The painting of a scene unusually colorful for a black metal artwork, a woman immersed in a water pond and the logo — quite decipherable — on top (“Ophelia” by the British painter John Everett Millais, 1852). Judging by the cover of Funeral you wouldn’t think of Ghost Bath as a Chinese band, since most of the black metal projects from there got us used to visual styles predominantly black and white, with an obvious fascination with the traditional styles of Chinese painting. (and in fact the band came out to be from North Dakota instead)
Not much is known about the lives of the four members of this emerging band, with an eponymous EP released in October 2013 already under their belt, and even in the photo on Bandcamp their faces are scrawled and unrecognizable. Their first LP Funeral came out in February 2014 and seems to be aiming high in the depressive black metal scene.
Each of the twelve track titles only feature a single word: from “Torment” to “Forever”, all the way through “Silence”, “Afterlife”, and so on. The philosophical mindset seems quite clear already from skimming over the tracklist; pain stimulates a tormented reflection about existence, leading us to wonder if and in which way there could be something after death. The soul is confused between moments of quiet and abrupt intervals of distressful clarity.
Musically speaking, Ghost Bath tread on depressive black and atmospheric post-metal territories with great awareness (especially for such a young band). The shrieks of pain are a recurring element of the world depicted by the quartet, with notable results (“Burial” or “Procession”). The band is comfortable with both brief instrumental interludes and longer tracks, there is a good variety in this sense throughout the album. It is not surprising that Pest Productions — always keeping an eye on any movements in the area of black metal Ghost Bath are related to — seized the opportunity to publish this work as a CD later this year.
In conclusion, I believe this is one of the first interesting releases of 2014 in a Chinese black metal scene that seemed to be stagnating a little, but this and other upcoming works signal a more lively year to come. This album is definitely recommended to all fans of this subgenre looking for new acts; the others might find it a bit long (slightly more than an hour), but variety is one of its strongpoints. (although the band is not Chinese, they actually got some visibility in the local underground through the work of their label)
[July 2014 update – Pest Production release]
In June, this album was finally released by Pest Productions keeping the original artwork, although with slighly less vivid colors. The booklet features the titles both in English and Chinese and all the lyrics. Naturally, no pictures or names of the band’s members are available. After a few months from the first time I have heard this album, I can confirm its value as one of the most interesting recent releases in the depressive black metal genre.