Down - Nola review



Reviewer:
9.3

364 users:
8.63
Band: Down
Album: Nola
Release date: September 1995


01. Temptation's Wings
02. Lifer
03. Pillars Of Eternity
04. Rehab
05. Hail The Leaf
06. Underneath Everything
07. Eyes Of The South
08. Jail
09. Losing All
10. Stone The Crow
11. Pray For The Locust
12. Swan Song
13. Bury Me In Smoke


The late 80s and early 90s saw the founding and popularisation of a number of major Southern American metal bands, including the likes of Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Eyehategod. Members from each of these groups joined forces with Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo, and this unholy union was titled Down. Their debut, NOLA, dropped in 1995, offering one of the most outstanding demonstrations of Southern-style metal riffing ever put together in one package.

Whilst classed as sludge metal, the sound of this band is far less hardcore-based than what I've heard from Eyehategod, and is generally less abrasive than Crowbar. The sound is predominantly focused on mid-tempo, groovy, hooky riffs, with a clear Southern rock influence, and the sound can get quite doomy at times, especially on the extended outro track "Bury Me In Smoke". The production is also pleasantly clear, emphasizing the heavy punch of those powerful riffs but at the same time accentuating the lighter, cleaner aspects of the album's sound. It offers up a solid base for the band to shine on, and shine they do.

Throughout the album, the whole band is very much on song. In particular, whilst Phil Anselmo is clearly known mainly through Pantera and was a key part of their success, I would contend this is the finest I've heard him. Absolutely tearing it up with swagger and aggression on many tracks, he can offer up a smoother approach when necessary, or even a lonely, languished voice on the album's main experimental track, "Jail". However, the real strength of the album is the guitar work, and especially as a testament to the power of the riff. Whether it's the pummeling power of massive opener "Temptation's Wings", the slick groove of the (mostly) chilled, hazy "Rehab", which puts me in mind of cruising down a swampy river, or almost sinister nature of "Hail The Leaf", Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein consistently deliver. The best-known song from the album, "Stone The Crow", has a lighter sound and shows off the melodic capabilities of the band nicely, although I do find it gets slightly dull on repeat listens. Still it does work well as a nice intro to the band. Following that, however, the closing two tracks return to the massive sound of the rest of the album, delivering a strong conclusion. The band is also willing to mix it up a bit, whether the Anselmo-written, Keenan-played acoustic ditty "Pray For The Locust", or the very strange aforementioned "Jail", with echoed, despondent vocals and a simple, soft, repeating guitar line with added effects layered on top, offering a bizarre but welcome diversion from the core sound.

Since 1995, Down have delivered two more full-lengths and are currently in the midst of a multi-EP project. However, and I must admit I haven't heard Down II, I haven't come across anything by the band since NOLA that matches up to the consistent brilliance of this release. The songs are incredibly tight, focused and brimming with inspiration. NOLA truly stands as evidence of the huge talents of each musician involved in its making, and on the wonders that can, but so rarely do, come from "supergroup" collaborations.

Highlight tracks: "Temptation's Wings", "Rehab", "Swan Song"


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 9

Written by musclassia | 16.11.2014


 


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments

Comments: 5   Visited by: 62 users
16.11.2014 - 15:43
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
I am not a huge fan of this style of sludge. I need a more "post" edge to it. Have you tried Bask - American Hollow? Oh and nice review. Keep writing like this and you may get a call from the Metal Storm brass to be a contributor!
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rekt
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16.11.2014 - 18:22
Lit.
Account deleted
Nice to see a review for this classic album.

And post can stay out of my sludge, thank you very much. Why mess with perfection?
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16.11.2014 - 20:27
musclassia
Written by tea[m]ster on 16.11.2014 at 15:43

I am not a huge fan of this style of sludge. I need a more "post" edge to it. Have you tried Bask - American Hollow? Oh and nice review. Keep writing like this and you may get a call from the Metal Storm brass to be a contributor!


Thanks for the kind words man!
I generally prefer post to sludge, but that's usually because there's a large prominence of hardcore in sludge, and I'm generally not into hardcore or even punk in general, so those parts always put me off. But this is less hectic and more based around hooky riffs in a way that's much closer to more standard heavy/doom metal I find, which makes it a lot more digestible and a lot more fun. And the riffs are just consistently epic.
I have heard Bask actually yeah, from memory it was a pretty enjoyable album, although it didn't really make too much of a lasting impression, and I don't remember the vocals being that great. Still, a solid stoner album.
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21.11.2014 - 15:11
afu
I love this album. I think it's better than the Pantera albums and most of the COC albums that followed.

My favorites are Lifer, Eyes Of The South, and Bury Me In Smoke.
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16.10.2020 - 23:46
Timelord
Written by afu on 21.11.2014 at 15:11

I love this album. I think it's better than the Pantera albums and most of the COC albums that followed.

My favorites are Lifer, Eyes Of The South, and Bury Me In Smoke.


I couldn't agree more!!! I have never been a Pantera fan and only like COC's early stuff but this album gets a perfect 10 from me. I like every song from start to finish. To me NOLA is one of those lightning in a bottle records! None of their other releases comes close to NOLA!!
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