LIVE: Ghost Bath / Deadwound @ The Sebright Arms, London

By Glen Bushell

Black metal is far different now to what it was some thirty years ago, leading to bands garnering as much hate as they do praise. Ghost Bath seem to be one of the most divisive bands in the current scope of metal, but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of people that have crammed into the tiny Sebright Arms to witness the bands debut London headline show. Whatever controversy or mystic surrounded the bands formative years as all but gone; with the world finally realising Ghost Bath are something very special.

Kingston-based blackened hardcore band, Deadwound, open up things up, and waste no time in showing their brute force. Vocalist Luke Kempton barely stays on the stage, opting to take the fight to the crowd with his harsh delivery. Deadwound unleash a flurry of classic metal riffs, dropping into colossal breaks for their entire set with very little respite. Even if it feels a little derivative at times, they are another example of the fertile underground metal scene in the UK.

As Ghost Bath arrive to a serene introduction, there is something different about the band from a year ago. Whereas before they would be cloaked or in matching attire, they have shed anything that was ever so slightly gimmicky and appear as five people playing metal. Conscious decision or not, Ghost Bath look focused on the matter at hand as they launch into ‘Thrones’; to deliver atmospheric black metal in its purest form.

The songs from their new album ‘Starmourner’ are brought to life when played live. They are raw, visceral bursts of caustic emotion. Their triple guitar setup is unrelenting, and gives way to glorious dual harmonies among the cacophony of ‘Seraphic’. But that’s as melodic as Ghost Bath get. The pained screams of primary songwriter, Nameless, cut through the hail of blast beats and tremelo picked riffs. They are more brutal than on record, yet hypnotic and inviting.

For all the mesmerising properties of Ghost Bath’s music, their writing has always been filled and sorrow. ‘Happyhouse’ is proof of that, and while ‘Ambrosial’ may be melodic by comparison, they want you to feel the same sadness and depression that has been poured into each track. They end with their magnum opus, ‘Golden Number’, a frenetic 10-minutes of unbridled aggression and triumphant guitars that brings this memorable show to a close.

Love or hate them, Ghost Bath are bringing something new to black metal, pulling it into yet another direction. As beautiful as they are disturbing, tonight proved they are the future of the genre, and showed what they can really do live.