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Ghost Bath – Moonlover

Ghost Bath
by Erika Kuenstler at 19 April 2016, 12:20 AM

There's been quite a bit of controversy about GHOST BATH, with the band originally having been though to be from China, although actually hailing from USA, with critics saying this was a deliberate deception aimed at increasing their popularity. However, my first introduction to them was when I was randomly plumbing the depths of Youtube recommendations when my eye was caught by an image: a tied up woman with a cresent moon afixed to her head. The album artwork by Luis González Palma, so serene and tranquil one level and yet so sinister and twisted on another, fascinated me, and I just had to listen to the music contained therein. This album, released a full year ago, was GHOST BATH's sophomore effort entitled “Moonlover”.

Surprisingly, “Moonlover” has garnered mainly negative reviews, and an even greater number really flogged the DEAFHEAVEN comparison horse to death. Whilst the genre of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal is arguably an acquired taste, and the vocal style does take some getting used to for those not accustomed to the anguished screaming style, this is actually a solid release in my opinion. I personally find that the vocals lends the music an interesting juxtaposition which only highlights the emotional aspects all the more. Minimalistic sections consisting on one sole instrument accentuate these haunting melodies further, taking the listener on an ethereal journey of discovering the beauty in solitude and pain.

“The Sleeping Fields” starts us off on with a simple yet captivating melody, petering out before launching into the tempestuous fervour of "Golden Number". Wailing screams conjure up pictures of asylums, whilst an almost jovial guitar melody weaves through Atmospheric post-rock influences which seem almost painfully blissful in comparison. Indeed, as a whole, “Moonlover” can be seen in a lighter vein than it's predecessor “Funeral”. Which is not to say all is light and joyous; forming the dark backbone of the album are the songs “Happyhouse” and “Death and the Maiden”, casting a brooding air of depressed malevolence over "Moonlover". "Beneath the Shade Tree" is perhaps my favourite song, with waves of pure emotion waxing and waning like tides of a sonic ocean, allowing you to let go and fully submerge yourself. And following on from this, we have "The Silver Flower (part I)" , which captures the tranquility of nature, whilst the second part harnesses the darker and more unforgiving sides of that beauty, complete with mesmerising soundscapes. Ending off with the bonus song "Ascension", a feeling of release washes over you as the frantic storm subsides and droney vocals lull you into nothingness

Overall, “Moonlover” is a polar piece: you'll either love it, or you'll hate it. Whilst the songwriting is certainly more structured than on previous releases, the coherence between a few sections was slightly rougher than they could have been. Some of the songs also have a filler-like feel to them; it is a very fine line between using repetitiveness to build up atmosphere and allowing a melody to go on too long. Nevertheless, this is still a very good release overall, and I'd recommend this album for any fans of the Post-Rock or Atmospheric Metal genres.

Memorability: 7
Production: 8
Song Writing: 8
Originality: 7

3 Star Rating

1. The Sleeping Fields
2. Golden Number
3. Happyhouse
4. Beneath the Shade Tree
5. The Silver Flower (Part I)
6. The Silver Flower (Part II)
7. Death and the Maiden
8. Ascension (Bonus)
Dennis Mikula  Vocals, Guitars, Piano
Jaime – Bass
Taylor – Drums
Donovan – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 05 June 2023

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