We recently did an interview with Ghost Bath, so it could
only make perfect sense to follow up with some thoughts regarding the album.
All of us here at Malicious Intent were pretty eager to hear this album in its
full context, and these are my thoughts towards that end. 

It is not often that a band as divisive as Ghost Bath comes around. Sure, you
could argue that their genre-brethren, Deafheaven, are of the same ilk –
challenging conceptions of metal imagery and genre casts altogether. In both
cases, we look at bands who incorporate driven, post-rock rhythms into black
metal soundscapes that fulfill their roles more typically with tortured
shrieking and meandering, depressive melodies. In both cases, still, we have
bands that will undoubtedly piss off the genre-faithful, but invigorate those
who are more interested in the quality of the product, and not necessarily the
“trve”-ness of its sound. My personal argument is that Ghost Bath’s Moonlover is
the dark, loathesome sibling of Deafheaven’s Sunbather (seriously,
the titles) and that each have a place in changing how metal fans interpret the
next (d)evolution of its most grim, sorrowful and gritty genre: black
Ghost Bath, rumored for some time to hail from China, have
recently come forth and confirmed their location as Minot, North Dakota. In
that confirmation, they carry a personal mantra forward: that they are so
hateful of themselves and their personal existence that they chose to disguise
their location, names and likenesses. We still don’t know much about who they
are, but this is a group who have fully bought into their own image. Whether or
not that’s a good thing is to be debated. The more crucial point, here, is that
the music they write is actually good. It’s not traditional black metal, no,
but this might be exactly what Deafheaven’s Sunbather wasn’t:
palatable and interesting. I’m not here to say that Deafheaven wrote a bad
album at all. I enjoyed Sunbather, but I think that Moonlover offers
a better product, and a final confirmation of blackgaze as metal’s next big
thing. To some, this will be for the absolute worst, but this kind of genre
combination is not unprecedented. Bands like Agalloch, Alcest and Woods of
Desolation have either toyed with or incorporated these ideas long before Ghost
Bath ever conceived the thought of it. The difference? The floodgates finally
seem to be open. The band have done the formula so well on this release that
multitudes of copycats are sure to follow. 
As for the album itself, Moonlover achieves a sort
of mystic completion by doing exactly what you expect, and turning that
expectation over on its head. Melancholy is manifest here in both minor and
major keys. Some motifs are of unexpected happiness, while others feast on
abject sadness and the infinitude of deep atmospheric chord progressions. What
surprised me foremost was how focused the instrumental sections were. With
thoughtful composition, no second feels wasted, and the music itself survives
despite lacking the highly characteristic shrieks that otherwise fill sonic
voids. We are treated to a sense for songwriting, decent production and a
product that knows exactly what it was meant to achieve. I know the reasons for
which this album will receive flack. I have read countless arguments both for
and against what this band is doing. That being said, I count myself amongst
those who are intrigued, in addition to those who found the album to be wholly
enjoyable. Is it completely original? Not really, but the execution is so
tasteful that even those who hate the direction this takes seem to recognize
just how complete the vision on Moonlover really is; and finally, no
remark can be made without sheer appreciation for the album artwork alone,
which may be the most captivating image this genre has yet produce. If that
doesn’t catch your eye, I surely don’t know what will. 
Be it that this album finally defines the presence of
blackgaze and its combination with atmospheric black metal as a complete and
driving genre-shift, I cannot say that I disliked it one bit. Ghost Bath are
rumored to have already completed over 10 tracks for another album which boasts
a length double that of Moonlover. I also have my theories that these guys
are, to the contrary, just one individual as opposed to the claimed four. We’ll
see what more there is to learn about Ghost Bath in the coming months, but for
now, I’ll go back to listening to an AOTY contender.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5   

Recommended Tracks: All of it. This album is best as a whole.  

If you want to hear more from Ghost Bath, please check out the Malicious Intent
metal show hosted by myself every Saturday night from 10 p.m. – 12 p.m. Tune in
at KJHK 90.7 FM or listen online at www.kjhk.org!