16 Horsepower’s 1996 release, Sackcloth ‘n’ Ashes, was certainly an interesting listen.
The CD, comprised of thirteen songs, is a blend of folk, country, and goth. Not that they blend well. The band uses instruments such as the banjo, piano, guitar, accordion, fiddle, drums and mandolin.
The first song, “I Seen What I Saw,” gives the impression of being a regular country song. However, as soon as lead singer David Eugene Edwards opens his mouth, out tumbles tortured screaming and ranting as he harshly grates his vocal chords to burn our eardrums. The music and beat of the vocals are as discordant as water and vinegar.
At the time of this album’s release, Jean-Yves Tola and Keven Soll were also in this so-called Christian band. However, their current line-up includes Edwards, Tola, and Pascal Humbert.
I say “so-called Christian band” for a reason. Lead singer David Eugene Edwards told Intro magazine why he sings about God: “I see myself as a believer. And as a part of my faith I hope that other people believe too. Therefore I only narrate about what I believe in about my experiences in my life as a religious man.”
There are songs that mention God, Cain, sin and other things, but overall the CD seems to speak more of hellfire and damnation.
There is some kind of story being told in every song, although it is hard to discern what exactly the point is, because the stories are both random and choppy.
While the Biblical stories are nice, the ones about seduction and women are not; nor is Edwards’ use of the f-word in the songs “Red Neck Reel” and “Neck on the New Blade.”
In “Scrawled in Sap,” he constantly switches his aim from God to a woman he is apparently with: “I seen you walkin’ and your white hips sway / O girl I will have you more / To the moan in your voice / Not a charm do you lack …/ An I pray as I say this song in this way / That your eyes they would close / An your head begin to sway / An you’ll feel how he heals / With his blood on our skin / I am yours lady scrawled an thin.”
The song “Ruthie Lingle” has absolutely nothing to do with God and everything to do with being seduced.
Given the objectionable content in this release, I am not convinced that 16 Horsepower should be labeled a Christian band. In fact, I am not even entirely conviced of the members’ Christianity.
Overall, the music is just creepy. It leaves you with a very uncomfortable feeling. I was not left convicted, as Edwards hoped. Rather, I was left disgusted.
For more information about 16 Horsepower, check www.16horsepower.net.