Ghost Bath
Self-Loather

With helpful ghost bathing tips in mind, here is Ghost Bath with their fourth overall full length, Self Loather. I’ve never quite understood the hate these guys seem to get. While I never fell in love with them, I do own their last two albums and enjoyed them despite some minor quibbles. Luckily, they decided to take care of one of them by adding some vocals this time! By that, I mean you can hear them. Well, sort of.

On the opener, “Convince Me to Bleed,” all I said to them was; “You guys should bleed.” They did and I am disappointed with their lack of resistance to peer pressure. It doesn’t take long to notice the difference between this and previous offerings. From the beginning, it’s a lot more of a post rock vibe, but the pervasive tremolo picking and blast beats make it clear this is still black metal. This by no means any unexpected detour, but it certainly feels more immediate.

Choral vocals open the next track, “Hide From the Sun,” which is something my pasty whiteness will take little persuasion to prove to you I do well. There’s a somewhat clean picked guitar with screams of torment before the black metal kicks in. The vocals here sound more feral than on the first track and are fairly distinguishable once again. They’re also a bit deeper. Also, what’s this? A Chorus? Nice.

While a lot of the tracks do tend to run together here, that’s to be expected when a band has found and sits comfortably in their own sound. That’s not a positive or negative. Just a fact.

One of the heavier moments on the album comes on track 4, which is called “Sanguine Mask.” While, yes it fits squarely into what was mentioned just above, the down picked riff, when listening to their first time may give you that “stank face.” If you listen to metal at all (and I assume you do), you know what I mean. Just imagine the Jens Kidman meme. Except maybe less cartoonish.

Moving along through the tracklist, “I Hope Death Finds Me Well,” is just an interlude, for lack of a better term. It’s all piano, but it leads well into “For It Is a Veil.” The vocals in parts have more of a death metal roar, but there’s still those DSBM cries in the background. Those vocals, like their previous work, are buried in the mix. The lead work near the end has a bit of a moody, almost Mastodon vibe.

The very last track on the album, which is also the shortest, “Flickering Wicks of Black,” is a fitting way to end. It’s as straightforward an assault as you’ll find on the album, with some solid lead guitar passages and a subdued segue to the end of the album.

At barely under 50 minutes, this is a much shorter affair than their previous album, and all the better for it. Previous offerings had the tendency to be enjoyable but drag on a little. The same qualm is not present here. With that being said, if you’re not at all into Ghost Bath, this is not going to change your mind in the slightest. However, as opposed to it being a complete re-imagining of their sound, think of it as them getting a bit of a tune up. They play to what they do well and do it better than ever before. This might be their finest hour. So far, I my view, it is.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
November 10th, 2021

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