"The first Down album, "NOLA", was more than just a side project, it was an experience. Phil Anselmo from Pantera, Pepper Keenan from C.O.C., Jimmy Bower from Eyehategod, and Kirk Windstein and Todd Strange from Crowbar united in 1995 for an album that was such a departure from their respective bands, but was loved by most, if not all, of their fans. "Lifer", "Underneath Everything", "Stone the Crow", "Eyes of the South", "Rehab", and "Temptation's Wings" remain personal favorites of mine, and after listening to this countless times for the past seven years, "NOLA" is one of the few albums that is truly timeless."
A jaw-dropping metal classic
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 07/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the opening wallop of "Temptations Wings" to the chugging riffs that close out "Bury Me In Smoke," "Nola" packs a power that equals any other metal album I've ever heard. The band doesn't guite go with the full-scale frontal assault that characterizes Pantera's work, instead opting for an album that is dark and brutal but more nuanced and abstract than one might expect from a Phil Anselmo-led band. This album would rate high in my book even if only for the music, thanks to the thick, heavy riffs, huge solos, and crunching rhythm section. The music on this album is not especially polished or complex, just driving and powerful. Despite the outstanding music, Phil Anselmo steals the show with what I consider to be his finest moment vocally. Singing, screaming, growling, whatever else you can think of is all here, and Phil does it better than anyone else. Every line is overflowing with emotion, and you don't need to know the lyrics to realize this fact. There is not a weak song on this album, or even a weak part of a song; this album is completely-filler free. All through it's a stirring, brooding masterpiece. If you're expecting Pantera Part 2 you may be disappointed at first, but if you want everything that makes Pantera great and more, "Nola" is the first place to look."
A Piece Of The South
Nicholas Alla Koholick | 05/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although my personal preference lies with Down II, NOLA(an acronymfor New Orleans, Louisiana) is still a force to be reckoned with. Members of Pantera, COC, Eyehategod, and Crowbar coming together to record a Southern-fried slab of 70's style heavy metal? Are you kidding? Gimme!NOLA has some clear differences from Down II. It's consistently heavier, Phil resorts to screaming his way through much of it, and there is less diversity between tracks. That being said, this manages to be one of the greatest metal albums ever. Every song has at least one classic or memorable riff within--the best tracks 4 or 5. Occasionally, an unorthodox instrument will show up: a water pipe on "Hail The Leaf," bongos in "Jail," plenty of cowbell, an acoustic guitar, etc."Temptation's Wings" gives the album a good head start, and is followed by "Lifer," which has a drop-dead gorgeous crunchy riff that shows up about two minutes into it. "Pillars of Eternity" has a pounding/tribal nature about it, and "Hail The Leaf" sets a dichotomy to it by being much slower and moodier. "Rehab" is my personal favorite song off the album due to its unbelievable melodies in guitar and vocals(he sings!). Excellent harmonization on Pepper's part as well. "Stone The Crow" was a minor radio hit back in 1995, and it's easy to see why with its beautiful bluesy guitar lead and melodic chorus. "Pray For The Locust" is a mystical acoustic ditty, and "Jail" is a spooky swampsong--all acoustic, very "Planet Caravan"-esque. Down would perfect this style of moody softer bit with their next record. "Swan Song" has a delicate main riff that kicks it off, and "Underneath Everything" shares a similar style of crunchy quasi-thrash riff with the closer, "Bury Me In Smoke." To summarize, Down crafted a fine album with NOLA. The album is a time capsule of sorts, because it captures the essence of the South in 1995. The artwork, the band members, the filler paper, the numerous references to a certain leafy substance/smoke/its effects, the CD with a bird's-eye-view of NOLA itself, the Superdome and all...it's the South incarnate. Fans and B.R.O.E.S. alike had seven years to digest the album until its radically developed followup came along the damp and dusty bayou path in 2002, so most listeners' favor falls with this release. In reality, it's a toss-up. Both albums are worth owning.Be a Lifer. Ride Temptation's Wings. Listen to Down."
Down right awesome
uplift | NORTH | 05/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some of the New Orleans based band members of Pantera, Crowbar, C.O.C and Eyehategod have blended to produce one of the most satisfying records ever. This album is incredible. They toned themselves down to a rock disc that has every song a favorite. Phil Anselmo sings with his incredible voice on this disc(screams to though which is good). They go from a banger like Temptations Wings to a slow great mood song like Jail. The best part of this record is the thought inspiring and personal lyrics actually sang amazingly well by the screaming metal vulgar king Anselmo. Like they have been saying there is a Southern sound in there thats hard to explain. A must have, unbelievable record, buy it. No way will you be dissapointed. Best part is there is a new one supossedly very soon. Classic disk."
A. Stutheit | Denver, CO USA | 04/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the mid 1990's, Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo was just starting to dabble in side projects. He started with Christ Inversion in 1994, and later continued on to Down and Superjoint Ritual (among other bands). Christ Inversion didn't last long, so no one really expected much from Phil's other projects. And surely no fan expected Down's 1995 debut to be so good. Down was clearly onto something with this album, and they didn't become so famous just because Anselmo fronted the group. "Nola" (which is an abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana) is about as good as or better than anything the band members had made before. Even though the members of Down came from Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Eyehategod, "Nola," sounds like a mix of Pantera and Black Sabbath, with Lynyrd Skynyrd's southern influence. This is a bludgeoning album which is overflowing with thick, hefty, doom-influenced riffs, solos, and crunching rhythms. Plus, Phil's wailing yells sound perfect against the dark, meaty sounding music, helping to give this album a "timeless" feel. Phil's vocal style is pretty much the same, here, as on any Pantera record, but it's an impressive performance nonetheless. His vocals couldn't be more full of emotion; he yells, growls, howls, yelps, bellows, and songs like "Rehab" show he can even sing/croon a little. Plus, I enjoy how Phil builds from a grunt to a scream on some tracks (like the very Sabbath-y door opener, "Temptation's Wings"). "Lifer," "Pillars of Eternity," and "Hail The Leaf," which are very catchy songs with churning guitars, the fiery riffs on "Losing All," the tortured, Crowbar-esque "Swan Song," and the punching, grinding album closer ("Bury Me In Smoke") are some of the standout tracks on here and good representations of the album as a whole. Even with mellower moments (like the acoustic "Pray For The Locust" and "Jail," which is very similar to Pantera's 1994 cover of "Planet Caravan"), there is hardly a weak moment on all of "Nola." Pantera fans should be cautious when checking into this album because it's typically quite slower and sludgier than anything Pantera put out. And, even though it could stand to have a few more fast songs, if you're looking for a very powerful, brooding, and satisfying metal album, put this near the top of your list."