I might have made an album as good as GHOST BATH’S STARMOURNER if my parents were supportive of my music

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With their third full-length, Ghost Bath accomplished a deep, multi-layered, solid contender for many a metal blogger’s Best Album of 2017 list. Still, my mom and dad will be the first to tell you that something even as good or popular as it won’t sell enough copies to make an honest, stable living; let alone raise a family.

Starmourner opens with the deceptively sweet piano melody of “Astral,” and straight from there, we’re torn from that false sense of security (you know, the kind that a career with benefits and stable salary-based income provides) and we’re thrown right into familiar mayhem-ic Ghost Bath territory with “Seraphic.” The guitar leads of this track, as well as those on “Celestial,” are just a tad gaudier than the band’s previous fare, almost reminiscent of an F-Zero or Star Fox level. I would know… You tend to play a lot of video games when you’re consistently reminded that the ambitions that matter most to you at your very core as an individual have no hope of ever panning out.

The honor of my personal favorite song from the album goes to “Ambrosial,” a track that was previously released by Nuclear Blast to tease Starmourner’s release. It, and certainly its follow-up track “Ethereal,” prominently feature beachy, surf-rock riffs, played in a style that immediately brings to mind a different album by a fellow post-blackened band all about One who Bathes in the Sun. I really don’t want to bring those guys into this, though. They talk about making a living from their music in their interviews and I just think that’s a bit more than I’m able to handle right now…

With Ghost Bath’s brand of uplifting melodies in the context of black metal despair, Starmourner successfully delivers a perfect, continuous contrast of soaring highs and punishing lows. I remember once I was punished for saving and spending my grocery store paychecks on a $600 Schecter guitar when I was still living at home. My father scolded me vehemently, insisting that if I was living on my own, I would never be able to afford a “toy” that expensive if I had my own bills to worry about. I still think about that sometimes on my lower days. I spend a lot of time getting high to try not to feel that moment anymore.

Ghost Bath’s unnamed drummer keeps a steady, pounding rhythm with the modest amount of flash and technicality you’d expect from a post black metal outfit. With that said, I wouldn’t consider it anywhere near too simplistic, nor overly-reliant on your typical ever-droning atmospheric blast beats. How the drums in Ghost Bath productions often overpower the rest of the mix with echoing shotgun-blast rim shots, smacks of something a bit more from a hardcore persuasion than anything experienced elsewhere in the DSBM genre. I was interested in drums too for a while; I wanted to be in high demand among rock musicians in my area and join a band as soon as possible. You see, when I was young, I wasn’t very popular. I thought being a drummer was my ticket to friends in the local scene. I bought a practice pad and a pair of sticks before I could afford to get the real thing as a teenager. My dad walked in on me practicing and asked me if I felt like a rock star yet… laughing at me tapping away at my pad. When I finally got a cheap Ludwig kit and started taking lessons, my mother would scream “enough already!” ten minutes or less into my practicing. I’m still not very popular.

Although we can argue Starmourner doesn’t quite have the initial impact that Moonlover certainly had on the metal scene, Starmourner offers us a glimpse at a slightly more sophisticated and grown-up Ghost Bath than on previous releases. When my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her I wanted to play music and entertain others. She immediately rephrased her question to ask what I was going to do so I could buy groceries for her grandkids.

I know I could have written Starmourner. I have filled lakes with my frozen space tears.

With Moonlover, Ghost Bath, much like their Black Gaze counterparts Alcest and Deafheaven had foregone black metal’s typical staples of overly saturated and compressed ‘buzzsaw’ guitar distortion for a cleaner, warmer, more rock-centric ‘overdriven’ guitar tone. That classic sort of British crunch was then, of course, colored with an array of reverb, delay and chorus effects to give it the ambient, spacey vibe that shoegaze and atmospheric guitar players are known for. With three different men on guitar, the layering of tone and effects greater added to the breadth of Ghost Bath’s room-filling wall of sound. Apart from perhaps some higher gain leads, Starmourner more or less seems to follow in Moonlover’s footsteps with this guitar tone philosophy, whereas if I ever were to follow in my father’s footsteps, I’d fucking hang myself.

