The Midnight Ghost Train – Cold Was the Ground (Napalm)

Thursday, 26th February 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

Combining elements of stoner rock, sludge metal, and southern tinged hooks and grooves, Kansas’ The Midnight Ghost Train aren’t your average act one would expect to integrate these genres in the middle of America. Starting as a tribute to vocalist/guitarist Steve Moss’ best friend John Goff in 2007 who died of a severe asthma attack, the band has gone through the usual lineup shuffles and growing pains on their own EP/album releases while slugging through the road warrior mentality necessary to build the TMGT brand. Currently a power trio rounded out by bassist Mike Boyne and drummer Brandon Burghart, this third album Cold Was the Ground should elevate their cult fan base even more thanks to a larger label push as this is addictive, bluesy, and stripped down rhythmically bouncy for the stoner/southern metal contingency.

Names like Kyuss, Clutch, and early to mid-1970’s Black Sabbath of course come to the forefront in terms of the bands low tuned, somewhat dirty, but semi-swinging jam elevated approach. Steve and Mike lock into this thick wall of sound dynamic that promotes copious amounts of head shaking, body flailing, and edge of your seat anticipation. Check out the massive sludge infested meets energetic groove combination for “Gladstone” or the almost punk meets doomy instrumental quick hitter “One Last Shelter”. Wah wah pedals, feedback, and gruff, tortured vocals spice up the template – but overall this is power trio metal where said musicians sink their mitts onto a riff or hook/tempo and ride it out in shorter 3-5 minute bursts.

Fringes of weirdness on the spoken word oriented “The Little Sparrow” plus the effects laden opener “Along the Chasm” give the main songs “Straight to the North” and the southern-fried stunner “Mantis” more girth. Add in the black and white stark cover (setting a scene for Justified through my lenses) as well as a sick, in your face production vibe with the bass and drum tones leveling your speakers and prepare for The Midnight Ghost Train to drive along the endless touring byways in the hopes of bringing their energetic stoner/sludge metal style to bigger audiences. 11 tracks that fly by in a tidy 39 minutes – Cold Was the Ground reaches beyond the retro/proto-metal tag.

The Midnight Ghost Train official website