Down is a New Orleans-based heavy metal supergroup formed in 1992. Featuring a who's who of heavy metal musicians from the city, with members of Corrosion Of Conformity (Pepper Keenan, guitars), Crowbar (Kirk Windstein, guitars, and Todd Strange, bass), Eyehategod (Jimmy Bower, drums), and Pantera (Phil Anselmo, vocals, a NOLA native although Pantera is Texas-based) originally, the group were long time friends from the city's metal scene that formed a jam project that began shopping demos to fans at concerts (members of the band themselves, without telling people they were in the band), they would get signed and release their first album NOLA in 1995.
The album was met with great critical success and decent commercial success (having the frontman of one of the biggest heavy metal bands at the time didn't hurt for word of mouth), as the band's NOLA influences fused with southern hard rock and traditional metal like Black Sabbath created a sound that was lauded. The group did a short 13-date tour before going back to their normal bands.
The band would remain on hiatus for seven years due to scheduling conflicts, but would reunite (with Rex Brown from Pantera now on bass) and record their long-awaited follow up, Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow in 2002, recorded in one month while the group lived in seclusion in a barn owned by Phil, living off of "ramen, alcohol and drugs." While many critics thought it was a disappointing follow up, many fans cite this as their favorite album of Down.
They would continue to get back together every chance they got, releasing a third album in 2006, a live album in 2008, and currently releasing a fourth album via a trilogy of EP's. Rex and Kirk would also leave and be replaced, and the band now seems more of a "real" band and less a side project.
The bands love of classic metal like Sabbath is ever present, as well as a very southern and NOLA groove to their sound. Their erratic recording and touring schedule has probably hurt them from reaching true mainstream success, but they have an extremely loyal cult following. The track On March The Saints from their third album is used at New Orleans Saints games.
Current Line Up
- Phil Anselmo: Vocals
- Pepper Keenan: Guitars
- Jimmy Bower: Drums
- Pat Bruders: Bass
- Bobby Landgraf: Guitars
- Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow
- Down III: Over The Under
- Down IV: Part I
- Down IV: Part II
- Diary of a Mad Band
Down provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: And addicts. Most members of the band past and present. Phil's battle with opiates addiction is well known, Rex was essentially fired from the band due to health problems from drinking and he wouldn't quit, and Kirk's recent sobriety probably played a part in him leaving the group to stay away from temptation.
- Badass Beard: Anyone in the band at any given time, but special mention to Kirk's epic mountain man beard.
- Bottle Episode: The recording of II. The band purposely cut themselves off from The Outside World, secluding themselves in "Nosferatu's Lair" (A refurbished barn owned by Phil) with nothing but a producer, engineer, instruments, and supplies (which included copious amounts booze and various drugs) for a month to avoid outside distractions and concentrate on making music.
- Grief Song: Several, but I Mourn stands out.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually 7 or 8.
- Putting the Band Back Together: Due to their other "main" bands, they have to do this every four, five or more years. They seem to be striving to be more of a regular unit now.
- Shout-Out: To their influences in two of their album titles. Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow is a line taken straight out of Stairway to Heaven and Diary of a Mad Band is a play on an Ozzy Osbourne album title.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: NOLA has a few: "Jail" is an eerie, psychedelic ballad featuring Phil Anselmo on mandolin. "Pray For The Locust" is a short acoustic instrumental with keyboards. And finally, "Stone The Crow", their only radio hit, has a heavy chorus, but calmer, southern rock/blues rock-style verses.
- The Stoner: The band is a vocal proponent of pot, with a lot of merchandise for the band featuring the substance (famously, artwork from the first album of Jesus smoking a doobie as above) and a lot of songs about it, including Hail the Leaf and Bury Me In Smoke. "Hail The Leaf" even features what the liner notes refer to as a "water pipe solo" (actually, a short instrumental breakdown where the sound of someone smoking a bong can be heard in the background)
- Word Salad Title: Many of their songs. What exactly is a Lysergic Funeral Procession?