on 31 August 2006
Where Southern metal is concerned, Down are THE supergroup that probably couldn't get any superer. They consist of (I'm going off their current line up here, not this album, Todd Strange, left..); Infamous Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo, Corrosion Of Conformity guitarist/frontmman Pepper Keenan, Crowbar guitarist/frontman Kirk Windstein, Pantera bassist Rex Brown and Eyehategod riffmaster Jimmy Bower on drums. Quite the line-up! It's a who's who of Southern metal genius, maybe if it was a perfect world Dimebag would be in there too (R.I.P.). Usually with the prospect of a supergroup, the product is far lesser than the sum of it's parts. Whereas with Down, you'd have a hard time finding an album that matches it in any of the aformentioned bands catalogues.
This album is what Southern American metal IS. It's soulful, it's bluesy, its heavy, it's grimy, it just kills. Anselmo's performance is one of his best and Keenan and Windstein crack out some amazing riffs; check out Lifer, Stone The Crows, Bury Me In Smoke and Temptation's Wings for proof. In fact, you'd have a strong argument of the inclusion of NOLA in the top 5 of THE essential metal albums of the 1990's it's that good.
Yes siree, living proof that the word `supergroup' isn't necessarily something to recoil from. Unfortuantely Audioslave aren't quite up there.......
I think the reason for so many people warming to this album, apart from the songs of course, is the lack of the hardman metal cliche Anlselmo usually carries around with him. This album isn't about that; it's very blues influenced, it's pretty soulful at times, especially in the trippy acoustic, Jail. There's a lot of stoner rock in here too, the riffs are swinging and grooving rather than grinding metal riffs.
If you're into any of the aforementioned bands, bar Audioslave, NOLA is a record you'll come back to again and again. Even if you forget it for a while, you'll come back to it and wonder why you had forgotten in the first place.
on 24 September 2002
Never has the term "supergroup" been so fitting. Featuring Philip Anselmo (Pantera)-Vocals, Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity)-Guitar, Kirk Windstein (Crowbar)-Guitar, Todd Strange (Crowbar)-Bass and Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod)-Drums, Nola is an uncompromising straight-up classic. Opener "Temptation's Wings" instantly highlights the band's collision of southern grit and inch-perfect clashing of Keenan's superb lead riffage and Windstein's grinding bends and low rhythm. Anselmo is, unsurprisingly superb, mixing occasional Pantera-esque aggression with southern melody and incredible vibratos. Each track only continues to portray how truly amazing this record is. Even by the paced-out storming end of "Lifer" you'll realize that what Down have collectively created is truly monumental. Tracks such as "Rehab" and "Losing All" are dominated by Anselmo's vocals, whereas mellow "Jail" is all effects, "Stone The Crow" is run by Windstein and Keenan's duelling, and "Pillars Of Eternity" is Jimmy Bower's territory; a tribal opening culminating in a mammoth, cymbal-heavy outro.
Down are a collective, and at not one point do they seem as otherwise, the fact that Anselmo, Keenan and Winstein are the frontmen for other, more succesful bands does nothing to extinguish their musical desire. The five musicians compliment eachother as brilliantly as could be hoped for. Final track "Bury Me In Smoke" is the perfect finale to the perfect album; a sliding opening riff brought to life by Bower's pounding drums, split apart by Anselmo's phenomenal vocals, and brough to an epic end not least by Strange's epic swinging bass.
The band's view? "Nola? That was just a record to see if the tape-trading underground still existed".
In short? No, short wouldn't do this album justice. An epic from start to finish, replayable endlessly, pure southern metal perfection never seen before nor since.
on 25 March 2008
After years of skirting around various aspects of the metal scene, despite a youth spent almost exclusively listening to Anthrax and Iron Maiden, it took this record to open that particular world back up. And despite a year or so exploring aspects of metal from the 70's to the 90's and beyond it's always this album i return to. It is an unquestionable joy, a record that puts a smile on my face every time i put it on, which is often. It has a very loose feel, the sound of a band with undoubted talent, not trying to amaze the listening with skills (which are there in abundance), but just creating the ultimate groove, with the right balance of aggression, songcraft and well, rock n roll!!. It may be a supergroup, but it more than equals the sum of it's parts and i love Phil's vocals on this record. Highlights for me are "Temptations Wings" "Lifer" and "Stone the Crow" (the best track Pearl Jam never made). I know there are some who feel this is under produced, but the style of production, or lack of it, only enhances the record, played loud in a car it sounds like the band are performing on the back seat and i love that. Since hearing this i've gone on a journey through Pantera's, COC's, Crowbar's and EyeHateGod's back catalogues and any number of other "StonerSludgeDoom" bands, but this is always my reference point. Thank You and Get Down.
on 10 February 2000
this is the amazing side project by members of pantera, corrosion of confority and crowbar. a mix of strong stoner style grooves and traditional rocking riffs with a seventies vibe. A great album which is a must for all rock fans , especially fans of c.o.c. check out the songs "stone the crow" and "lifer".
The New Orleans based band Down released their debut album NOLA all the way back in 1995 and over the years it has moved from a sort of cult classic to one of the essential heavy metal albums of our time.
Down brought together Phil Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Kirk Windstein and surprisingly Jimmy Bower on drums to play a sort of sludge and southern rock influenced stoner rock style.
NOLA, named after the band's New Orleans Louisiana roots, contains many of the band's most loved songs, from the likes of big rocking songs such as `Lifer,' `Bury Me In Smoke,' and `Hail To The Leaf,' to softer more contemplative moments like `Jail,' and `Pray For The Locust.'
