Written by Johnny Papan
THE VOCAL/BASSIST OF LOCAL HARDCORE ACTS LIKE DROWN IN ASHES AND PRESS ON STRIPS DOWN FOR A HEAVENLY YET HAUNTING EP
While frontman Jay Townsend may be known to screaming his lungs out in Vancouver hardcore groups like Drown in Ashes and Press On, his solo-effort GhOStS sees his voice shift from catastrophic to choral. Recorded, produced and mixed by Townsend himself during the COVID-19 pandemic, he cites his involvement with the Rain Coast Choir as an instigator in this stylistic change.
This five-track EP is washed in an almost hauntingly-heavenly flair. There’s a bright twang in each guitar strum and Townsend’s vocal layering turns himself into a one-man choir at key points.
This is especially apparent in the record’s opening track “Angel”. The chorus has an almost barbershop quartet harmony. A sedative audio vibrancy.
“Diamond Days” - the album’s third track - is the most uplifting in sound. It’s seemingly a reflection on his past life and the journey to who he’s become today. This, in a way, could possibly be the theme of the whole record. A coming to terms with the “ghosts” of your past, if you will.
Townsend’s “hardcore” voice makes their first and only guttural appearance in the album’s final track, “Save Me From Myself”. A poetic choice as the song seems to discuss Townsend’s internal battle with his own demons. The harsh vocals are mixed behind his softspoken, clean lyrics, almost like a showcase of what he is on the outside, to what he feels on the inside.
Overall, GhOStS is a unique offering that jostles between moments of uplift and internal descent. Riddled with subtext, you can feel the ghosts of Townsend’s past seep through his lyricism. Words from a changing man who still has demons he hopes to one day lay to rest.