Tuesday 1 August 2017

RIFF REWIND (01/08/2012): The Midnight Ghost Train - "Buffalo"

On August 1st, 2007, John Goff was pronounced dead. He died in his home in Abilene, Kansas from a severe asthma attack. This was the influential event that caused his best friend Steve Moss to start The Midnight Ghost Train as a eulogy to John. “John’s memory and life had to be remembered in some way.” Moss then moved back to Buffalo, New York planning to form a band and start touring. This was the idea and drive that fueled The Midnight Ghost Train.

As soon as Moss arrived in Buffalo, he began to recruit members for the band. The original lineup consisted of Steve on vocals and guitar, and friends Keith Harry-Carrey on bass, and Jake Levin on drums.

Their first EP, The Johnny Boy EP, was recorded in early 2008. It experimented with various genres, ranging from heavy rock to acoustic and psychedelic songs. Once the record was finished, Moss booked their first DIY U.S. tour. Before the tour started Keith was replaced by Moss’ longtime friend Brandon Burghart due to Keith’s inability to join them on the road. So Burghart, Levin, and Moss took off in the summer of 2008, and started the first TMGT tour. They had no idea how to make it succeed with the little money the clubs paid. There were even a few instances where they resorted to panhandling for gas money.

After a couple tours the bass role was filled in by Odie Lallo. After their 2009 tour the band decided to relocate to Kansas. Burghart’s home state and where Moss lived for seven years prior. They chose to affordably self-record their debut album in a country house outside of Topeka, Kansas. Topeka native David Kimmell would then become the new bassist. Burghart, Kimmell, and Moss, went back out on the road for a long period of touring. In 2010 they went on their first DIY European tour, in which they were met with great success.

The Midnight Ghost Train released their second full length album, “Buffalo in 2012. The album was recorded and mixed completely analog at Chase Park Transduction by David Barbe. It displays a more powerful and organic sound. TMGT recorded all the songs live in the studio, as to replicate the intensity of their live shows. “Buffal”o was faster and more driving than their previous releases. It was released on the Louisville label, Karate Body Records. Soon after the release, Kimmell left the band.. In April of 2013, they played the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Netherlands with friend Joseph Hester on bass. Shortly after, “Live from Roadburn 2013”, was released on Roadburn Records.

In 2014, TMGT signed with Austrian metal label, Napalm Records, who would issued their third length album, Cold Was The Ground”, in 2015 and their recently released fourth album, Cypress Ave, in 2017. Today we are rewinding the riffs back almost 5 years to the day of the albums release in order present arguably their best release to date Buffalo. So if you missed it the first time or indeed this band be sure to remedy your error by checking out our review in full below.

(Bio taken from the band's official page)

By: James Crozier

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/07/2012
Label: Karate Body Records

All in all, this album is just a great record for anyone interested in heavy blues/stoner rock and you’d be crazy not to add this to your collection.


“Buffalo” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). A Passing Moment of Sadness
2). Henry
3). Foxhole
4). Tom’s Trip
5). Spacefaze
6). Cotton Fields
7). Southern Belle
8). Into The Fray

The Review:

The Midnight Ghost Train is a Stoner Rock band from Topeka, Kansas and their third release ‘Buffalo’ is one solid chunk of stoner goodness. If you’re looking for something that resembles ZZ Top trampled by mammoths, look no further than this record.

The guitars and bass here have got that quintessential stoner tone. If you’re into your stoner rock, you’ll know what I mean. It’s that perfect combination of fuzz and grit. Couple this with the natural groove you get with this kind of music and you’ve got some seriously head bang-able music. That’s not all though, as The Midnight Ghost Train aren’t afraid of switching it up and going for some totally clean stuff, replete with copious ‘wah-ing’ and soloing. It’s apparent that blues is as much an influence with this band as rock/metal, which is great in my opinion.

Again, the vocals on this record have a distinct bluesy feel to them, even if they do tend to take a back seat to make way for the monster riffage from time to time. The low-pitched gritty growl that you only seem to get from these awesome American bands features prominently.  Drums complement the rest of the music perfectly and every tune is full of the kind of stick work we’ve come to know and love in this genre. Plenty of massive cymbals along with huge tom build-ups are what you should expect here. The stand-out thing about the drums, and the whole of the sound on this record for that matter, is the immense production. This is thanks to producer David Barbe who’s managed to fully capture the sound of this truly brilliant band.

In terms of standout tracks, there’s quite a few.

Although it could be seen as just an intro track, the first song on the record ‘A Passing Moment of Madness’, is a brilliant tune in its own right. The first thing that reaches your ears is an almost tribal drum beat. Not long after, the riffage kicks in, well and truly smacking you in the face.

The transition to the next song begins with a great ‘wah’ build up and it really works well. The song in question is called ‘Henry’ and in my opinion this is the best track on the whole record. Here is a combination of pretty much everything that’s great about The Midnight Ghost Train and even if you bought the record just for this tune, it’d be worth it.

Luckily, the fun doesn’t stop there and the next track ‘Foxhole’ carries on in the same vain. Both these tracks are just slabs of juicy stoner rock to sink your teeth into.  In a brilliant twist, ‘Tom’s Trip’ pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s trippy as hell, but almost in a cowboy-ish way if that makes sense. Images of an opium den tucked away in the wild west somewhere are conjured up and frankly it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. But that’s not where it ends. We’re treated to a fantastic solo that’s perfect for this track.

Apart from the cover of ‘Cotton Fields’, the rest of this album carries on in the same vein as the first three tracks and they’re all great stoner rock tunes.

All in all, this album is just a great record for anyone interested in heavy blues/stoner rock and you’d be crazy not to add this to your collection. This truly is a great album and it’s going to be on heavy rotation in my cd player for a long time!

Band info: bandcamp || facebook