Starmourner’s calmer interludes are reverberating, ambient, haunting melodies reminiscent of those heard on their former release. Haunting, much like the memories of my realist father’s disdain towards my creative ambitions and alternative style of clothing. I once borrowed a book called Guitar for Dummies from the library so I could learn the kind of catchy major chords and scales you’re going to enjoy throughout Starmourner. My dad said everybody who wanted to play guitar should own that book based on the title. One Christmas I asked for a new practice amp because the 90’s Peavey Bandit I bought second hand had electrical problems and kept zapping me while I was playing. Instead, Santa brought me about a practice amp’s price worth of shaving cream, razors, body wash, socks, underwear, gift cards to Dunkin Donuts and brightly colored polo shirts for the job interviews I should have been going to instead of “a buncha shit you don’t need”. I even got a barber kit so I could take the hint and cut my long hair… Considering Nameless’ competent playing, it sounds very much like he spent most of his time practicing on an amp that didn’t regularly electrocute him for trying.

MFW trying to jam on my Peavey. Sometimes I wish 80 watts was enough to stop a heart.

The bass on this album – and this is a stretch to say—might be its only flaw, and not at all because it’s poorly played. Ghost Bath’s bassist proves more than competent as any musician on their roster and deserves his props for that.  The bass lines are just not as clearly booming and audible in the mix on certain tracks as I maybe would have liked, especially considering the hardcore drum sound. Being a bass player myself, we can probably chalk this one up to personal preference. Just the slightest bit of extra grit and girth would have made Starmourner sound that much more huge. What definitely was audible, however was when my alcoholic stepfather screamed “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!” at 4:00 in the morning at the top of his cigarette-tinged lungs when he saw I had discretely recycled a box for a new Acoustic B200 bass combo. My mother tried to soothe and shush him, always terrified of him and his often verbally – sometimes physically – abusive nature and how my brothers and I as grown 20-somethings and older teens were not as willing to put up with his shit and went toe-to-toe with him on more than one occasion. I will easily forgive the spotty bass guitar prominence in Starmourner’s mix, but shall remain ever resentful towards our mother for bringing someone so objectively scumbaggy into our home and family; tearing apart whatever small relationship we had left after a needlessly ugly divorce with our father, years of overbearing, confidence-damaging, cynical world-view parenting and constantly vilifying our father to us in a transparent attempt at deflecting all of the valid criticisms we had towards the rotten stain on all of humanity that was our white trash idiot stepfather. He wouldn’t even understand what makes an album like Starmourner great, the beer swilling, toad-faced fucking loser.

In my 20’s one day after garage band practice, I drank half a bottle of Jameson, buzzed a mohawk in my head with the old Christmas barber kit, got in a fist fight with my stepdad, got kicked out of my house and slept in my van for a couple weeks without even getting to say I went on tour. But hey, I guess that’s at least half the dream, right? You’re gonna have a much better night listening to Starmourner than I had that night. Although do expect similar amounts of harsh screaming, despair, and some rather unexpected uplifting moments that don’t feel like they belong anywhere near all the melancholy and hopelessness.

What I’m trying to say is Ghost Bath’s latest musical endeavor is sort of like how good it feels punching your stepdad while living in the reality that you have a stepdad who needs punching.

GHOST BATH – STARMOURNER

Five out of Five Punched Stepdads 👊👊👊👊👊

You can pick up Starmourner right now via Nuclear Blast. Order it here! You can also check out the Toilet ov Hell Radio interview here and be sure to stop by Facebook to tell the guys that this album empowered you to beat up your stepdad.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • I really, really like this album.

    • even after The Internet told you not to?

      • Shakes 999

        ESPECIALLY after the internet told me not to.

        • The internet told to me to NOT listen merol.

          And here I am in a stupid blog about merol.

          • Dagon

            This sounds like a Fall Out Boy song title

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Yeah, but their shirts.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Tell your parents thank you for being right.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      I LIKED THIS BETTER WHEN IT WAS BY DEAFHEAVEN

  • AndySynn

    “Starmourner is great…”

    …IS it though?

