THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN
Cypress Ave. – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD
Napalm Records – released July 28, 2017
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
Formed – August 1, 2007
Location – Topeka, KS USA
Steve Moss – Guitar / Vocals
Brandon Burghart – Drums
Mike Boyne – Bass
“The Johnny Boy” EP (2008)
“Live At Roadburn” (2013)
“Cold Was The Ground” (2015)
Almost ten years in the making. Steve enters the arena with long-time friend and drummer (and one time bass player of TMGT) Brandon alongside and featuring a solidified line-up, now anchored by Mike who now shows a tenure of over 4 years on bass (not an easy feat for this band). Some of the BEST yet from this powerhouse three piece is what this record, the fourth full-length release from The Midnight Ghost Train, represents. 10 songs that clock in at just under 45 mins and this time out, The Midnight Ghost Train has decided to run the complete gamut of musical styles, not limiting themselves to anything in particular. Usually thought of for their blues-heavy/stoner/doom groove they established more and more with each previous release, with this album we have it all and then some as you may not have expected.
Opener and lead-off single ‘Tonight’ is a great example of the focus being used with it’s soft guitar opening before the power chords hit you right at 30 seconds and we hear Steve’s voice with “I got some time to kill, and you’ve got someone to bring my head down, ’cause I’ve been spinnin’ round'” and we’re off on what could very well be the most cohesive and coherent offering to come from this unit. The frenetic bass line that starts off “Red-Eyed Junkie Queen” belies the pace that this tale sets off on and the staccato bends are the perfect backdrop for this romp-fest of hammering drums, pummeling bass and enough distortion to scrap your knuckle son as this tale of rolls on, where ‘Glenn’s Promise’ hits with a muted tempo that lures you in with equally muted chords until at 26 seconds in, the fullness returns, thick enough to knock you down as Steve’s gruff vocals tell of ‘Promises, promises, you’re taking….” and the galloping drumline grabs you by the arm and guides you along the way and the fury keeps building with the pace and by the time the solo section hits, you are already in full-force headbanging mode and there is no escape wanted. The sheer structure of on the foundation TMGT has built with their previous outings is solidified and as each brick is placed with each note, the resulting structure is stronger than before.
‘Bury Me Deep’, opening with a lone guitar progression, further exemplifies that these songs seem more rooted in a depth that while not missing before, has now been brought to the forefront to let us see that these three are beyond ready to take their place in the lexicon of pure ROCK-N-ROLL bands that refuse to be pigeon-holed into any one genre, preferring to show their muscle tackling many song-styles with the strongest songwriting to come from this camp yet. ‘The Watcher’s Nest’ has one of the softest, almost soothing intro’s and the tempo is awash with ride cymbals before we get told that ‘We’re going down, down into the light’ and you are moving again and then another quick pause… and back to the slow even shuffle before another blast of the chorus that lead to an astral wah’d solo burst that adds even more to what is already so manner layers of flavors that each permeate through yet meld together in the most cohesive amalgam possible.
The next thing you know, it is a complete 180 to what is almost a LEON REDBONE meets TOM WAITS salute with a love song that is pure TMGT is essence and delivery and you can’t help but smile as this tale of passion unfolds. ‘Lemon Trees’ is a more familiar flow with a seemingly softer jangly approach that is equal parts hart and soul that moves you through, following this tale of pressure that holds attention tight, following each word to get the whole picture.
The final four tracks each lend themselves to show even more virtuosity and flexibility in flavors they can pull off seamlessly at whim. ‘The Boogie Down (featuring Sonny)’ is almost CAKE meets The BOSSTONES and the result is upbeat, where ‘Black Wave’ opens in pure spaced-out stoner bliss complete with a bass line that is soft as a feather pillow and massive in presence at the same time with this introspective analysis that is as enveloping as any other track on here. ‘The Echo’ is almost a cowboy-western song with the galloping pace of the drumline, the perfect progression that make up the body in a KARMA TO BURN structure that punches hard to the chest before the pace shifts back in a hypnotic use of sustain and lingering chords that wrap all the way around your brain stem and no restraint given.
As the fuzzed out bass fades, it is perfection indeed before we hear what can only be an almost ED GEIN voicing in this dark closer that stands out for ME as pure brilliance. It showcases just how maniacal in tone and darkness of delivery as you can almost see his smile asking these sardonic questions pushing you to the edge of your seat, waiting for the next as this collection of three spirits shows that they have reached a new depth in composition and arrangement. They are tighter than ever before and with the newest production values that have been used in abundance, it is clear that the rest of the world needs to catch up and jump onboard with the pinnacle to this point that these guys show they are at.
Buy it YESTERDAY, play it for every pair of ears you encounter, support them LIVE if they come anywhere close and keep it LOUD!!