Roundtable Retro Review: N.O.L.A. by Down

95_nolaLabel: Electra Records

Release Date: Sept. 1995

Songs: 13

Genre: Sludge, Stoner, Doom, Southern Metal

Studio Albums: 3 studio albums, 2 E.P.s

Location: La., USA

Warprider- this is a band that I was initially turned off by. 17 years ago or so, there wasn’t any room in my heavy metal heart for stoner/sludge metal even if a band like Down had experienced pedigree. It was only in the last 6 years that I have grown a huge fondness for the genre. Hearing Nola for the first time in its entirely just for this retro review makes me wonder what rock I have been living under. Well, I guess it’s never really too late. I think Nola is an excellent album. To me, it is fresh and new and will surely find its way into heavy rotation in my music library for quite some time. I especially enjoy the track Eyes of the South.

Atleastimhousebroken- I still remember the day I bought this record.  A sticker on the front stated ‘Featuring members of Pantera, C.o.C, Crowbar, and Eyehategod’ and the reverse side had a picture of Jesus smoking a joint; damn straight I was walking home immediately with that CD.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t say it blew me right away on the first listen.  The groovy sludge riffs, the southern fried atmosphere, and the tight songwriting are so damn good that it pains me when I hear people talk of the best stoner/sludge albums of all time, NOLA is rarely brought up.  To this day it still sounds as fresh and original as it did nearly 20 years ago and no other band I’ve heard has yet to hit the heights that this record does as far as quality stoner/sludge goes (even Down themselves).  I also like how this supergroup feels organic and not forced as many supergroups do.  This lineup is pretty much nothing but the strength of its members at their highest and you can really hear that they enjoy playing together.  A must own for any stoner/sludge fan.  Favorite tracks: Rehab, Temptations Wings, Bury Me in Smoke, Eyes of the South

Irmelnis- The members of Down all come from other well-known metal acts and I happen to not like any of those bands. But ‘Nola’ isn’t bad. I’m digging the grungy, accessible rock sound, there is much of the typical “90’s bad ass rock” feeling over it, very straight forward with its own identity and full of soul. Phil provides some great singing with a gentle, murky tone in his voice; it’s very pleasant to listen to. The whole album feels relaxed, always catchy and only on rare occasions does it drag on a little too much. The highlights are the songs with the most variation, like “Stone The Crow”, “Eyes of The South” and “Bury Me In Smoke”. I’m glad I took the time to listen more carefully to this (soon to be) oldie.

Mammal- One look at the pedigrees of Down’s line-up is enough to tell you why they were touted as a supergroup. Moments after starting Nola you’ll hear how effectively they live up to that billing. An assembly of such stellar musicians should be contenders for a Best In Galaxy award for stoner bands. They come close to claiming that prize. If this album doesn’t blow the nostril hairs out of the nose of any stoner fan, not much else will. Every track is musical, catchy, creative and varied. All the performances are exceptionally good. I especially love the exchanges and harmonies from the two guitars. Frig, this music is nearly two decades old! It has aged a hell of a lot better than… actually, it hasn’t aged at all.

About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on May 8, 2014, in Roundtable Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great record and all of your reviews are summing up what I think about it. Favourite tracks: pretty much all of them. Also the first two that got me and still are favourites would be ‘Lifer’ and ‘Stone the crows’.

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