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‘That Witch’ – Dark Western Music Review

dark western musicFrom the London Celtic Punks website: “One of the best bands to wield a banjo IN THE WORLD Phantom Of The Black Hills soak in influences as varied as Country, Punk, Goth, Folk, Bluegrass with distorted vocals and mysterious mystique and a dark, very dark western music ethos.

That Witch is their 6th studio album and they are accompanied by Mather Louth from renowned ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles.

To put it simply Phantom Of The Black Hills are fantastic!!

When I saw that their was a new Phantom Of The Black Hills album on the way I can admit to being pretty bloody excited. Even though I love music we receive so much here at London Celtic Punks Towers that it is hard sometimes to rally up enthusiasm for new releases but for That Witch I was even willing to pay (those that know me will know how incredible that is!). Luckily for my Scots /Yorkshire sensibilities I was incredibly lucky to receive a free download from Ratchet Blade Records and it’s not left my lugholes ever since!

Dark Western Music

The Phantom and Mather Louth

That Witch had originally been planned for release in 2020 but with all the shit going on was delayed almost a year. For those wishing to pigeonhole the label’s most bandied about for the Phantom Of The Black Hills are ‘hellbilly’, ‘frontier-core’ or ‘doom country’ and all capture them pretty fairly squarely and imaginatively. Taking elements of Country, Folk, Punk, Psychobilly, Bluegrass and dark western music, while mixing traditional instruments like mandolin, banjo and fiddle but combining them with fiercely dark and angry polemic, crunching guitars, snarling distorted vocals, intense sound effects and cleverly used movie dialog this is one ‘country’ band you won’t see at the Grand Ole Opry! Shrouded in secrecy hiding themselves away from the glare of publicity the bandana’s they wear in their videos and photos are very careful not to give away any clue as to their identities so it’s kind of hard to tell you anymore about the band themselves! That Witch is their sixth album, the last being Scalped in 2017. That album was to first to feature guest vocals from the lovely Mather Louth on ‘Wild Witch Of The West’ (be sure to check out the brilliant video). She also doubles up as the lead singer of excellent fellow ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles and she guest vocals on pretty much the whole of That Witch giving the album that little extra special range.

Phantom of the Black Hills

That Witch begins in superb form with ‘Rising Son’ and The Phantom snarling his way through a song that takes the point of view of Native American’s and their resistance to the early settlers who sought to steal their land and force them onto special reservations.

“This ain’t Oklahoma
And I was here long before ya
Mistress Darkness has come
And when the night is done
I’m the rising son”

The song is a slow burner. A dark foreboding of what is to come building to a climax in the lyrics rather than the tune. Excellent fiddle throughout from El Gato is matched by Popeye on guitar, banjo and bass and Deacon on drums.

‘That Witch’ sees The Phantom and Mather dueling it out on vocals and it’s another dark slower song and I think it’s fair to say that while their albums have progressively darker the sound has mellowed somewhat though the heaviness of the music does mitigate that. You often think you’re listening to a much faster song than you actually are. We get a fast one next with the album’s lead single ‘Buck Knife’ and the tragic tale of a veteran of the Civil War suffering from PTSD. On returning to his home town he is shunned and the story climaxes in a orgy of deadly violence before ending with the kind of twist to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Heathen Apostles are one hell of a band in their own right and it is absolute genius to team her up with the Phantom Of the Black Hills. The perfect foil to The Phantom’s vocals her beautiful voice on ‘Lady Judas’ belies the story while we do see a lot less of the electric guitar like on next track ‘Moon Killer’ with vocals now dominating but it works a treat and the distorted vocals are still clear enough to understand every word and the various tales of  violence, drunkenness, debauchery and revenge.

