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.
This is a very special album for me & is one of my personal favorite albums ever recorded. This was actually the first album that go me into heavy music when I first listened to it about 7 years ago. All the songs on NOLA are very impressive, and the CD has great variety. Most songs have a groovy, southern, grinding vibe, backed up with Phil's intense, introspective vocals. This album has a soul. There are some beautiful acoustic moments on the album, most notabley "Jail" which is quite possibly the most relaxing, tripped-out song of all time. Most of the album though is just filled with heavy, grinding, emotional songs with great lyrics. Down shines through most on songs like "Temptations's Wings" & "Eyes of the South" where they jam out for a bit, then break into a smooth, tripped out acoustic jam, then crank it up a notch & start jamming again. To me, this is the best record any of the members of DOWN have ever been apart of. It's just 5 friends, getting together a putting together some real, genuine heavy metal music. Very impressive. Here's how I rate the tracks: "Temptation's Wings" - 9/10 Great way to start the album. Displays many different styles. "Lifer" - 9/10 Outstanding stoner headbanger song. Great riffs. "Pillars of Eternity" - 8/10 Not as good as some of the other songs but still very impressive. "Rehab" - 9/10 Awesome song. Great lyrics/chorus. "Hail the Leaf" - 9/10 One of the heavier songs on the album. Awesome. Nice water-bong solo. "Underneath Everything" - 9/10 Awesome riffs. Rocks like hell. Very cool acoustic episode to close out a brutal song. "Eyes of the South" - 10/10 Very impressive. Incorporates all aspects of DOWN's sound. Nice build up, awesome jamming, greating singing, brief acoustic episode, finishes off with awesome jam session. "Jail" - 10/10 Beautful. Masterpiece. Songs like this set DOWN apart and truly make them a special band. "Losing All" - 8/10 Great song. Very cool. "Stone the Crow" - 10/10 Classic song. Great singing, very chilled out, great soul. "Pray for the Locust" - 8/10 Very beautiful acoustic piece. Could have been longer, more elaborate. "Swan Song" - 7/10 Only song that I wouldn't call outstanding. Pretty good song though. Has more of the roadhouse rock vibe that DOWN II has. "Bury Me In Smoke" - 10/10 Perfect way to close a perfect album. This song is so .... bad...! Heavy, slow, grinding, intense. Awesome. So in conclusion, this is one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. Altough I've branched out considerably in the different styles of music I listen to now, I always come back & listen to this album with admiration & respect because its simply that badass. If you're looking for heavy music with a heart & soul, then NOLA is definately the album to get. It's a classic in my book.
As good as you may *think* this is, if you haven't heard it yet, trust me - you're gonna get hurt. With a powerful, raw, ear-shattering mix, and a southern-fried demon sludge sound coming straight from the darkest, smelliest depths of some hellish swamp bog, _NOLA_ takes you in with its raw, head-pounding grooves from the moment the CD starts. Phil Anselmo turns in the most impassioned performance since _Vulgar Display Of Power_ - arguably of his career - but does so while stretching out his range impressively, turning some downright soulful performances on "Rehab" and "Eyes of the South". COC guitarist Pepper Keenan, wallowing luxiriously in stoned, Sabbath-like riffs and gorgeous harmonized leads, sounds something like Tony Iommi on a Molly Hatchet binge. In addition to Keenan's pounding riffage that forms the backbone of the record, he turns some eerie psychadelic work on the mostly instrumental "Jail" and "Pray For The Locust". Completing the quartet impressively are bassist Todd Strange from Crowbar and skin-pounder Jim Bower from Eyehategod, who provide an unbreakable rhythmic spine that would do Sabbath proud. This is such an utter explosion of creativity and brilliance its an exercise in futility to pick the best of the lot, but i'll pledge allegiance to Phil's vocal excoriation on "Lifer" and "Underneath Everything" along with the surprisingly melodic single "Stone The Crow".
I don't like to use hyperbole and gushing praise when I describe the bands I like. I want people to trust my opinion, and the opinions of fawning fanboys are some of the least trustworthy out there. All of that in mind, I fully stand by what I said in my review title. This album is truly legendary in the heavy music genre, and Philip Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Kirk Windstein, Todd Strange, and Jimmy Bower deserve every word of praise they've gotten for it. The guitar work is amazing-- one catchy but crushing riff after another, all the way through. You can almost laugh as you feel the brotherly jamming that must have gone on to create this stuff-- these guys play so well togetehr you can tell they've been friends for years. Jimmy Bower's drums aren't technically remarkable, but accompany the music perfectly. The bass keeps pace, which is fine, the guitars and drums deserve the limelight they have-- this record is about head-bobbing beats and great riffs. Lastly, Phil Anselmo's vocals are superb-- he sings where it's needed, screams or yells on key when it's demanded, and maintains his tradmark powerful presence without forcing a Pantera-style sound on the music. To top it all off, producer and longtime Crowbar member Matt Thomas keeps the sound raw and uncompromising without letting it get too ugly: a perfect job for this album. Perhaps the greatest thing about "Nola" is how the whole album bleeds with soul and feeling. It's serious without being melodramatic, fun without being careless, crushing without being overbearing-- everything clicks. A fan of heavy music would be very hard-put to find this record disappointing. Ten years after it was made, it still stands tall.