If you’re a fan of death, black or other forms of extreme sub-genres of metal, you most probably encountered a situation where someone referred to it as “just noise”. That usually doesn’t bother me at all, and I wouldn’t even think of it as someonething worth mentioning, if the album I recently reviewed would have defied this steroptype so well.
The record in question is Ghost Bath‘s starmourner, which is coming out on the 21st of April this year. For anyone who’s not familiar with the band’s musical endeavors: they are a depressive suicidal black metal outfit, who wishes to remain nameless. Starmourner is their second full length album as of this year.
The best word to describe the album would probably be chrysalismic. Chrysalism is the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. And as chrysalism, this album gives you a sensation of an astounding rawness raging outside while, at its core, remaining calm and beautiful. The eerie lead melodies grace the twisting dark canvas of the songs on this album.
To illustrate this I chose the song “Ethereal” – the name alone underlines the point I mentioned earlier on. A pretty dry sounding lead guitar introduces the song with a fairly happy-sounding melody, which is quite uncommon for the genre. The background seems rather busy, with a fuzzy guitar and bass filling it out completely, while the drum seeks to push the atmosphere forward. Sadly, the drums sometimes sound too sharp and compressed for the lo-fi ambience of the track. As the guitar gains more distortion and syncopates with the lead guitar, it evens out a bit. The vocals, which kick in shortly after the rhythm guitar falls back into playing tremolo picked chords, sound deeper compared to previous records. They feel more natural and even fit the song quite well, though lacking in actual lyrics. The song drowns out with a beautiful slow string piece played by eerie sounding cellos, it seems.
Though the songs Starmourner has to offer are not bad as individuals, they get quite repetitive in the context of an album. The cohesiveness of the songs is lacking and the instrumentals are quite the same in nearly every track. You will find the same structure I described earlier, with minor changes in every song. Furthermore, I’m usually not bothered by pure instrumentals, but if vocals are present they should be used. The lack of actual lyrics becomes rather irritating after a few songs, and you might start to thinking whether the band would been better off not using them at all.
At the end, I have to say that Starmourner is kind of a mixed bag for me. While some songs really have beautiful instrumentations, and especially the eerie, ethereal sounding orchestral parts are truly beautiful, the actual songwriting just lacks substance in some points. It is a solid album if you already like Ghost Bath. Solid but boring, sadly. I was pretty stoked to review this record, as I liked the last album and found the first song they released, “Thrones”, to be somewhat nice. But in the end, I probably won’t come back to the record as a whole.
Score: 5.5 /10
Notable Tracks: “Ethereal”, “Ambrosial”
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