“Time to take a vow and consecrate
Using skin and motion as my bait
The cauldron is a-bubblin’
Got to go and show him sin
Lucifer just don’t want to wait…”

‘Hunger’ is co-written by Mather Louth and the band and she leads here her voice soaring above the bands train-like rumble and that majestic fiddle.  The Phantom takes the rein back for ‘Road To Bleeding’. This is the kind of song that previously they would have slung hard and heavy electric guitar all over but now they treat more gently. ‘Sin & Sanctify’ is as close (still not that close really) as they come to a traditional Country song while the album continues to its violent conclusion with two of the album’s best songs ‘Wicked Storm’ and the storming ‘Attack’.

Phantom of the Black Hills - Dark Western Music

That Witch was released July 2nd on Ratchet Blade Records. The Los Angeles based label home to the Heathen Apostles, Doghouse Lords, the Mau Maus, Charley Horse, Berlin Brats and many more. Ratchet Blade Records describes itself, correctly, as “the best in dark roots music”. Once again it features the amazingly talented former The Cramps bassist, and current Heathen Apostles one, Chopper Franklin on production duties. To be honest I’m kinda upset this ain’t a Celtic-Punk album as it would definitely be up there in our end of year Best Of awards. Looks like I’m going to have to make up a special new category just for them!
Dark Western Music

The Phantom Of The Black Hills have come a long way since Ghosts and while their sound may not be quite as raucous as then they still are as powerful and heavy and perform even more dark western music than ever before. The teaming up with the beautiful Mather Louth adds a whole new dimension to the sound. It’s a dark world out there and the imagery The Phantom Of The Black Hills conjure up in the mind may not be a pleasant one but it’s an imaginative one filled with the ghosts of the wronged, deserted mines and villages, dust and dirt and the people who lived there and also the  best music the ‘old’ west can produce.”

Hellbilly Lyric Videos “Rising Son” & “Buck Knife”

Ratchet Blade RecordsHellbilly lyric videos has released two hellbilly lyric videos from the new Phantom of the Black Hills album That Witch. Here are the videos for Rising Son and Buck Knife, along with some brief descriptions:

The Massacre at Wounded Knee was initially referred to as the “Battle of Wounded Knee”. A metal plate was added to the signage at the site to correct this, and remains to this day.

By the time the massacre was over, more than 250 men, women and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded (4 men and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead as high as 300.

Twenty US soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their participation in the slaughter. By contrast, only three Medals of Honor were awarded among the 64,000 South Dakotans who fought for four years of World War II:

The lyric video for the song Buck Knife tells the tale of a Civil War veteran suffering from PTSD and the reception he receives when he returns home:

Pre Sale For Dark Country Album “That Witch”

dark country albumThe pre sale has launched for the sixth Phantom of the Black Hills dark country album “That Witch”, out July 2nd on Ratchet Blade Records. It features the Heathen Apostles’ Mather Louth on vocals and Chopper Franklin once again pulling production duties. The digital pre sale is the album for the reduced price of $5, and the CD pre sale includes the digipak CD (as well as the digital download), 2 POTBH buttons and a POTBH Shotgun sticker, all for $10. You will also receive early shipping of your order before the release date, as well as an immediate download of the title track.

Check it out HERE.

That Witch
1. Rising Son
2. That Witch
3. Buck Knife
4. Lady Judas
5. Moon Killer
6. Hunger
7. Road To Bleeding
8. Sin & Sanctity
9. Wicked Storm
10. Attack

Phantom of the Black Hills Releasing “That Witch” – Heavy Western Music

Phantom of the Black Hills- Heavy Western MusicYour favorite doom country band the Phantom of the Black Hills are releasing some new Heavy Western music, and their labelmates Heathen Apostles are all over it. Their lead vocalist Mather Louth is singing on several of the songs, and bandmate Chopper Franklin produced and mixed it. Here’s the press blurb from RBR:

Ratchet Blade Records is proud to announce the July 2nd release of “That Witch”, the highly-anticipated seventh release from the notorious hellbilly/doom country band the Phantom of the Black Hills. True Heavy Western music, “That Witch” is the follow up to Ghosts (2009), Born To Gun (2010), ENEMY! (2012) and Black Hearted Killer EP (2013), Moonshine Bright (2014) & Scalped (2017) and was produced and mixed by Chopper Franklin.

