the credits ’cause the singing’s so nice. Here’s hoping the next one doesn’t take another seven years.