16 Horsepower

Hoarse

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Recorded in the band's hometown of Denver during 1998's Low Estate tour but not released until 2001, this live document of predominantly a single show is an accurate no-frills portrait of 16 Horsepower's tough goth rock attack. Mixing songs from all three of the albums they had released at the time, with rare covers from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joy Division, and the Gun Club, lead singer/songwriter David Eugene Edwards is in fine form -- howling, moaning, and battling his demons with an almost hypnotic intensity. Even more raw and incisive than on its studio releases, the band tears into these songs with manic precision and rugged ferocity. Obviously recorded without overdubs or studio tinkering, the 50-minute show is short by today's standards. But the primal power and gut-wrenching emotion exuded on every track are not something that can be sustained over the long haul. They're not joking when they title one of their songs "Brimstone Rock"; the dark religious imagery meshes with standup bass, drums, and two guitars (with Edwards' occasional banjo and bandoneon) to create a torrent of sound. Similar to gospel, 16 Horsepower is unsettling live, where their drama and tension run thick, heavy, and uncut. The album skimps on liner notes, inexcusably omitting even the names of the band members from the package, and doesn't include a book or pamphlet. But the passionate music speaks for itself, and this is the disc you'll want after seeing 16 Horsepower tear up a stage in your town.

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