Even though Down draws its personnel from Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Eyehategod and Superjoint Ritual, the Louisiana-based quintet sidesteps the usual supergroup trappings. For starters, Down’s origins trace back to the childhood friendships of four of its five members, who (along with original bassist Todd Strange) all grew up in New Orleans. Down’s intentions may have appeared casual at first, but the group has grown into an enduring unit. For the most part, Down avoids sounding like a diluted mashup of its more extreme constituent parts by concentrating its intensity on a more bluesy brand of heavy rock, which truly hit home on the band’s latest album. Released in 2007, Over the Under remains a mature treatise on mortality that’s made especially compelling and authentic for its direct treatment of the Katrina disaster. Down has also become a vehicle for frontman Phil Anselmo in particular to shine, by showing the world once and for all that he can sing — and show genuine emotion — just as well as he screams.

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