Ghost Bath – Starmourner Review

Released by: Nuclear Blast

Release date: 21 April 2017

Genre: Black Metal, Metal

Links: Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter , ghostbath.com

 

Line-up:

Jaime – Bass, Vocals

Taylor – Drums

Tim – Guitars

Donovan – Guitars, Backing Vocals

Dennis – Lead Vocals, Piano, Guitars

 

Track Listing:

01. Astral

02. Seraphic

03. Ambrosial

04. Ethereal

05. Celestial

06. Angelic

07. Luminescence

08. Thrones

09. Elysian

10. Cherubim

11. Principalities

12. Ode

 

The latest 12 track offering from Minot, North Dakota’s GHOST BATH titled Starmourner is full of hooks and technical brutality that both old and new fans of the band will enjoy.  

GHOST BATH are an example of what it means to steadfastly stay true to your vision. Since their formation in 2012, the American black-metal act has released three studio albums and one EP.  GHOST BATH have been described by Stereogum as a band that employs a mixture of harsh metal elements, including tremolo picked guitars and harsh vocals, and the atmospheric qualities of post-rock.  Their style has been frequently compared to fellow American black metallers Deafheaven in examples such as their breakthrough 2013 album titled Sunbather.

Influenced by many of today’s biggest black metal acts without ever ceasing to push their own signature sound, GHOST BATH has hit back with their latest release Starmourner which takes listeners on an astral path to the interstellar void.

Starmourner is a fresh breath on black metal with a post-rock sound from their earlier albums and which has developed and became more popular with bands like Deafheaven.  It offers the same hooks and riffs that fans expect from brutal blast beats from their nameless drummer to tremolo picked guitars with harsh vocals from their frontman.  Starmourner tells the story of someone in an infinite dream where they can’t tell if they are awake or not in reality and find themselves extremely lonely.
 
The track Thrones mixes the old black metal roots with the modern post-rock and shoegaze style sound that their last releases Moonlover incorporated but with a new more melodic approach.  The track begins with tremolo picked guitars and blast beat drumming with effects that create a dark atmosphere over the track.  The atmospheric sound shifts from darkened to a more lighter shoegaze effect which is dominant in bands like Alcest and it adds a more progressive feel to the track.  There is a guitar riff which is very post-rock and stands out before returning to a blacker metal sound.  There are three different genres combined in this one song and probably much more influences which create the GHOST BATH signature sound for the record.  What was surprising upon first listen was the complexity and the level of detail in the bands playing ability which was fresh to listen to as there isn’t any set pattern of what to expect next from breakdowns to blast beats and the lyrics back this in terms of diversity with having no set framework.  A piano can be heard softly playing behind the full band towards the end of the track and there are sounds which can be picked out with each listen that can go unnoticed before.  The track ends with a classical style guitar progression with a delay a spacious celestial synth effect which was 1970s B-Movie sounding.  

This latest release has a more experimental and progressive feel in especially in the vast vocal range of singer who will remain nameless in tracks “Celestial” and “Ambrosial”.  Ambrosial begins with clean picked guitars before bursting into heavy double bass drumming and distant sounding tremolo picked guitar.  The tone for the record is much the same and fans of the band know what to expect from their previous albums.  This particular track is good and heavy which should go down well live on their upcoming European tour with Katatonia and The Great Discord in May 2017.

Some fans have argued about this band changing their sound on this record to a less black metal one but it seems that they have developed their original sound into the modern setting with proper production.  There is a lot of experimentation from the very fine classical clean style tremolo picking in Ambrosial to the really heavy playing in Thrones which has an expansive instrumental section which lifts the band beyond the constraints of the black metal genre.
 
GHOST BATH Starmourner is out now through Nuclear Blast and all good record stores.  I think that all old and new fans will enjoy picking up this album and attending the band’s upcoming shows which can be found here:  nuclearblast.de

Written by: David Bell

Rating: 8/10

 

 

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