Official Site for the Hellbilly Cowpunk Music Outlaws

Rodentia Magazine

Phantom of the Black Hills
Ghosts
Ratchet Blade Records

Few albums take me by such a complete surprise as the debut by Phantom of the Black Hills’ “Ghosts”. From the first sounds of a fiddle decompose into a thuddingly dreadful banjo pluck on “Confessions of a Barn Burner” we know that there is an evil journey ahead of us.

Bluegrass banjo plucking behind the aggressive, nearly punk vocals dominate the album. The quality of the balance between the zero-twang vocals, top notch banjo playing, and Gun Club style punk meets country percussion cannot be understated. A misstep in any of these areas could have pushed the sound into one genre or another, but the album perfectly straddles the border between punk and country.

Sampling of women’s warnings, sermon’s, and what is presumed to be movie or radio blurbs are found throughout and are yet another risky addition that proved to be done perfectly. The samples add a mystique and vintage atmosphere to the album that would be lacking without. This is pushed to the limit on “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They”; a four minute galloping sound collage that Fatboy Slim and Satan would have made in the 1800’s.

“Ghosts” manages to avoid the biggest pitfall of albums in the Gothic Americana genre: pretentiousness. All too often, even established artists (yeah, we are talking about -), push the nostalgic or demonic angle too hard and it comes off as forced and fake.

“Ghosts” is by far not only one of the best albums of 2009, but is definitely Required Rodentia.

Eddie Obituary
Rodentia Magazine