For those not in the know The Midnight Ghost Train are a hard rocking trio consisting of Steve Moss on vocals and guitar, Brandon Burghart on drums and Mike Boyne on bass and Cold Was The Ground is their third album and their first release for Napalm Records.
The band take their name from a lyric in the Hank Williams song 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' and while the music is as far from country as you can get, lyrically they do seem to take a little inspiration from the Outlaw Country greats such as the much missed Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings with their tales of woe and standing up to those who look down on you.
For the most of this eleven track album they play at full tilt. Guitar, Bass and drums locked into one immense groove. The production is sparse and really suits the music, anything too polished would take away some of the grit from the songs. Musically the band have hints of Clutch to them at times and that can never be a bad thing.
The thing that sets The Midnight Ghost Train apart from their peers are the gruff bellowed vocals of Steve Moss. His vocals are quite abrasive compared to the music they play and may put some people off at first however stick with the album and they end up suiting the feel of the music.
As already touched upon this album has a powerful groove to it and you get the impression that the songs from this album will be fantastic in a live setting but while the music has a good time feel to it, the lyrics are dark and at times quite depressing. 'Arvonia' has Steve Moss bellowing "fetch me my 12 gauge, I'm a gonna shoot that man" followed up by the threat of "I ain't going to kill you, I'm just gonna make you pay".
'The Little Sparrow' is the standout track on the album. The vocals are spoken and quite poetic and the music in the background is sparse and haunting. Lyrics such as "how can music be so free and still take all that you have. I thought you were my saviour once but now I see you were my death" paint Steve Moss as a tortured soul, completely taken over by his music.
From start to finish 'Cold Was The Ground' is a fantastic album without a weak track on it. It is not the most immediate album out there and may require it to be listened to a number of times before you realise just how good an album it is. Fans of no frills southern style rock/metal should find a lot to enjoy and admire about this great wee album and if there is any justice in the world The Midnight Ghost Train should find themselves moving onto bigger and better things.
Review by Gavin O'Connor