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Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow . . . (Elektra)

Down's sophomore effort is a lot like its marijuana muse: smelly, carcinogenic, and addictive. High as a mountain and just as dense, II is a less accessible, more varied affair than the self-titled 1995 debut from this Cajun metal supergroup, which features members of Pantera, C.O.C., Crowbar, and Eyehategod. Murky Delta jams and instrumental reveries are interspersed with pillars of black groove that sound like Grand Funk Railroad rocking out at a church burning. Singer Phil Anselmo demonstrates his considerable range with a rueful wail that proves his heart bleeds just as much as his knuckles. Meanwhile, Pepper Keenan and Kirk Wirdstein add soot and swing to Sabbath's riff buffet.

It all culminates in dizzying aural grimaces ("The Man That Follows Hell"), baked bombast ("Lysergik Funeral Procession"), and foreboding acoustic incantations ("Landing on the Mountains of Meggido"), which make II a sprawling, dogged quest for the ultimate sensimilla experience. Perhaps the only thing missing is the number for Domino's.

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