December 20, 2014
Gas Monkey Live!
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Brian Ullrich
Down Delivers A Solid Performance
The southern syrup runs deep in the veins of DOWN. Their blend of Black Sabbath's first 5 albums crawling through the Monroe swamps is like molasses pouring through your ear hole. It's addictive as axe handle riffs blend with quicksand rhythms all wound tightly around the voice of Metal, Philip Anselmo.
The sound at the newly erected Gas Monkey Live helps harness their Louisiana attack that was accentuated with enough lighting for the arena sheds. Covering all of the band's source material while focusing heavily on their self-titled masterwork, including "Hail the Leaf" and "Lifer," dedicated to Anselmo's muse Dimebag Darrell, the band was "all thrills, no frills". Yet for all the glory of those initial album tracks it was the last two EPs' material that landed on top of the audience's head and where guitarist Pepper Kennan shone brightest.
Keenan is just about the baddest cat in the musical land with big pile driving riffs and style galore. He rings the hell out of notes that others feel the need to overwork. He is delivery and sustain personified and the absolute glue that holds the whole shebang together. "Conjure" rekindled the sensation of opening up the gate-fold to Sabbath's Volume 4 album and being in awe of what lay before you. The southern blues cut cleanly on "We Knew Him Well" while "Witchtripper" came about as close as DOWN comes to primal punk rock. Thankfully there is enough thunder below the surface to hold the track bolted down amongst the franticness.
The overlooked DOWN II album was well showcased with the bludgeoning "Ghosts of the Mississippi" alongside "There's Something On My Side," complete with the heavy-laden rolling intro by drummer Jimmy Bower. These tracks exemplify that no one plays the doom stomp alligator blues like these seasoned vets. A new track was played last night but it was nigh impossible to make out what Phil was calling it. Regardless, it was a coffin-splitter piece of solid state metal blues.
Speaking of the character behind the mic, he's still as hospitable, off the cuff, and damned entertaining as always and his voice sounded pure titan. For a band that is rolling into the last two dates of a long tour and an even longer year, they were witch's-tits tight. DOWN will no doubt take a breather with Keenan reportedly going to work on some COC material and Anselmo and Bower both having projects galore to draw them in. However, their day job is secure and still is an impressive mammoth striding the Earth.
England's Orange Goblin is pure British metal to the hilt; Sabbath by way of Motörhead with a punter's attitude. Towering vocalist Ben Ward is Lemmy in a linebacker's build with a voice that is gravel running over nails. It's hoarse, massive and proper. Hitting all targets of their catalog, it was the set closers "Quincy The Pig Boy" and "Red Tide Rising" that rest assured preserves their status as one of the best metal outfits from across the pond.