The album has no weak links, basically every track is a classic and the majority of the album is played live to this day which should speak volumes of about its quality.
As well as inspired songwriting, and great performances, the album has an exceptional production job, almost years ahead of its time. The album sounds big and meaty, with an immense drum sound yet at the same time sounds like an old undiscovered vinyl gem from back in the 70s.
NOLA may come from a pretty esteemed pedigree, but at the same time actual manages to still be greater than the sum of its parts. If you have the slightest interest in Down or even just in the genre, you really need to check this album out.
on 18 August 2002
Before I bought this album I only knew that Down was a sort of supergroup with Phil Anselmo on vocals and others from COC and crowbar. I didn't know quite what to expect either. Now I can say that they are quite simply exceptional in everything they do. Superbly crafted tunes of such extreme quality that i can't believe that they aren't more famous. If you've got Pantera albums then you'll love this. Its far far more melodic and accessible but still heavy as f**k. They can also do mellow laid back southern style tracks aswell, so if you like a bit of blues then you'll love these little tracks. Basically get it, and if you regret it then i'm sure your mates will gladly buy it off you.
on 11 January 2005
This is heavy stuff. Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Southern influences on top of some Doom... Stoner... Thrash. The solo's on this album are amazing. I love all this. Theres not a bad song on here. This is how all heavy music should be.
on 1 April 2003
The supergroup has always seemed something to be cautious of. When a group of musicians from a group of leading bands comes together, you're always going to expect something a little special, and they're often seen as not living up to expectations. Up until I heard Down, I have heard 2 supergroups. One was magnificent, the other not so. Mad Season, made of Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), and an unknown John Baker-Saunders, did not disappoint in the least with 'Above'. The now infamous, Audioslave were unfortunatly predictable with Rage Against The Machine musical qualities, and Cornell's soaring voice, and was incredibly disappointing.So with mixed emotions I enter the heavy, heavy world of Down...and the initial signs are very good. The rollicking, ear shattering, 'Temptation's Wings' is an essential selection for anyone who likes anything vaguely Pantera or Corrosion Of Conformity, or anyone who just likes heavy metal. And as it turns out so does the majority of the album. It's difficult to resist an album that has Phil Anselmo's soaring voice, and Corrosion's Pepper on guitar. It is indeed a lethal combination. 'Lifer', 'Pillars Of Eternity', 'Rehab', 'Hail The Leaf' (which features vocal effects that don't overpower the actual song itself) and 'Underneath Everything', all keep up the charging, superb heavy rock formulawithout slipping once, and sound consistently great throughout these tracks. At this point, you're realising that this is the album 'The Great Southern Trendkill' should have been. Then almost unexpectedly, it goes melodic and slows down for a while, with the gorgeous 'Jail', 'Stone The Crow' and the minute long 'Pray For The Locust', and for music like this the word gorgeous is not often heard, but it's meant in nothing but a good way. You can tell just by listening to these songs that this is a band, who are willing to slow down rather than pace you through an album and say goodnight...you also hear a band clearly enjoying themselves and making some of the best music of their illustrious careers. The pure rocker in between those three slower classics, 'Losing All', is also one of the best tracks on this album. And the last remaining track is yet more gloriful hard rock with superb riffs and solos and screaming vocals, 'Swan Song' and 'Bury Me In Smoke'. Overall, this is a rare album that is so consistently good that it shouldn't exist, by rights. Not only is this a superb rock album for fans of Pantera, COC, and the other bands of their caliber, it's also a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into music like this. And there isn't a track that had me reaching for the next track button. This is an essential part for any heavy metal collection. It's as important as Pantera's ''Vulgar Display Of Power'', or ''Cowboys From Hell'', as important as ''Dirt'' by Alice In Chains, and as important as just about any Metallica album.The word underrated springs to mind. One of the most unheard supergroups around, also happens to be one of the best. That fact is just as ironic, as the fact that this album is also like the band itself, astounding.5 stars.
on 17 November 2000
Heavy and mellow, intense and chilled out with a good quota of indecipherable lyrics. "Stone the Crow", "Eyes of the south" and "losing All" are the highlights of an all round superb recording
on 18 February 2009
As other reviews make clear, Down are a super group to be reckoned with. Recently reformed following the demise of Pantera and Corrosion of Conformity, they have produced two more great albums, but nothing that touches the perfection embodied here. There are other contenders for the title of Greatest Heavy Album Of All Time (namely, Soundgarden's 'Badmotorfinger', Metallica's 'Master Of Puppets' and Pantera's 'Great Southern Trendkill') and some other albums with superlative heavy moments (the last three Faith No More albums, for example) but this is an incredibly strong contender.
In many ways a tribute to the early masters (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Lynryd Skynyrd) this updates them with the aggression and rhythmic sensibilities you would expect from Phil Anselmo and Pepper Keenan and a distinctive southern swagger (NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana). Lyrically, there is an emphasis on loss, remorse, death, imprisonment, rehab and the consolations of marijuana. But none of this is maudlin or self-indulgent or introverted. Instead, this is full of energy and is even life-affirming, in its own existential way.
There is plenty of variation in pace and vocal registers, whether in the melodic 'Stone The Crow', the bone-crunching 'Underneath Everything' or the punk intensity of 'Losing All'. If you like heavy things, there will be at least something here that gives you immense pleasure, no matter how narrow your tastes. For anyone interested in heavy music, this album is an absolute must. Not just highly recommended. A modern classic.
Essential cuts: 'Temptation's Wings', 'Lifer', 'Hail The Leaf', 'Underneath Everything', 'Eyes Of The South', 'Losing All', 'Stone The Crow' and 'Swan Song'.