Ghost Bath are a five-piece atmospheric black metal band from America. Among other things, they are characterised by a mixture of atmospheric melodies and a harsh black metal vocals. I absolutely loved Ghost Bath’s previous album ‘Moonlover’, with its bleak, depressive and desperate vibe, and found the idea of ‘Starmourner’ a very exciting sequel in this will-be trilogy. Even the album title itself intrigued me, with its direct contrast to the former. Plus, I think the artwork is gorgeous. I love how the smoke forms the shape of a moon, not unlike their previous album cover.
The album opens with an instrumental piano piece, which I found deliciously eerie; there are pauses for just a bit too long, notes just a bit to loud, and this track jolts you, leaves you waiting, and creates loads of anticipation for what’s to come. The track ends with a whole host of uncomfortable noises before breaking into the second track, ‘Seraphic’. I instantly like this because of the merry pace and upbeat melodies, and I am not disappointed when Dennis Mikula’s signature (and delightfully controversial) vocals rip through the happiness. The contrast – Beautiful. I think this makes a really nice start to the album. As well as those harsh vocals, some high tremolo picking gives the sensation of soaring within the track, and there is a very delicate ending. You can view Ghost Bath’s music video for ‘Seraphic’ just below.
The third track, ‘Ambrosial’ is off to a slightly darker start and the vocals get me with goosebumps. Within this track we can enjoy a bit more ‘riffiness’ and the song seems really well constructed and balanced. A great choice to release as a single, with some slower more repetitive sections. ‘Ethereal’ is off to another jolly start, with some beautiful melodies, a positive vibe and interesting drum work. ‘Celestial’ brings us a slower tempo, again with very positive guitar tones and some interesting chord choices. Mikula opens with choking, gasping vocals before breaking into those signature desolate cries. Plenty of blast beats in this track which contrast beautifully with the quieter passages. I really enjoyed Mikula’s tiny choking noises, which would be really eerie if not for the overall happy atmosphere of the song! The track concludes with a piano passage, some ghostly noises and the winding-down notes which make me think of a music box running out of power.
The other single Ghost Bath chose to pre-release, ‘Thrones’, packs a lot of punch, with some darker tones, plenty of blast beats and some gorgeous melodies. This is probably my favourite track overall. I love the guitar harmonies, and the use of pauses for suspense. Other tracks which really stand out to me are ‘Luminescence’, with a much faster pace, lovely bass tones, and some nice variety in rhythm and mood, as well as ‘Cherubim’, which has an unexpected country/gunslinger vibe and in places feels like an anthem with its catchy guitar melody. The album draws to a satisfying close with ‘Ode’, beginning with an instrumental piano piece and bringing us full circle, with a host of gentle, soothing and somewhat conclusive sounds.
Overall, I really enjoyed the album. I feel like there was a lot of focus on contrast and juxtaposition. Light vs darkness, happiness vs sorrow, loud vs quiet, fast vs slow and so on. Personally, I miss the desolate, agonising desperation we got from ‘Moonlover’, but found that I enjoyed this album in a completely different way. I really look forward to the release of the third part of this trilolgy. Earthdweller or Sunreacher, or whatever they decide to title it!
In May, Ghost Bath will support Katatonia and The Great Discord across the UK, and perform a headline show in London. The dates are as follows:
07.05. UK Leeds – The Brudenell
08.05. UK Bristol – The Marble Factory
09.05. UK Wolverhampton – Slade Rooms
10.05. UK Southampton – Engine Rooms
11.05. UK Manchester – Sound Control
12.05. UK Glasgow – Garage
13.05. UK Belfast – Limelight 2
14.05. IRL Dublin – Academy
16.05. UK London – Sebright Arms (Headline show)