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Album Review: Starmourner by Ghost Bath

Ghost Bath released their second album Starmourner on 21st April via Nuclear Blast Records. Considered by many to have a lot hinging on it, this is the epitome of a difficult second album. Manly down to people still having a grudge about the band allowing people to believe they were Chinese for some extra press attention, Ghost Bath will always receive a little extra scrutiny.

Of course, it’s also due to the critically acclaimed debut, Moonlover which bought Ghost Bath to the fore of the ‘atmospheric black metal’ scene. Starmourner is something else though. All notions of a ‘difficult second’ album is cast aside as you realise just how stunning this is. It won’t be instantaneous though, you probably won’t appreciate it on the first listen, give it a couple of goes – let yourself be reacquainted with Ghost Bath then get lost in the wondrous atmospherics, riffs and blast beats.

While Moonlover explores melancholy, sorry, depression, and earthly things; representing purgatory and, most importantly; tragedy the new album, takes these concepts to a higher level. It explores joy (instead of sorrow), the cosmos (instead of earth), and paradise (instead of purgatory.) But most importantly, it explores ecstasy -instead of tragedy- as its basic human emotion. With over 72 minutes of heavy, melodic, and dramatic black metal, it is Ghost Bath’s most ambitious undertaking yet.

The album takes its listener on a journey in a variety of ways; Each track is accompanied by a beautifully crafted painting as well as a “parable” to read alongside. This allows the listener to explore not only the audio soundscapes, but a visual and imaginative experience through as they delve into the album. “The stories, or parables, look into jewish angelology and the hierarchy of angels as found in the bible and other religious texts,” says Nameless (band leader). “Although the album has a definitive joyful and hopeful feel, it is still drenched in depression and sorry, as any true Ghost Bath record should be.”

It’s also an album that should be enjoyed as one single entity. To get the full effect and get the most out of Starmourner you’ve got to listen intently and dedicate 72 plus minutes of your life to it. You’ll be heavily rewarded with a stunningly emotional and fraught journey through doomy riffs, blast beats, post rock atmospherics and some chilling black metal vocals.

In a way, it feels unfair to single out any track for praise as they complement each other so well. While ‘Etheral’ revels in guitar solos and layered riffs, it works so well because it sits beside the ambitious atmospherics of ‘Celestial’. Likewise you have a run of four outstanding tracks in ‘Luminescence’, ‘Thrones’, ‘Elysian’ and ‘Cherubim’ any of which could make excellent singles, yet they provide their own nuances complementing each other and working best together.

Starmourner is an album that must be listened to to be believed. Stunning and emotionally resonating at every junction it pushes Ghost Bath to the upper echelons of the new wave of backgaze and atmospheric black metal.

AD Rating 9/10

 

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1 Comment on Album Review: Starmourner by Ghost Bath

  1. I completely agree with your review here. This album has taken me by surprise! Heavy, dramatic black metal that just wraps around you. Thanks for writing a reassuring review.

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  1. Playlist: Ghost Bath – Dennis Mikula talks synesthesia – Alt Dialogue

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