Perhaps one of the most divisive black metal bands in the current era of extreme metal, Ghost Bath is a band that is not entirely for everyone due to the soundscapes, vocal deliveries and their philosophical lyrical themes in which is turned off by many people. But however, Ghost Bath to me I’ve been a fan of these guys since the release of Moonlover which was an absolute essential and a modern day classic for the genre. Now years go by we have the latest offering in the band’s catalog with Self Loather, which is the first album since 2017’s Starmourner and is released through Nuclear Blast Records and Northern Silence Productions. Musically, Ghost Bath plays a very depressive, melancholic, atmospheric and post style of black metal in which this case their themes and lyrical content is perhaps one of the biggest selling points in my personal opinion. Now, I won’t go further into context about this release in particular but however I will say that this is miles better than Starmourner which to me it felt little bit forced and unbalanced at times but with Self Loather, they’ve incorporated and expanded many magical and musical wonders to keep their sound, their tempo and flow very effectively and progressively.
From the amazing compositional work, to the gorgeous soundscapes of the luxurious instrumental sections, the members from Ghost Bath were wanting to create something little different than past releases and needlessly to say, they’ve perfected and executed so magnificently as I truly feel this will continuously be a huge grower for myself. Musically, the instrumentals and craftsmanship is truly astonishing as the songs naturally progressed in such due time you get emotion, ambition, and all around incredible passages and layers of musical brilliancy. From it’s flourished melodies, sporadic blast beats, heartfelt and calming vocals, this album features it’s raw, primal and extremely well driven songwriting that’s comprehensible and yet, wonderfully captivating.
Songwriting here as aforementioned captures different lyrical content to maintain that aggressive, slow, and atmospheric structures which therefore keeps the tempos, arrangements and production very fluent but also doesn’t stray away the admiration from the musicianship is beautiful, artistic and outstanding. When you hear songs such as Hide from the Sun, Sanguine Mask, I Hope Death Finds Me Well and Flickering Wicks of Black not only demonstrated a steady foundation where the instrumentals are properly placed in the corrected order while the vocals from Dennis Mikula serves as an emotional unifier, but the rest of the band have done a fantastic job keeping their boundaries, talented skill and proficiency be on point without losing touch and sight. There’s even songs demonstrating a half boats off-the-cuff structures and more aggressive instrumentation while the second half is much slower paced and based more on subdued atmospheric layouts but also keeping the heaviness afloat to the best of its ability. Self Loather not only introduces the band’s more extreme roots, but they’ve found their branch and sound to keep the album dynamic and naturalistic but ultimately rewarding.
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Review by Jake Butler