Down River
Down River

I’ll forgive a lot for great music, including stage names like Sticky Krull and Lord Hobgoblin Hambone McPentatonic. Luckily for those guys this record from their band is loaded down with Sabbathy goodness.

When the huge opening riff of “Anti-Demon Multiplier” kicked in, I almost thought I had stumbled on a lost classic Sabbath track. Well, until Mr. McPentatonic’s vocals kicked in, but I’ll talk about that later. Down River treads the same sludgy, grungy Black Sabbath-worshipping waters as supergroup Down and latter-day Corrosion of Conformity. There’s a twist here, though, and you pick it up immediately on the second track “Better Days.” This is the Sabbath sound via Birmingham, Alabama, rather than Birmingham, England. The song title “Redneck Devil Rock” says it all.

Anybody that’s ever hauled ass down a backroad, windows down and beer in hand can’t help but appreciate the raw, raucous party rock of “Flowerchilddee.” It’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” meets “Children of the Grave,” and somehow it absolutely works. They also toy with the classic Danzig sound on the grooving “Hell and Back,” and there’s a really tasty blues feel in the opening of album closer “Lies,” which also features a nice little subtle tribute to the fast part of “Black Sabbath” in the interlude.

Guitarists Rosco Puchanello and McPentatonic graduated with honors from the Sabbath school of riffing. The record is loaded with huge Iommi-like riffs, like the irresistible opening of “Little Black Gremlins,” the galloping “Anti-Demon Multiplier,” the crushingly heavy “Infinite Oblivionic Madness” and the wild “Redneck Devil Rock.” McPentatonic’s vocals sound like a cross between Glenn Danzig and Fireball Ministry’s James Rota. In all honesty, sometimes they don’t quite work with the music, but usually they work. Being a self-produced record, it’s not surprising that the mix is a little muddy and muffled, but perhaps that’s how this kind of music was meant to be heard. It kind of lends to the atmosphere.

It shouldn’t be long before someone snaps these guys up. This is a huge, doomy, sludgy slab of southern-fried rock that’s every bit as good or better than anything in a similar style that I’ve heard come out of a label lately.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
May 26th, 2007

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