Down – Live at Melkweg, Amsterdam, 2012
After returning from Poland the next gig on the list was Phil Anselmo and his Down brothers who came to Amsterdam to freak out like the madmen they are. And as Phil was listening to some twisted organ music in his dressing room, Bower confessed he had been hearing that same music for the past months and it was slowly driving him insane. Since the guys from Down started their world wide In The Year Of XII tour back on September 18th. This to celebrate their new Down IV – Part I – The Purple EP and announce the upcoming three other ones. But also to let the fans enjoy all those freakishly loud tracks from their past like the opener of that night Eyes Of The South of their 1995 debut album NOLA…
After the demise of the legendary metal formation Pantera and the violent death of guitarist Dimebag Darryl in 2004 the only way to immerse ourselves in concrete hard groove metal is via the former side project Down of singer Phil Anselmo. Anselmo started the band back in 1991 with guitarplayer Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity), guitarist Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), bassplayer Todd Strange (Crowbar) and drummer Jimmy Bower (EyeHateGod). Strange quickly gave up his place to Pantera bassist Rex Brown who gave up his seat in 2011 to the new Crowbar-bassist Pat Bruders. Inbreeding has its merits!
Even before the sounds of Harry Nilsson’s intro song Down have died away it becomes obvious that the guys are psyched. Animated and with a bottle of beer in his hand Anselmo entertains the crowd after which the first notes hit like an atom bomb. That this night promises to become one full speed fast ride without pulling back on the gas, damn the consequences, is apparent after the first song. Anselmo’s head is already sporting some blood. The crowd is awake and prepares for a boorish heavy night. Crowdsurfers fly across the pit and everywhere the sweet smoke of weed circles and spirals towards the ceiling. Tonight there is no control possible!
The masses in front dance and sweat while Witchtripper and Open Coffins of the new record buzz around the eardrums. With grim expressions and his typical voice Anselmo rips though the songs. Of the old flaw that the guys take themselves a little too serious from time to time is no trace whatsoever. Jokes and quips, mostly at the expense of Windstein, keep getting more and more as the night continues on as do the multiple thank you's towards the crowd. Lysergik Funeral Procession is next and Bower seems to pulverize his drums while the guitars scream and roar. Every next brutal riff seems even more tighter and heavier than the one before. And as Temptation’s Wings continues Keenan and Windstein seem to masterly and neatly move their strings to produce that heaviness. Newcomer Bruders makes the dark undertones come alive together with the drummer and make it their very own dance macabre. Together the four musicians form the perfect support for Phil ‘phenomenon’ Anselmo who does not tolerate resistance and commands complete attention.
Highlights are without a doubt New Orleans Is A Dying Whore, Stone The Crow and closing tune Bury Me In Smoke at which point the smoke machines of the venue are tested to its limits and the guys from opening act Warbeast take over the instruments. And after the last guitar dies down the guys walk off stage; but not before Anselmo grabs the mic one last time and has the audience sing along: ‘And she’s buying a stairway to heaven…’ An intense brutal night but it was indeed heavenly…