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Ghost Bath - Moonlover Award winner

Ghost Bath
Moonlover
by H.P. Buttcraft at 05 February 2015, 11:02 AM

Coming from the great land of China, GHOST BATH have unleashed their third full-length album “Moonlover” very promptly after releasing last year’s “Funeral”. Although this follow-up album didn’t leave their fans barely any time to let the album “Funeral” sink in, “Moonlover” improves and evolves beyond the music of their last album. And they breach through these obstacles marvelously on their album’s monumental single “Golden Number”.

I don’t know about any of you out there reading this, but “Golden Number” gives me chills. It’s so good. This kind of music is unprecedented in its extraordinary way to keep improving itself over and over again. Imagine a blacksmith folding metal, overlapping itself and then being forged together and repeating this process to a razor-thin purification. Akin to the blacksmith, GHOST BATH does this with post-black metal. To truly discover this purity in music, you don’t need to know any spoken language known on Earth. Its magnificence cannot be expressed with words but merely primal, painful screams softly touching upon the immense beauty of the music like thunder belching from the inside of a mountain. And that mountain is haunted with millions of lonely spirits.

I think that it would be important to note the distinct similarities with this album and “Sunbather” from Bay Area-based shoegaze-and-black metal successors DEAFHEAVEN. It’s one thing to sound similar in style and form with GHOST BATH musically but even titles like “Moonlover”, “Happyhouse”, “Beneath the Shade Tree” which mimic DEAFHEAVEN titles like “Sunbather”, “Dream House”, & “The Pecan Tree”, perhaps GHOST BATH is trying to outdo their predecessors. The odd thing is that they totally accomplished that if that is what they were going for. If WOODS OF DESOLATION’s “As the Stars” hadn’t made me move on after “Sunbather”, GHOST BATH’s “Moonlover” has beaten a completely new path from which might make you ever return to DEAFHEAVEN. If they plan to stay relevant for their next album, they are going to have to do something completely unexpected because if their new music they are currently working on is even a hair shy of the quality of “Moon Lover”, the album will unquestionably flop with the critics.

When “Sunbather” was released in 2013, it was surprising to see it get so much praise from the media and outside musical scenes as well. DEAFHEAVEN shared a stage with OUTKAST and ELTON JOHN last year at Bonnaroo Festival. However, despite GHOST BATH’s absence from huge music festivals, their music trumps “Sunbather” on every conceivable level by never pulling any punches about whether the band was catering too much to post rock or to shoegaze. There is no vocal ambiguity like what you would hear on an ALCEST record. GHOST BATH, in their mysteriousness and their disconnection from the music industry, are about death and isolation and they draw their stylistic lines very deep into the sands of metal.

What I think the exceptional mastering job done on this record is a good example as to why this kind of music trumps any LIFELOVER record they ever made. One of the distinguishing factors about depressive black metal are its dirges delivered with throat ripping screams. To even speak in such a way of performance, it becomes a kind of self-possession where you allowing yourself to be consumed by beings that lurk in the spiritual realm.

Sometimes, yes, it’s just screaming. Similar to acting in film or theater, there are performers who just act out the script but sometimes you get actors that just do unforgettable performances. Likewise, when the vocal aspect is merely used as a dissonant and otherworldly musical instrument that cogitates around the distant vocal howling, there are some people who are merely reading a script. But the vocals here never seem out of place.

Depressive black metal in China has been recorded since 2006, with bands like BE PERSECUTED & DOPAMINE producing forward-thinking and memorable black metal. GHOST BATH’s place of origin seems to be the most excellent of places to make such sad, abysmal yet romantic music like this. I think China has been overlooked for a long time by the global metal community. It’s very clear that they are just as good from the US or Germany, the UK, France, Norway, Turkey, Japan, Australia, etc.

What I have seen for several years is this large movement of very extraordinary depressive black metal musicians from bands like ALCEST, PESTE NOIRE, LIFELOVER, AUSTERE, WOODS OF DESOLATION, HERETOIR, DOPAMINE, LIAM, LANTLOS and the list continues to grow. GHOST BATH was an underappreciated band in 2014 but with “Moonlover” I think they should expect to start receiving a lot more attention. This year has only just begun and we already have a memorable and fantastic hit straight out of the gates.

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Sleeping Fields
2. Golden Number
3. Happyhouse
4. Beneath the Shade Tree
5. The Silver Flower Pt. I
6. The Silver Flower Pt. II
7. Death And The Maiden
Lineup:
杰米 (Jaime) – Bass
泰勒 (Taylor) - Drums
多诺万 (Donovan) – Guitars, Vocals
丹尼斯  (Dennis Mikula) – Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Record Label: Northern Silence Productions
     


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