  • The music is good (shoegaze fan here) but those caterwauling shrieky vocals? Jeeeeeesus fucking Christ. 🙁

    • Jacks Smirking Revenge

      Waaaaaaaaaaahhhuhhhhhhh, wwwwwwrrraaaaaahhhhuuuhhhhhhhh, wwwaaaaaawwaaaaauhhhhhhhuhhhhhhh

  • Howard Dean

    “… and brightly colored polo shirts for the job interviews I should have been going to instead of ‘a buncha shit you don’t need'”

    Who the fuck wears a polo shirt to a job interview?

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      EVERYONE WHO EVER WENT TO COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON?

      • Howard Dean

        Even the bro-est of Chads from the south know you at least toss on a button down when you interview.

        The types of jobs where it’s acceptable to wear a polo shirt to the interview usually don’t require interviews–they generally require a strong back and potential for accidental death and dismemberment.

        • Count_Breznak

          Professional tennis is hardcore.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          The polo shirt has wide-ranging interview applications! You can use it to interview for everything from Walmart employee to Target employee!

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      I wear a suit to interviews.

    • Óðinn

      Who the fuck wears a polo shirt?

      • CyberneticOrganism

        It is impossible to wear a polo shirt and not have disgusting protruding man-nips

        • Óðinn

          Yeah, that’s true.

        • Dagon

          Disgusting or… inviting?

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Whatever you’re into, fish god.

    • working in IT for 10 years makes this question go away

  • Sid Vicious Promos

    Is this a Clickhole style review? I love Clickhole so this is a great thing that the blog has acknowledged their writing style.

    • Howard Dean
      • Sid Vicious Promos

        I love Clickhole.

      • more beer

        She sounds like she should have been the prom queen.

    • Stockhausen

      This is definitely the first time the blog has acknowledged Clickhole’s writing style.

      • Sid Vicious Promos

        I’m amazed they haven’t before.

        • Wet W’s Whistle

          It boggles the mind that none of the Clickhole-style articles we’ve published before have ever acknowledged Clickhole’s writing style.

          • Top 10 Times Sid Vicious Promos Glorified Blog Violence (Number 666 Will Blow Your Perineum)

        • Stockhausen

          My palm is literally fused to my face right now.

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I never said I was serious.

          • Maik Beninton™

            How are we suppose to know?

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            You aren’t.

    • Jacks Smirking Revenge

      Check the masterlord’s articles and you will find clickhole candy in some of them.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Love the article. Love the production. Kinda bored by the music. I do feel empowered to beat up a stepdad, though; I don’t have one, but I’ll find one and sock him right in the kisser.

    • Wet W’s Whistle

      He’ll just tell you to shut up and eat your feelings, as usual.

      • Guacamole Jim

        Man, I already hate this hypothetical stepdad.

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      I don’t have a stepdad either but I’d beat up a stepdad who doesn’t support their kid’s creativity.

      • Guacamole Jim

        I’d beat up the kids for not listening to their stepdad, who only cares about their wellbeing and ability to get a job later in life in such a volatile market.

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          You do have a point.

          • Guacamole Jim

            Now maybe you’ll go apologise to your stepdad and do your homework tonight, hmmmm?

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I don’t have a stepdad and I haven’t had homework since I left college in 2014. I’ll apologize to my parents though.

          • Guacamole Jim
          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I’ll have to wait until they get home though. They also want me to find someone so they can have grandchildren although I never want to have kids.

          • Guacamole Jim

            Sounds like a conundrum. Have you ever considered leaving them and getting a new stepdad?

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I wouldn’t leave them because although they are difficult I do love them.

          • Hans Copronym

            That’s how they get ya: giving birth to you and being all nurturing and stuff. Age-old scheme but people can’t help falling for it.

          • Guacamole Jim
          • Wet W’s Whistle

            Or maybe the foster system.

          • Vault Dweller

            Me either. Fuck kids. They’re overrated.

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Vault Dwellar plz!

        • Shakes 999

          Both my dad’s always fight. Especially when one doesn’t have the others dinner ready when he gets home.