The band is joined on the album by Mather Louth, lead vocalist for the Gothic Americana band the Heathen Apostles, of which Franklin is also a member.

Check back for the launch of the That Witch Pre Sale in June.

POTBH - Heavy Western music

Track Listing:
1. RISING SON
2. THAT WITCH
3. BUCK KNIFE
4. LADY JUDAS
5. MOON KILLER
6. HUNGER
7. ROAD TO BLEEDING
8. SIN & SANCTITY
9. WICKED STORM
10. ATTACK

POTBH and Mather Louth Collab Once Again

Mather Louth

Mather Louth

The Phantom of the Black Hills are back in the studio to record a new album, and once again they will be collaborating with Mather Louth, the lead singer for the Gothic Americana band the Heathen Apostles. They previously worked together on Wild Witch of the West (you can check out the wild music video for the song HERE), the lead single from their last album, 2017’s Scalped. This time Ms. Mather Louth will have a bigger role in the project, singing and writing on several songs on the new album. The album is roughly scheduled for a Spring 2020 release on Ratchet Blade Records, and it will once again be produced by Chopper Franklin (Heathen Apostles, The Cramps, Mau Maus).

Phantom & Mather Louth 2020

WILD WITCH OF THE WEST
(lyrics by Phantom of the Black Hills and Mather Louth)

Drag me to hell, and howl it up all night
A haunted heart, got the feeling right

Trigger finger warm, her blood runnin’ cold
A sunken sun, time to bring the show

Your death is her fascination
Sent to hell to stay; well, hell, she’ll show the way
She’s serving up some damnation
Badder than the rest, the Wild Witch of the West

Spells in the wind, crows fill up the sky
She’s so gone, can’t be rectified

Drums beatin’ dark, corpses in the street
Her eyes wild, guns spittin’ heat

She’s bringin’ your devastation
Yeah, she’ll mark your grave, and send you on your way
Your grief is her incantation
Bringin’ all the best, the Wild Witch of the West

Hex taking aim,
It’s you I’ve come to claim
One last bone to pick
that bears your name

I’m crossing over the threshold
Sweeping off the ashes and the brimstone
You’d best not find yourself alone
Every story ends the same,
Another moth caught by the flame

Doom Country Music Rundown by London Celtic Punks

Here’s a great run down of the 5 Phantom of the Black Hills albums by London Celtic Punks. Their website states: “The London Celtic Punks are a group of people living in or with connections to London. We are dedicated to the promotion of Celtic-Punk music. That’s the traditional folk music of the Celtic nations (Ireland/Eire, Isle Of Man/Mannin, Scotland/Alba, Wales/Cymru, Cornwall/Kernow, Brittany/Breizh, Galicia/Galiza and Astures) mixed with rock’n’punk.” They really get doom country music, here’s the introduction they wrote for the piece, you can check out the full article HERE.POTBH - doom country music

Phantom of the Black Hills are one of the most innovative bands you will ever hear that has a banjo! This isn’t the Country music of Nashville or the Grand Ole Opry instead its angry polemic over bluegrass banjo, mandolin and upright bass mashed together with raucous punk guitar, blistering drums and dirty, snarling distorted vocals with extreme sound effects and movie dialogue samples. They are one of my favourite bands so I thought I’d attempt to convert a few of you lot too.

The Black Hills are a mountain range in South Dakota famous for the Mount Rushmore memorial of the four presidential heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln carved into the granite. It’s also an area where large populations of Scots and Scots-Irish settled which may explain the areas fondness for moonshine. Production of illegal alcohol that is still widespread today. Another possible by-product of the Celtic on the local population is widespread mistrust of all government. Many see themselves as outlaws and in the Black Hills you are unlikely to find a Vegan coffee shop or demand for stricter gun control laws. Phantom Of The Black Hills are a band that shy away from publicity. From the bandana’s that hide their faces in their videos and photos to their Web-Site and Facebook page that are very careful not to give away any clue as to their identities. 

