It's always amazing how time flies; it seems like just a while ago I was doing a review of GHOST BATH
, and yet apparently two years have passed, and controversial band is back with their third full-length album “Starmourner”
, due for release on 21st April. Now, don't let the name fool you. Whilst at some level you can't talk about the stars without mentioning the moon, and whilst love is so often intertwined with mourning, “Starmourner”
can't really be seen as the follow-up to “Moonlover”
. Rather, this album sees the band move even further from the confines of Black Metal, heading towards a mellower sound more reminiscent of Indie Rock.
With a dozen songs spanning over an hour's worth of music, “Starmourner”
features a much more positive sound than GHOST BATH
's other offerings. This difference is made clear from the start, with the almost jaunty piano intro courtesy of “Astral”
setting the tone. This morphs into an oriental-tinged melody, with this influence popping up seemingly at random throughout the album, for example making a reappearance on “Thrones”
. As with the previous albums, the vocals can take some getting used to, seemingly going against the flow of the music. “Ethereal”
is a much more atmospheric piece, with a slight melancholic feel offsetting the serene soundscape, whilst “Angelic”
is exactly what one would expect from such a title, with a tranquil melody showing a completely different facet of GHOST BATH
. At the apex of the album we have “Luminescence”
, a further up-beat song that. This stands in stark contrast to the instrumental song “Principalities”
, whilst closer “Ode”
brings back the despair in full force, closing the album on a melancholic note.
It seems that GHOST BATH
seem to thrive off of being controversial, and I think that one of the biggest gripes that many pickier fans will have with “Starmourner”
is the heavy influence which game music has clearly had in the songwriting process, to put it mildly. However, that being said, gamers might actually really enjoy hearing a “metalised” version of the music from their favourite games. On the plus side however, “Starmourner”
manages to incorporate moments of seething raw emotionality beneath a façade of tranquillity which has the potential to have been great. Whilst I normally find it fantastic when a song is diverse and varied, GHOST BATH
seem to teeter on the fine line between diversity and disorganised chaos. Despite being so varied at an individual level, if you look at the album as a whole, the songs seem to follow a similar structure, making the album in its entirety somewhat repetitive. Then there is the matter of the lyrics: there simply are none. Whilst this does certainly add to the atmosphere, and might have had some impact when done on one or two songs, it seems a bit superfluous to do this throughout the entire album. Especially an album as long as “Starmourner”
All of this leaves a rather bitter after-taste, which is a pity, as “Starmourner”
has the potential to have been really excellent. And doubtless, many people will overlook the flaws and simply enjoy the music. This is a release that will doubtlessly have many people either rooting for it or up in arms against it. But then again, GHOST BATH
seem to have a knack for doing just that.