Ghost Bath are a band who’ve made quite a name for themselves in the last few years. A very polarizing one at that. Not only do they fall into that category of Post-Black Metal, in which most of those bands get bombarded with the word ”Hipster”, which some, deservingly so, but I think these guys are a little better than that, but also add in that fuckery that went down with the release of their last album Moonlover, where they were revealed not to be an anonymous band from China, which they initially hid behind the guise of, but just a band from North Dakota. Yeah, real mature, guys. Anyway, that also turned a lot of people off from them. I personally don’t give a shit, but that sort of thing won’t earn you any brownie points. But I digress. This is the third full length album by these North Dakotians, and much like the last one, you can expect the same style of super melodic but very Atmospheric Post-Black Metal. Sort of similar to Fen, but a lot more melodic and riff-driven as opposed to focusing more on atmosphere and creating more of a potent listening experience, which isn’t a bad thing in essence, but in this case, I have to be a little critical.
First, let me say that this is not a bad album. Far from terrible, and not bad at all. My main issue is a lot of the melodic element that they use and the tone they try to set with their sound. The way I see it, they go for the Woods of Ypres type of feel (but don’t do it nearly as well). They try to sound melancholic, but sort of uplifting at the same time. The problem with it is they try wayyyyyyyyy too hard to do so and it just ends up sounding corny. A lot of the riffs are very feel-goodish and positively-toned and it just comes off as too hippy-happy, similar to what Anathema are currently doing. Trying to incorporate a sense of optimism into the sadness and melancholy of your sound won’t exactly work unless it’s well-balanced. In this case, it’s not. The optimism outweighs the melancholy far too much and that’s what hurts things here.
On the other hand, the darker and more atmospheric side of things is really good. Underneath all the melody and riffage, we do have a very solid Atmospheric Post-Black Metal band at the core. If the melodic element were to be removed, we’d have a much better product, once again, very similar to Fen. I’m a strong believer in ”less is more” and in my opinion, that can’t be any more evident here. When you rely too much on one element while not paying enough attention to the other, things will just implode and get lost in translation. That’s what I think happened here. The other big gripe that I have with this album, and once again i’m going to bring their name up, is that it suffers from the same issue that the new Fen album does. This is a lengthy album, clocking it at an hour and ten minutes long and a majority of the songs are longer in length and as a result, it starts to get tedious and tiring to sit through. That’s another thing a lot of bands fail to realize. A shorter, easier listen will also improve an album quality-wise. Again, less is more.
Overall, like I said, this isn’t a terrible album. Not even necessarily a bad one, it just suffers from a lack of balance between the two main elements it tries to incorporate. I still like Ghost Bath and I don’t think the ”Hipster Black Metal” branding that they get is all that warranted, but this one could have been better. That’s all. If you’re a fan of them and like this album, I can totally see why, this is just how I see it. Hopefully they can improve on this and find their footing soon.
Until next time.