Review Summary: Dark, twisted and oddly charming, Bath takes the listener down an unforgettable ride.
An album truly unfocused in nature usually tends to have a negative effect on the listener. Jumping from style to style often jars the ears and usually puts a damper on the experience. However, this concept can be easily overlooked if the artist’s creativity and passion overshadows said style’s spastic nature. Maudlin of the Well shot for the stars with Bath
and literally destroyed all odds against them by applying this scatterbrained concept to their masterful work with grace. Their innovative technique reveals a dark, twisted and yet oddly beautiful fantasy that can only be interpreted in numerous ways. This expertly crafted work proves to be eccentric, crazy, bipolar and most importantly, one of the most gratifying musical experiences of our generation.
The brilliance of Bath
happens to be how it simply cannot be described in one sentence. It has so much to offer that portraying it as a masterful progressive album only barely scratches the surface. It's art in the most profound sense. Take “The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth” for example, with its undeniably creative minimalism. The gentle piano and fantastic saxophone melody heightens the lush atmosphere to great effect. In addition to this, the song has exceptionally repetitious guitar work galore and makes for one of the most evocative openers in recent memory. However, the one two punch of this song and “They Aren’t All Beautiful” juxtaposes surprisingly seamlessly because of the latter’s death metal vibe. “They Aren’t All Beautiful” takes the listener even further down the rabbit hole with engaging guitar riffs, intense drumming and chilling growls. These two songs alone reveal the twisted vibe of the band's imaginative fantasy, whatever it may be. Aside from the cryptic story Bath
is trying to tell, the variety is revealed even more throughout the record.
From the overall soothing and childish mood of “Heaven and Weak” to the strangely absorbing atmosphere of “The Ferryman,” the whole album has no rhyme or reason to its flow. Ironically, the record flows absurdly well all things considered. With the exception of the unexpectedly heavy section at the end of “Heaven and Weak,” the childish and pleasant vibe of the song will bring out the kid in you by means of touching guitar work and Toby's immature voice. Aided by the ever so lovely “Interlude 1” cramped in between them, “The Ferryman” brings out everything insane in music. The organ chills to the bone and Toby’s evil growls only manage to heighten the dark atmosphere. Fittingly enough, the song closes out with the lengthy sound of someone, or something, taking a bath. One could even argue how this being is drowning because of the suffering sounds. The moans and snarls of this thing will certainly induce a slight cringe regardless of any interpretation.
The darker part of the record actually tapers off a bit in the second half with “Girl with a Watering Can” and “Birth Pains of Astral Projection.” The former exists as a song to just take it all in due to the elegant guitar work and the homage to the opening track. Directly succeeding it is “Birth Pains of Astral Projection.” Even though it features a lengthy section of harsh vocals, it somehow manages to deliver a graceful listen. It’s without a doubt a testament to the eccentricity of it all, with the alluring guitar work being juxtaposed with the hard hitting vocals similar to "They Aren't All Beautiful," but in a lighter fashion.
The listener will likely fail to find words to describe a first listen when this is over. Maudlin of the Well’s vision for this proves to be nothing short of complex and multi-dimensional. Not only is it atmospheric from beginning to end, but the many styles mixed in here makes it nearly impossible to pigeon hole. There’s progressive rock/metal, minimalism, jazz and death metal all scattered throughout, but it nonetheless persists with an overall seamless essence. Requiring multiple listens to legitimately grasp, Bath
will always go down as one of the most essential listens of this generation. This record alone is a masterpiece, but once it’s over, the overwhelming desire to jump right into the famed second half will skyrocket.