Just a couple years ago, new Tooth & Nail outing Neon Horse made their debut with the label, in all their anonymity. Though the exact line-up (or any of the line-up) of the band has not been revealed to the public (their bio page just says "Neon Horse" under the line-up), there have been speculations going around the internet as to at least a couple of the band members' identities. Rumors have circulated that Mark Salomon (Stavesacre) provides the vocals and music extraordinaire Jason Martin (Starflyer 59, Bon Voyage and more) contributes the music to 2009's Haunted Horse: Songs of Love, Defiance and Delusion. But is there any truth in that?
Starting with "When Daddy Gets Home," the Jason Martin side of things is definitely apparent, continuing into "Strange Town," where it's even more obvious. And it's in "Strange Town" where one can begin to recognize the almost Ozzy Osbourne-ish vocals of Salomon. His aren't the only vocals, as there is another singer (with a much weirder voice, might I add) who throws in his vocals here and there (sometimes even for a whole song or two). But it seems as if Salomon provides the main vocals for the group. However, all you Stavesacre fans may not want to jump into Haunted Horse quite so quickly. Even though you can often tell that it's Salomon, he doesn't sing the same way he does with Stavesacre. With Neon Horse, his voice sounds a little darker, and even creepier. I won't say it's unbearable, because it's not. But it's a enough of a change for him.
I mentioned how it's apparent that Jason Martin provides the music, and if you've listened to much Starflyer 59 (particularly Dial M or possibly the lone project from another group of his called The Brothers Martin) you would probably agree. There are some songs that, with different vocals, could maybe pass as Dial M b-sides. It's not hard to point out music that Martin composes, but still, he does a very good job with creativity, instrumentation and production. He may be one of the most underrated artists in Christian music, as he is constantly putting out new music, but it's never less than top quality. It's very impressive, and his work on Haunted Horse is no exception - although it's quite strange to hear the weird, creepy vocals mixed in with the music. On the other hand, it's a nice mixture on tracks like "Follow The Man" and "Strange Town" (with the latter possibly being the album's highlight).
Altogether, Haunted Horse: Songs of Love, Defiance and Delusion is a bizarre mix. Between the music and the vocals, it's really the music that shines more. Like I said, it's well-composed and produced, making it the main reason you may want to buy the album, if you even do. The vocals may - well, more like "definitely will" - make this a hard album for some to listen to, if not an impossible one. Even some Stavesacre fans may find themselves disliking it. But then again, if you like some experiments with your music, this could be your cup of tea. But all in all, not a bad second album, and an album that most likely will help them avoid that dreaded sophomore slump curse.- Review date: 7/23/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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