I had believed that my interest in metal had waned so much in recent years that I found it unlikely that I would find another metal band that would garner any interest from me. Yet, here I am positively intrigued by the music on Ghost Bath’s Moonlover. Apparently after trolling the metal press over their supposed Chinese origins for several years, Ghost Bath revealed their true home as North Dakota. Moonlover is the group’s second full-length release and indeed a worthy listen for fans of atmospheric and depressive black metal.
The reverb-ed finger-picking on electric guitar and atmosphere of The Sleeping Fields acts as a short introduction that sets the mood for Moonlover. However, it is the second track of Golden Number that defines the sound of this release. Wailing, agonized screams and instrumentation in a post-black metal style set root here. Yet, the vocal anguish contrasts sharply with the almost upbeat, sweeping melodies laid out by the electric guitar. Instrumentally, variety is quite noted in this piece, which ends with mellow piano over the last third of the song. Happyhouse is anything but happy. Agonized screams in conjunction with slow somber guitar lend themselves to a feeling of isolation. Again, the positive, almost post-hardcore punk guitar melodies contrast with otherwise depressive black metal. My generally limited knowledge of black metal and its variants forces me to describe Ghost Bath’s sound as a mix of Heretoir’s depressive black metal, yet with the uplifting and epic melodies of Alcest.
The middle portion of Moonlover takes a more instrumental and atmospheric route. The Silver Flower, pt. 1 has the sounds of birds chirping and the rustling of wildlife as would be expected in a forest around sunset. This peaceful ambience does not last long as thick guitars and agonized screams break down the earlier peaceful serenity in The Silver Flower, pt. 2. Finally, the album closes out with Death and the Maiden, reinforcing Ghost Bath’s mix of black metal, hardcore, and punk. This song has a slight melodic death metal feel, but mixed with punky drums and blast beats, until “whistling” synthesizers fade the album to a close.
Ghost Bath’s Moonlover is indeed an enjoyable listening experience. Those knowledgeable of atmospheric black metal and the like should not be surprised by the style found on this album. Moonlover does not offer anything all that new, yet in many ways it does not feel like a black metal album. The mood and atmosphere is there, yet many of the melodies are more characteristic of other genres. As such, Moonlover provides for a fresher than most, and not as constrained, sound for depressive black metal.
Genre: Depressive Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Northern Silence
Release: April 10, 2015
1. The Sleeping Fields
2. Golden Number
4. Beneath the Shade Tree
5. The Silver Flower Pt. 1
6. The Silver Flower Pt. 2
7. Death and the Maiden