Ghost Bath
Starmourner


2.5
average

Review

by zaruyache USER (21 Reviews)
April 24th, 2017 | 144 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Repetitive writing and an inability to edit for content results in an album filled with moments of brilliance scattered among heaps of filler.

Ghost Bath’s rise into the limelight was quick but relatively short-lived with their highly anticipated but underwhelming sophomore release, 2015’s Moonlover. Despite beginning strongly with epic depressive-ish black metal akin to a more emotionally wild Woods of Desolation, it was unfortunately marred by problems with pacing and consistency. While the album indulged in both fast, epic pieces and emotionally weighty dirges, its general execution was so generally flawed that it never appeared wholeheartedly committed to any one style or direction, as if the band as a whole was still ultimately searching for its identity.

Two years later, Ghost Bath have released their third record--the ever so poignantly titled Starmourner--and with it have begun to actually solidify and devote themselves to one consistent direction. Unfortunately for Ghost Bath, though, a more stylistically uniform Ghost Bath is still Ghost Bath, and Ghost Bath as a band have still never been known for their songwriting consistency. It’s no that surprise, then, that while Starmourner might be a step forward for the band in many respects (and it definitely is), it still makes so many inadvertent missteps that, on the whole, it still almost feels inferior to its predecessor--despite actually featuring much of the group’s best material.

On Starmourner, the band have opted to not only drift toward a more “atmospheric” sound, but also have also largely dumped their “depressed” shtick in order to indulge in happier melodies, more upbeat sections, and a generally faster pace. While these changes do make the band’s sound more consistent and powerful, changes to the rhythm ultimately make the band’s newfound direction feel much more repetitive and one-dimensional than before. Whereas before rhythm and bass guitars were clearly distinct from each other in the mix they now have been mostly aligned to work in tandem; the heavily reverb-laden bass now grumbles and booms along in the background to fill up space as the rhythm guitar growls slightly above it. This all seems more-or-less intended to create a lower end sound powerful enough to push songs onward, but benign enough keep the focus on the endless melodic noodling obviously intended as Starmourner’s true focus.

The real problem with this setup is the band’s newfound reliance on exceptionally basic rhythm playing, with the bass/guitar opting for power chords and exceptionally basic chord progressions over “real” riffs for the majority of the album. While just sort of bumbling along in every track definitely does help make Starmourner’s leads seem much more significant and center-stage, it also makes the album end up having only a handful of memorable riffs across its twelve tracks, which is a problem given its substantial runtime. At seventy minutes, this one-sided focus and lack of clear dynamic songwriting makes many of these tracks feel quite the same: melodic leads come in, shrieked vocals accompany, bass/guitars grumble in the background, and blast beats are everywhere. Tide goes in, tide goes out.

The band’s ridiculous refusal to edit for quality and time further damages the record, forcing many of Starmourner’s truly quality pieces to become buried among piles of mediocre soundalikes. The one-two-three punch of Thrones/Elysian/Cherubim, for example, definitely contains some of the band’s absolute best material and is the strongest stretch of tracks on the album by far, but is awkwardly shoved into the latter half of the record over forty minutes in. While the first half of the album does boast some great songwriting here and there (the happy upbeat harmonies in “Celestial,” the Deafheaven-y shoegazing and “Legend of Zelda”-esque synth outro of “Ethereal”), it’s hard to care about “Cherubim’s” happy upbeat rhythms and “Elysian’s” “so silly they’re fun” harmonized guitar parts when they’re shoved all the way back to the end of the record behind a mountain of far inferior pieces.

With so much repetition and such a runtime, Ghost Bath are their own worst enemies on Starmourner. Although their change toward happier black metal may have helped improve their pacing and solidified their style, their repetitive writing and inability to edit for content has resulted in an album filled with moments of brilliance scattered among heaps of filler. While Ghost Bath still could very well in time become a notable black metal act capable of releasing solid records (if given the right guidance), that time is clearly not yet--and Starmourner is definitely not one of those albums.



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user ratings (82)
Chart.
2.1
poor
other reviews of this album
Brett Tharp STAFF (1.5)
Album is bad/10...

Chamberbelain (2)
Ghost Bath's happy-go-lucky approach goes downhill....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
zaruyache
April 23rd 2017


17550 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

This review is long and wanting in quality content--kinda like this album ;p

Digging: Gabor Szabo - Dreams

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2017


2692 Comments


Your review rating is too high

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2017


881 Comments


great review. i'll probably just pass on this album despite my general love for PBM

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun

Prancer
April 23rd 2017


353 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Your review rating is too high [2]

zaruyache
April 23rd 2017


17550 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

fixd bb. Bear in mind I do like this post-black bs more than I should/I am fvlse bm.

rufinthefury
April 23rd 2017


2946 Comments


i bet this sucks.
great review

Nostreetdate
April 23rd 2017


48 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A lot of anime on this

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2017


10717 Comments


Great review, might check this out but hot damn did reading that it's 70 minutes really turned me off.

Digging: Storm - Nordavind

zaruyache
April 24th 2017


17550 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

"A lot of anime on this"



Initially was going to mention that but yea, there's also a little that sounds like 80's power rock and even a little Christmasy music too lol.

Nostreetdate
April 24th 2017


48 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Definitely...and I don't mention it in the haughty edgelord way we all can sometimes get on here...it's cool...I just think the songwriting could perhaps be a little less discursive and more cogent in how it pieced those elements together because there are some ear worms in the leads.

brainmelter
April 24th 2017


4236 Comments


lmao, I almost kind of feel bad for them for some reason
pos

Digging: Salami Rose Joe Luis - son of a sauce!

Asdfp277
April 24th 2017


15162 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

bet this is better than sunbather

EphemeralEternity
April 24th 2017


2960 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

this album is the equivalent to anticipating a fart but shitting yourself

17WordHaiku
April 24th 2017


251 Comments


This band is really lame. Even though the music was always kind of subpar, i could at least appreciate the anonymity but once they signed to nuclear blast they became so cringy. Hate to use that buzzword, but their Facebook literally made me cringe. Now i just really dislike this band.

Asdfp277
April 24th 2017


15162 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

they keep posting links to 9/10 reviews for this album, there's no way they're not paying for those

PatientlyDead
April 24th 2017


50 Comments


"bet this is better than sunbather"

oh fur sure

Chamberbelain
April 24th 2017


61 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn, got there before me. Album is incredibly meh.



Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun

Krvst
April 24th 2017


322 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Getting past track 3 was impossible so incredibly bland

zaruyache
April 24th 2017


17550 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

skip to tracks 8-10; ignore the rest :3

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2017


10130 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

not sure why you feel like this is more consistent or directed, feels to me like this is even more confused and stylistically spastic than the last one

Digging: Wolves in the Throne Room - Thrice Woven



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