Date: 17th May 2017
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Experiencing atmospheric black metal recreated well live seems a rare occurrence. The mesmerizing melodies and sheer aggression blended together, giving birth to a musical experience taking you somewhere else shouldn’t be easy to accomplish. Yet, this is exactly what happened when American Ghost Bath took to the tiny club stage at the Black Heart in Camden together with The Ever Living.
On the day where I really should be celebrating my heritage (17th May AKA Norwegian constitution day), I instead find myself in the as usual sweaty upstairs of everyone’s favorite Camden bar. The night’s show was Ghost Bath’s second performance in London in two days, following a concert at the Sebright Arms the day before.
With a somewhat disappointing headcount of about 30 people in the audience, London’s own The Ever Living enter at 9:30pm. Wasting no time, the short haired 5-piece kick straight into their set. It’s a pleasure to hear such a balanced sound mix in a tiny, compact venue like the Black Heart, and the Londoners make good use of their allocated extra space, as the stage itself was simply not big enough.
Perhaps this additional space can be taken as a metaphorical statement on the music itself, as it sounds massive and truly engulfs the entirety of the room. Luckily enough the audience ranks do increase as their set progresses smoothly from one song to another. The Ever Living released their debut EP last year, and their short and sweet 30-minute set was nothing but the perfect warm-up for what was to come.
The individual musicians skillfully execute their role on stage, and I among seemingly most others were left satisfied as they finished up. Definitely a band to look out for in the London scene.
The decked-out merch stand isn’t the only thing impressive about tonight’s headliners. Depressive/atmospheric black metallers Ghost Bath (“the act of committing suicide by submerging in a body of water”) hailing from across the pond enter to a stage with amps decorated with roses and hangman’s nooses. Rather morbid imagery, but nonetheless fitting for the band who released their third studio effort Starmourner earlier this year.
As mentioned above, atmospheric black metal is certainly one of the harder styles of metal to successfully recreate live. A genre much reliant upon the creation of a certain feeling and, naturally, atmosphere, is often a hit or miss in a live setting. The Americans seem to have no problem with this though, and almost effortlessly speed through a 50-minute set packed with emotional rollercoasters.
The sound mixing at the Black Heart that night truly deserves praise, as a simple mistake would have arguably ruined the entire mood of the night. The band, rocking three guitars and one bass shift between melancholic breakdowns and pure feats of force as blast-beat drumming takes over the room. Every instrument is clearly distinguished in the mix, making the harmonic and melodic guitar parts easily audible and enjoyable.
Vocalist Dennis Mikula makes himself heard as he passionately screams on top of the colossal instrumentation. A moshpit even breaks out a few times towards the end of their set, undoubtedly a fitting expression of gratitude from certain members in the audience. Without expecting too much, I was truly blown away by both bands that night, and would highly recommend anyone checking them out. Melancholic magic paired with a furious black metal assault, with a deep, emotional appeal – need I say more?
The Ever Living
The Black Heart