Scalped – Peek-a-Boo Magazine ‘Aggro Americana’ Review

aggro AmericanaTheir faces are shrouded in a sort of bandana with eyeholes, like a bad outlaw of an imaginary Western encapsulated into an a temporal dimension of aggro Americana.

Phantom of the Black Hills hail from South Dakota and have reached their fifth album showing an eversive attitude that reminiscent of The Clash. A track like “Raised On Fire”, for example, resembles a gift pack with “London Calling” inside.

A raspy, distorted voice is the backbone of each song conducting the traditional instruments (fiddle, banjo, and mandolin) to crash against a wall of guitars and drums, adding a roughness to the fiery climate.

“Wild Witch of the West” is a delicious ballad with special guest vocalist Mather Louth, member of Radio Noir and Heathen Apostles.

The highlights begin with “Dr. Dealer” that advances solemn, justifying the term ‘doom country’ often associated with the group. Harsh guitar and metronomic drums ensure thickness and atmosphere.

“Torchy” seems The Gun Club sharing an insane gig with the Country Gazette while the sinister bells of “Blow It Up” look back to Black Sabbath’s first album, tracing the coordinates of a ride on a heavy-punk carousel. “Chiva”, and “Jeckill and Hide” are two fine silverware pieces, dramatic, pressing and goth-tinged. The imagery of the band is purely Gothic Western, a dusty mosaic, made of abandoned mines and wandering ghosts, faded pictures of bandits and hanged men joined with a powerful anti-establishment soul.

aggro Americana

One more time, Chopper Franklin (The Cramps, Heathen Apostles) is the man in the control room. As ever, he has a very specific and recognizable hand, amalgamating all the components of the dark roots universe (an ideal arc from hellbilly to deathrock) in one shot.

Somewhere, out there, a memory of the ’80s cowpunk spirit has survived thanks to Phantom of the Black Hills and similar groups. However, this time equipped with flamethrower and vitriol.

You can check out Scalped HERE.

Sergio MANGHINA

POTBH on New Gothic Western Site

Heathen Apostles - Gothic WesternPhantom of the Black Hills have been featured on the new Gothic Western site GothicWestern.com, a new collective dedicated to all Gothic Western and Southern Gothic. Check out the write up, then peruse all the features, they have articles on music, movies & TV, fashion, art and lifestyle, all relating to everything Gothic Western. To visit the site and see the article click HERE.

THE Hellbilly Band Deals – Phantom of the Black Hills on eBay

Ratchet Blade Records has put up some great deals for their favorite hellbilly band Phantom of the Black Hills, some of these bundles include the new album Scalped and the new band T Shirt design, as well as previous releases and the classic Phantom “Sword” T shirt design (both in Men’s and Girly T). There are also buttons, stickers, download cards and more! And if you have one of the items you can give it away as a gift and keep the other items for yourself. Click HERE to check them out.

POTBH - hellbilly bandPOTBH - hellbilly band

POTBH Doom Country Album Reviewed in “Ox Zine” (Germany)

POTBH- doom countryOx Zine, the #1 rock music magazine in Germany, has reviewed the Phantom of the Black Hill’s new doom country album Scalped in their latest issue (you can preview and order Scalped HERE). Here is a translation from German:

Ashes on my head: In Ox # 118 I called the last album of the PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS their fifth. Now I learn that the current work “Scalped” is number five in the discography, also in the band are five masked Hellbilly bastards from South Dakota. Sitting in the producer’s chair once again is the former THE CRAMPS bassist Chopper Franklin, and the absolutely insane mix of doom country, rock, industrial music and spoken-word passages is still kinda trashy (to the insane bad Billo cover, which refreshingly tops the unsightly layouts of almost all HAYSEED DIXIE albums). It’s innovative alright and not homogeneous: a classic Bluegrass song like the opener “Wild Witch of the West” and then one with extremely distorted vocals on “One for the Gut”, (which strangely enough reminds me of TURBONEGRO’S “Ass Cobra”), are worlds apart. Definitely a plate that you can sort on the shelf under “Special Interest”.   – Christian Krüger


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