When it comes to the music of South Dakota’s doom country and hellbilly music desperadoes Phantom of the Black Hills, two worlds couldn’t collide more violently, with plenty of bluegrass banjo pickin’, backwoods mandolin and upright bass thumpin’, together with loud punk guitar, hard-hitting drums and dirty, snarling vocals. This definitely isn’t your grandpappy’s country music, that’s for sure. And let me tell you, these fellas don’t look like the strummers and singers your grandpappy watched at the Grand Ole Opry or Louisana Hayride; instead, with cowboy hats pulled down over menacing outlaw masks, button-down shirts with suspenders, jeans and leather boots, these bandits look better suited to rob a stage coach or hold up a bank than lay down their hellfire songs.
Speaking of Phantom of the Black Hills’ songs, they pretty much go down like burning swigs of old Appalachian hooch; but they also make you want to move your legs a bit, like the twitching limbs of a condemned man danging from the gallows. On all albums — Ghosts, Born to Gun, ENEMY!, Moonshine Bright and Scalped — it quickly becomes clear that their songs are much more mechanical than organic, with loops and sampling, and with a lot more distortion than twang. Even more than that, their songs amount to a soundtrack for unleashing one’s inner sinner and going forth into a night of transgression, where one loses oneself in drunkenness, violence and hellbilly music debauchery, at the end of which one very well might have ruined one’s chances at heaven.
Phantom of the Black Hills is a loose and ever-changing assemblage of evildoers and musicians, with but two anonymous core members. These modern-day outlaws are the sort who pick buckshot out of their meals, guzzle firewater, hide out in seedy saloons and gambling shacks and brothels, hoot n’ holler and fire their six-guns at the moon. They’ve got the devil in ’em, and it shows in each and every song they write and play. They also colaborated with Heathen Apostles‘ singer Mather Louth on Wild Witch of the West, the first single from their Scalped album. Check out POTBH’s music HERE.