  • Howard Dean

    I wish there were video footage of your stepdad kicking your ass. That would be righteous. I’m imagining it went like this (or at least I hope it did):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uii-wMha6mE

  • Hans Copronym

    Ah, all these crazy posty gazey kids, what [celestial body][verb]-er will they come up with next? *smiles fondly at them like a good – if still belittling – dad*

    • Hans Copronym

      “How about Asteroidbummer?”
      – “Get out of the GARAGE, dad, we’re trying to PRACTICE”

    • Mars Rover

  • HessianHunter

    Ok but how do you feel about the fucking windchimes on the last track

    • Fucking windchimes, man…

    • Same as when your mom divorces your POS stepdad but acts really upset over it: happy anyways.

    • Hans Copronym

      I sense the birth of something meme-ish with this here windchime outrage.

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      For one reason or the other, I’m (constantly) imagining Joe Duplantier doing Flying Whales, but instead of whales he shouts WIIIINDDCHAAAIM.

    • CyberneticOrganism
      • Howard Dean

        Always Upvote Anal Cunt and Seth Putnam. Also, perfect application of this very niche A.C. track.

  • Well, I am not feeling that much the embedded song. Maybe I will try the full album, but the melody on the song is very reminiscent of Golden Number and I don’t know if I should listen to it or Moonlover.

  • Depechemodeisgangsta

    Those screams remind me of Silencer, in a creepy way, like is supposed to be.

  • Slaves BC

    I am…. just amazed.
    This is the best album review I have ever read.
    Thank you.

    • Then I did my job. You’re welcome!

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Wait? Who did you think did your job then?
        Was it me? Dammit, I always fall for that.

    • Stockhausen

      Slaves BC! My band (Dischordia) played with you guys at a shady warehouse place in Pittsburgh many a year ago. There were roughly 2 and a half people there.

      • Slaves BC

        Ha, I remember that!
        If you played a show with us in Pittsburgh now, there would probably still be 2 and half people there

    • Howard Dean

      Can’t tell if avatar is chick suiciding or blowing dong.

      • Slaves BC

        Neither can I, and I drew it.
        Obviously both?
        But no, for real, she’s suiciding

        • Howard Dean
          • Slaves BC

            Also a girl with a gun in her mouth. Too bad I didn’t know about that album art in 2010 when I drew this after my roommate shot herself. I would have asked her to pose differently before she did it

          • Howard Dean

            3dark5me.jpg

            Did you make necklaces out of the skull fragments a la trve Norwegian black metal?

          • Slaves BC

            Nah, we ain’t that trve

  • Waynecro

    Excellent review, Brenocide! I like Ghost Bath, and I saw the band play live the other night. The band was really great, but I’ve never seen so many sad hipsters in one place. Ghost Bath went on after Astronoid, which plays some of the happiest tunes I’ve ever heard, so the show was just as bipolar as most of the attendees.

    • Thanks duder

      • Waynecro

        Thank you, duder, for the out-loud laughs.

      • Wet W’s Whistle

        I definitely laughed while reading the draft.

        • Guacamole Jim

          On a raft with William Taft

    • This comment was as funny as the review, jajaja.

  • Grvm Spectre ov Derth

    Maybe if you were from Japan none of this would have happened. Did I say Japan? I meant South Dakota.

    • Maybe if you were from Korea none this would happened. Did I say Vietnam? I meant Laos.

      • Grvm Spectre ov Derth

        Or Myanmar

    • Maik Beninton™

      Did you say South Dakota? You meant China.

      • Grvm Spectre ov Derth

        Or maybe Nepal?

  • Óðinn

    Hmm. I don’t have anything against this band in general, although I’m not that big a fan of the vocals on much of their songs. Seems like they’ve buried the vocals a bit on the mix with the embedded song. I actually thing this is a good thing.

  • RMK

    I don’t comment much here but I just wanted to say that this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever read on this site

    • That means a lot man thanks I do it for the kids

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Fuck that noise about not buying a guitar if you want a guitar. Guaranteed every step dad that ever lived blew a huge chunk of money on a similar purchase for little else than their own amusement.

  • Dagon

    I wish I had written this. Great job. But how are you going to support my grandkid’s with this metal blogging bullshit?

  • R.M.T.

    Great joke, guys. Really had me going there for a sec.

  • Best. Review. Ever.