It seems as though my humble home of Canada is quickly becoming a hotbed for hype in the world of independent music. From the explosive success of Death From Above 1979 and the Arcade Fire to Sub Pop’s recent signing of Constantines, Chad VanGaalen and Wolf Parade, it seems the rest of the world has finally caught on to the fact that Canada has more to offer than hockey players and Degrassi High. With numerous government grants encouraging bands to record and tour and a comparatively liberal social climate, the buzz over Canada makes sense.
Which is partly why Ghost Repeaters, the debut album from Halifax, Ontario’s the Holy Shroud (featuring former members of Canadian bands Contrived and North of America), wreaked of potential. Unfortunately, that potential failed to manifest itself.
The Holy Shroud consists of guitarists Jim MacAlpine and Michael Catano, bassist Mike Bigelow, and drummer Loel Campbell. They play mid-tempo indie rock with hardcore leanings, and their sound wavers between the scrappy melodies of old Piebald albums and the reluctant aggression of Vaya-era At the Drive-In.
At times, this sound does fairly decent for itself. “Exit Poll” and “Lights Out for the Riot” are interesting, offering a pleasing mix of melody and subtle but pleasing guitar work. But as the album progresses and the equation rarely differs, the listen becomes a long and grating process. “Landmarks to Postmarks” lingers on the same guitar chord for far too long, and closer “Curtain Calls” is monotonous. Although Ghost Repeaters has its moments of strong songwriting and inspired musicianship, these appear as brief segues amidst the slump of neutrality that dominates the record.