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Railsplitter > 860 Some Odd Lbs. > Reviews
Railsplitter - 860 Some Odd Lbs.

Doing Eyehategod and Cavity proud! - 82%

MosquitoControl, November 30th, 2008

Railsplitter are many things, but they are not overly original, yet for once, that's not actually a bad thing, especially in the sometimes tedious subgenre of sludge metal. Since sludge is an easy style to do wrong and a difficult one to do right (look at all the sludge bands in history, and there aren't more than a handful or two that are decent or better), having the right influences and the right sound is important, even if it means not sounding, superficially at least, all that different than most other sludge bands. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

860 Some Odd Lbs is an album that is definitely the sum of its influences, and for the most part, Railsplitter picks the right bands to emulate. The riffs are pure Eyehategod, all Southern-swamp-groove, blues-based smokers; they are not intricate or complicated, but they have the same catchy simplicity that bands like AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynrd have trafficked in for years. Each riff is memorable, both heavy and propulsive at the same time, yet strangely hummable, and definitely headbanging-worthy; bands are not supposed to have this many good riffs in just six songs on one 25 minute album. Add to that a great guitar sound, thick, chunky, and filth-coated, like it's been dragged through bayou mud, and you have a beast of an album from a riffage perspective.

If the riffs are pure EHG worship, the tempos and structures are culled from a slightly different place, sounding much like Clutch in many places, displaying a hard rock sensibility usually lacking in such an extreme and unfriendly style of music. These songs never reach much more than a mid-paced chug, and some of them have pretty catchy, nearly sing-a-long worthy choruses (one listen to "Long Time Comin'" and you'll be singing the chorus in your head for days). But while 860 Some Odd Lbs has the same "bounciness" that makes Clutch the rare hard rock band that's acceptable among many metalheads, this is not hard rock; it still is much too heavy and has too much real sleaze and grit to qualify as pleasant listening. Railsplitter are more extreme than anything in Clutch's repetoire (and certainly do not have Clutch's sly sense of humor) and some of the slower grinding sections are as mean as anything to come out of anywhere in years.

The last influence, and possibly the most prevelant (whether intentional or not, who knows?), is late period Cavity, circa On the Lam. Many of these songs sound informed by just enough stoner rock to make them more interesting than your run-of-the-mill sludge metal that's content to ooze aimlessly; these songs push forward and sound truly urgent. The screaming is spot on Anthony Vialon (of Cavity fame), and although it lacks the vitriol of Micheal Williams (EHG), or the insanity of Kirk Fisher (Buzzov*en), it fits the music, being a bit more tuneful than the above-mentioned trio ever aspired to; but even during the occasional spoken word bits, the vocalist sounds angry as hell, something all good sludge needs. As much Cavity is heard on 860 Some Odd Lbs, this is heavier than anything Cavity has ever recorded; whether that's just in the excellent production is hard to tell. Both the drums and bass guitar are meaty and full, and there's not one second of let-up on the entire album; it's just drenched in omnipresent heaviness (there is no better word to describe the bulk of this album than "heavy").

So where does that leave us? An EHG-Cavity-Clutch stew? Pretty much. Not exceptionally original by any means; if you've been listening to sludge metal for the last ten years, you've heard more than one riff like these, and more than one catchy, but still heavy-as-a-trailer park full of ruined lives, chorus. But what you probably haven't heard though, is a six song album where every song is cut from the same whiskey-bent and hell-bound cloth and every one swings with the same heavy, bluesy crunch. This is pick-me-up music for the broken down, highly recommended for those who understand what sludge really is, and for those who worship at the altar of the riff.