Down II (A Bustle in Your Hedgerow)

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"I do one thing/I do it well," Philip Anselmo hoarsely screams to start the "Symptom of the Universe"-inspired "The Man That Follows Hell," but the fact is he's sorely mistaken on one count. The erstwhile Pantera prowler does a heck of a lot more than only one thing, as evidenced by his numerous side projects, of which Down is the most prominent. On the supergroup's second album, Down II, his pipes generally show the range that has allowed the New Orleans native to reach demigod status among metal aficionados, gutturally blasting out tortured-soul lyrics that all seem to address his state of mind and body (legend has it the disc was recorded in a rural Louisiana swamp under the influence of quite a few narcotics). Pepper Keenan's shtick is a holdover from the last couple of Corrosion of Conformity discs, and except for the fact that Anselmo is a much better singer than Keenan and the material is far darker than he usually takes his main project lyrically, much of Down II could have appeared on a new Corrosion of Conformity album and few would have blinked an eye. A few tracks stand out, like the almost psychedelic "Beautifully Depressed," which revels in its contradiction, and the closing "Landing on the Mountains of Meggido," a nearly eight-minute epic which is reminiscent Led Zeppelin if they were truly evil and didn't just play the part on TV.

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