Most people who are familiar with post-black metal outfit Ghost Bath likely know of them for one of two reasons: either it’s because they (allegedly) pretended to be from China in order to get a record deal, or it’s because their last record Moonlover sounded so much like Deafheaven’s Sunbather that Kerry McCoy complained in an interview with Pitchfork that “They stole everything about their whole shit from us.”
I actually liked Moonlover just fine, largely because I really like Deafheaven, but I went into Ghost Bath’s forthcoming sophomore record Starmourner with the hope that they would have moved beyond their most obvious influence and started to find a sound of their own. And credit where it’s due – the record doesn’t sound all that much like Deafheaven. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound particularly good, either. I was actually kind of looking forward to this record, so it kind of pains me to say this – Starmourner is fucking awful.
Things start promisingly enough with the soft piano intro “Astral,” but then they go awry about 10 seconds into second track ‘Seraphic,” which is build around a guitar lick that sounds like it was lifted directly from Dream Theater’s recent cheese-fest prog opera The Astonishing, and it doesn’t get any better from there. Most of the ensuing tracks are virtually indistinguishable from each other, and they’re all way too fucking long. There are the occasional cool riffs, like the one at about the 1:20 mark on “Celestial,” but it’s surrounded by so much chaff that it’s not worth the effort it takes to get through the first 80 seconds of the song in order to hear it, and then it only repeats once more over the remaining seven, mostly boring minutes of the track.
The 72 minutes I spent listening to Starmourner is 72 minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back, and once I file this review I will likely never revisit the album again. I suffered through this album so that none of you will have to. Give this one a pass.
Starmourner will be available on April 21 via Nuclear Blast.
Clayton T. Michaels (Senior Editor) is a mild-mannered college English teacher by day, and a craft beer drinking, black metal and grindcore loving misanthrope by night. He’s also an award-winning poet and rabid Red Sox fan. Send him your promos at [email protected] You can also find him posting pictures of black metal cassettes and beer can labels on Instagram as @ironhops.