Down, the New Orleans-based supergroup founded in 1991 by members of Pantera (Phil Anselmo), Corrosion of Conformity (Pepper Keenan) and Crowbar (Kirk Windstein) is one of the truly great heavy metal bands, and its 1995 album NOLA is, in my opinion, one of the five best metal albums of all time. The heaviness, the moodiness, the musicianship, everything about this album is almost 100% perfect. One of my favorite tracks on an album admittedly full of favorites is this one, “Stone the Crow.”
I discovered Down upon the release of NOLA, less than a month after I moved to New Orleans. NOLA is in fact an acronym meaning New Orleans Louisiana. In those days my best friend, Phil Vincent, used to judge the best metal albums of the year by how long the CDs remained in the 5-disc CD changer in his pickup truck. The NOLA disc went into his CD changer on September 19, 1995, the day the album was released. It was still in there when I left New Orleans three years later.
Despite the unvarnished triumph they scored with their first album in 1995, Down was never quite able to recapture the magic subsequently. As a supergroup its members all had primary bands to go back to, and many hiatuses later they finally returned with Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow. It was fine, but just didn’t have the same power as the first album. Phil Anselmo’s creative peak was arguably in the mid-1990s, and NOLA may have simply been the right album at the right time.
Shabbat Shalom and happy Friday!