Ghost Bath were not a band I had come across before having been handed a copy of their latest opus to try, so it was with some curiosity and a little dash of excitement that I hit play on “Starmourner”, having no idea what to prepare my ears for.
Hailing from North Dakota, US, Ghost Bath already have a couple of full-lengths and an EP behind them, having formed some time in 2012. Interesting fact time – Ghost bath once claimed to be from Chongqing, China, however, a 2015 interview with Noisey revealed their true origins. What ever possessed them to make that up, who knows – but a little mystery never harms a band's reputation and often gets people talking about them. The only bad publicity is no publicity, as they say. The band's Chinese name is apparently “鬼浴”. Well, the more you know.
So what can be said about this album? For a doom/black metal effort, this is bizarrely uplifting, even “happy”, most of the way through. At times plodding along at a gentle pace, and others blasting along at the full 120mph in exemplary black metal style, this isn't an album that is immediately easy to get to grips with or categorise. Swinging wildly from gentle melodies to epic, sweeping, almost power metal style riffs, through to blast beats and screamed vocals, this really is an odd album with a real mix of influences showing through.
Somehow deeply reminiscent of old early 2000s black metal, this album has 'retro' stamped all over it, yet also feels fresh, reminding me at times of Wolves in the Throne Room or Deafheaven and other “post-black metal” types. Choosing a stand-out track here is difficult – really difficult, but “Thrones” showcases this band at their raw, Powerful and emotional best, while “Angelic” shows their softer, more relaxing side.
If you're a black metal, doom, or melodic metal aficionado, and you fancy something a bit different to your usual standard fodder, Starmourner could be the chirpy little slice of cosmic chaos you were looking for.
Starmourner is out now everywhere through Nuclear Blast Records