Ghost Bath fans have been holding their breath waiting for Self Loather, out now via Nuclear Blast. The album brings more depressive, suicidal, self-loathing post-black metal, but with a few new twists.
“The biggest difference on this record is that the entire band contributed to it. I wasn’t the only one writing all the music,” says frontman Dennis Mikula. “Previously, I’ve never had lyrics in any Ghost Bath tracks, and now I wrote some lyrics; I did a mid-low vocal part and pitched that down. It turned out a little more heavy, a bit like traditional black metal, even though I still wouldn’t call it a traditional black metal record. I think it still sounds like Ghost Bath, though, and with everyone else’s contributions, it’s definitely something different than I could have written on my own.”
Previously more of a solo project, and initially meant to be anonymous, a stance that landed the band in some controversy when they failed to correct reports of hailing from China, the band are now morphing into a slightly different entity, one that is more of a collaborative project and a forward-facing effort. And although the initial title planned for this release changed, it still represents the final installment in a trilogy.
“Initially, I just wanted to be a suicidal, one-man black metal project, but then things took off and gained more traction,” Mikula says.
“Since we did Moonlover, this one was going to be Sunloather, but I changed it to Self Loather because I think it ended up fitting with the themes of the record better,” he continues. “Obviously, it’s about self-hate and isolation, and it was always supposed to be the heaviest album, so I kind of went with it. The themes on this one are definitely more dread and hatred. I thought, ‘OK, what do I hate more than the sun,’ and it would be myself, so that’s where the title comes from.”
Now that the trilogy is officially wrapped up, however, don’t think for a second that Ghost Bath are getting ready to call it quits.
“It was cool making a trilogy because you have everything planned out and know what direction you want to take each record,” Mikula says. “But now, it’s like everything has sort of opened up, because we’re done with the trilogy, and now we can go in so many different directions. Right now, we’re kind of just throwing ideas out there, but we’re going to start working on something pretty soon.”
This is all a pretty impressive trajectory, given that Ghost Bath were originally meant to be an anonymous side project for Mikula.
“I quit my last band and went back to school, and I just started to do Ghost Bath on the side, for fun, but then it took off,” he says of the brief flirtation the group had with anonymity. “When it started gaining traction, I realized the anonymous thing wasn’t going to work out because I didn’t want to hide myself. I wanted to play shows and talk to people at the merch stand, so we got rid of that early on.”
No longer hiding in the shadows and now fully in the light (but not too much light—he still loathes the sun, after all), Mikula and the band are pushing through into new, uncharted territory.
Watch the video for “Convince Me to Bleed” here:
Photo courtesy of Ghost Bath and Austin Scherzberg