Prior to the release of Moonlover, Ghost Bath were paraded as ‘China’s answer to Deafheaven’, however this is now something that has proved to be very wrong. Musically, it must be said that Ghost Bath are very similar to Deafheaven; both bands incorporate a mixture of atmospheric black metal with the dreaminess of shoegaze, albeit with Ghost Bath having a slight depressive black metal edge to their sound rather than Deafheaven’s screamo. However, even with this Ghost Bath are not China’s answer to Deafheaven as simply put, they are from North Dakota. The controversy surrounding this has stemmed from the fact that supposedly being from China has played such a big part in Ghost Bath’s rise in the scene. Ultimately of course, it is the music that should be judged here
The album opens with a short melancholic intro before the early highlight The Golden Number shows off Ghost Bath’s impressive use of atmosphere and noisey shoegaze. It would be easy to make comparisons to bands such as Woods of Desolation due to the depressive sound that compliments the shoegaze inflicted black metal, however Ghost Bath’s sound comes with a sense of triumph, as if there is light to be found in the darkness. The seemingly ironically titled Happyhouse brings some more delightful melancholy to the mix, but unfortunately does not come close to the intensity of The Golden Number with its use of slower tempos that causes some slight problems, however even with this it is by no means a bad track. After two post-rock tracks that almost serve as interludes there are two more black metal tracks, The Silver Flower, Part II and Death and the Maiden. Both of these continue to show off Ghost Bath’s impressive and uplifting lead work and a wonderful sense of melody however neither can come as close to the perfection of The Golden Number. A slight complaint would have to be the fact that the post-rock interludes in between the black metal tracks continues the album’s poor pacing. While both of these pieces are lovely all the same, both last for just over four minutes while seemingly not going anywhere; they could both be cut down to two minutes with no problems. However, they do serve as pretty background music.
While Moonlover does not seem to reach the heights of albums such as Sunbather and Torn Beyond Reason due to some pacing issues and tracks that seem to meander, Ghost Bath have shown some incredible potential that they can hopefully work on for their next release. The uplifting lead work that gives incredible atmosphere along with the tortured vocals and interesting drum work offer a great base level for the band to work from. For now, Ghost Bath are not quite yet at the top of black metal’s podium, but they’re certainly getting there.