This year marks the 25th anniversary of the debut album by New Orleans metal supergroup Down.

Chances are if you’re a casual rock music fan, you’ve probably never heard of Down. Unless you’re a true metal head you’ve probably never heard of Eyehategod. Probably never heard of Crowbar either. Maybe you’ve heard Corrosion of Conformity. What I can guarantee is that you have heard of Pantera.

Down is a supergroup of sorts, of musicians from New Orleans consisting of Phil Anselmo of Pantera on vocals, Kirk Winstein of Crowbar and Pepper Keenan from C.O.C. on guitar, and Jimmy Bower from Eyehategod on drums. The band formed in 1991 as just a side project for everyone to take a break from the road and chill while still making music. Get back to their roots of setting up, slamming some beers, smoking a little weed, and jam with buddies in a garage. Eventually they recorded their debut album, NOLA, in 1995. All members of the band are native to New Orleans except Pepper Keenan, but he’s basically a reborn Louisianan.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is this album I’ve never heard of important, and why should I care?” Well, let me tell you why. It’s one of, if not THE best metal album released in the ’90s. Think Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Black Sabbath. It is doom meets southern hospitality.

Often the group is overshadowed by Pantera, who Anselmo was the vocalist for from the late ’80s, until their breakup in the early 2000s. On display in this album is some of the heaviest, grooviest riffs written in heavy metal history. And while in the stranglehold of heroin addiction, Anselmo lays down his best vocals he has ever recorded. That includes any tracks he may have done in Pantera.

NOLA kicks off with “Temptation’s Wings,” and instantly proves that in order to be considered “heavy,” a band does not need to play a million miles a minute. The opening track lays down the ground work for the rest of the album with a riff that oozes groove and Anselmo’s high pitched screaming on full display — that thousands of other metal singers in years to come will try and emulate. And the guitar tone on the album is thick and dense. Both Pepper and Kirk feed off each other, one carrying the riff and the other soloing on top of it.

I don’t intend on giving a summary of every track. That’s monotonous and I’ll let you discover the album for yourself, but another notable track is “Stone The Crow.” It carries a solid lick that is reminiscent of Skynyrd and is smothered in a blues and southern rock vibe. If you’re going to Youtube any songs for a taste of Down, either that one or “Eyes of the South” will do.

Rumors are that Down is supposed to tour and perform the NOLA album in its entirety at some point this year with all the original members (plus Pat Bruders of both Crowbar and Eyehategod on bass). The only locked in date they have is in Denmark’s Copenhell Festival, which is set for June 17th-June 20th, but a full blown tour is in the works. Hell, I got my lip busted in a mosh pit when I went to see them perform with Weedeater and the Melvins (another band that proves you don’t need to be fast to be heavy). Security told me to leave the floor because I was bleeding everywhere. You can bet your ass I’m going to be there.

My friends and I like to play a little game when we’re sitting on the porch drinking. It’s called “the headbang challenge.” Rules are someone finds a song, and the first person to start nodding their head or tapping a foot or whatever loses. It’s a test to see how good a song really is. When you turn this album on, you will lose the headbang challenge within the first minute. I guarantee it.

Down

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Country music star Chris Stapleton has announced that his “All American Road Show” is hitting the road again this summer and fall for an extensive tour of the U.S. The tour kicks off in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 11th.

Stapleton is joined by an all-star cast of supporting acts for various tour dates including Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Dwight Yoakam, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, Margo Price, The Marcus King Band, Elle King, and Yola.

This is a must see tour of the summer with that many acts supporting and will sell out quick. Tickets go on sale to the public February 7th.

Tour Schedule with supporting artists:

March 11—Corpus Christi, TX—American Bank Center#

March 12—Austin, TX—Frank Erwin Center#

March 14—Arlington, TX—Globe Life Field*

March 20—Biloxi, MS—Mississippi Coast Coliseum+

March 21—Birmingham, AL—Legacy Arena at the BJCC+

April 22—Toledo, OH—Huntington Center+

April 23—Columbus, OH—Schottenstein Center+

April 25—Lexington, KY—A Concert for Kentucky – Kroger Field†

June 4—Albuquerque, NM—Isleta Amphitheater‡

June 5—Phoenix, AZ—Ak-Chin Pavilion‡

June 6—San Bernardino, CA—Glen Helen Amphitheater‡

June 11—Bakersfield, CA—Mechanics Bank Arena°

June 12—Sacramento, CA—Toyota Amphitheatre°

June 13—Mountain View, CA—Shoreline Amphitheatre°

June 18—Boise, ID—Ford Idaho Center Arena°

June 19—Portland, OR—Sunlight Supply Amphitheater°

June 20—George, WA—The Gorge Amphitheatre°

June 25—Salt Lake City, UT—USANA Amphitheatre§

June 26—Denver, CO—Pepsi Center§

June 30—Milwaukee, WI—Summerfest at American Family Insurance Amphitheater^

July 16—Estero, FL—Hertz Arena##

July 17—Orlando, FL—Amway Center##

July 18—Atlanta, GA—Truist Park**

July 23—Darien Center, NY—Darien Lake Amphitheater##

July 24—Syracuse, NY—St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview##

July 25—Holmdel, NJ—PNC Bank Arts Center##

July 30—Scranton, PA—The Pavilion at Montage Mountain++

July 31—Philadelphia, PA—BB&T Pavilion++

August 1—Mansfield, MA—Xfinity Center++

August 6—Cuyahoga Falls, OH—Blossom Music Center++

August 7—Charlotte, NC—PNC Music Pavilion++

August 8—Raleigh, NC—Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek++

August 12—Gilford, NH—Bank NH Pavilion††

August 13—Gilford, NH—Bank NH Pavilion††

August 20—Sioux Falls, SD—Denny Sanford PREMIER Center††

August 29—Chicago, IL—Wrigley Field‡‡

October 1—Knoxville, TN—Thompson-Boling Arena+

October 2—Nashville, TN—Bridgestone Arena+

October 8—State College, PA—Bryce Jordan Center+

October 9—Atlantic City, NJ—Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall+

October 10—New York, NY—Madison Square Garden+

October 15—Columbia, MO—Mizzou Arena+

October 16—Tulsa, OK—BOK Center+ (on-sale February 14)

October 17—Lincoln, NE—Pinnacle Bank Arena+ (on-sale February 14)

October 22—Lubbock, TX—United Supermarket Arena+

October 23—San Antonio, TX—AT&T Center+ (on-sale March 27)

 

“ALL-AMERICAN ROAD SHOW” SPECIAL GUESTS:

#Jamey Johnson and Yola

*Willie Nelson & Family, Jamey Johnson and Yola

+The Marcus King Band and Yola

†Willie Nelson & Family, Sheryl Crow and Yola

‡Dwight Yoakam and The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell

°Margo Price and The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell

  • Sheryl Crow and The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell

^Sheryl Crow

##Sheryl Crow and Kendell Marvel

**Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow and Kendell Marvel

++Elle King and Kendell Marvel

††Elle King and Nikki Lane

‡‡The Highwomen, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell

Chris Stapleton