It was a common complaint that rock has lost its “edge”. Not sure about that, there have always been bands that happily will crank up the distortion and singing like their throats had been through a shot deathmatch of pangalactic gargleblasters.
I honestly don’t know if that’s what the people of The Midnight Ghost Train have been drinking. The gravelly voice of Steve Moss certainly has a grit that no distortion pedal can equate. Yes, that’s what the album is: gravel in the ears (but in a friendly way).
In true Southern Rock fashion, there is a lot of blues in here, but with the distortion and overdrive cranked up to a highly swollen level (they are probably trying to reach Moss’ tone). ‘A passing moment of madness’ starts the proceedings, defining the sound of the band in less than two minutes. Riffs, pounding drums and a foreboding sense of driving through the backwater roads of a humid state (Louisana for the Americans, Tamaulipas for us Mexicans). The phaser/wah is just an added bonus (it will come back later).
‘Henry’ continues the fierce attack of the opening number, with some insanely heavy guitar stuff. This is the perfect counterprogramming to the sometimes too low music you get on the Indie scene. All are welcomed, more so if there’s variety.
Now, there’s a couple of tracks that really require your attention. ‘Foxhole’ has “attitude” tattooed in each hand (it’s a small font) and it becomes a proper rollercoaster of emotions; all of them heavy, all of them energetic. And the phaser/wah effect is back here, in full blown use for all of us to enjoy its trippiness. ‘Spacefaze’ goes for a chunkier side of distortion, and the ritualistic drumming gives it an otherworldly presence. The trippy, slow part is just another face of the band, a slow psychedelic detour before heading back to the highway and its distorted howls.
Mind you, there is a heavy psychedelic groove going here. ‘Tom’s trip’ told me so! It’s the less noisy (sort of) track of Buffalo, the one where the full on attack is abandoned and a more strategic invasion to the senses takes place. Love the guitar tone in the solo, just crisp and full of emotion.
There’s a cover of ‘Cotton Fields’, a clap and stomp number. Think of it as Buffalo‘s equivalent of ‘We will rock you’, with even a swanky acoustic guitar outro. It’s just the band getting ready to pull the rug, as the aggressive sounds return with a vengeance (and a loaded .44) in ‘Southern Belle’ a song with the only drawback of being a bit short. Still, a song for the spiteful is more than welcomed for us on that emotional stage. ‘Into the fray’ closes the album with style and a mean left hook.
The Midnight Ghost Train‘s website has a bio, where I found out (with a lump in my throat) that this band started as an eulogy to a friend of the band called John Goff. Buffalo has all the ticks crossed of being a perfect tribute and The Midnight Ghost Train should be damn proud of delivering such a great album.
Words: Samuel J. Valdés López