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Album Review
 
Decoder - Decoder Album Cover

Decoder - Decoder

Reviewed by
8.6
DecoderDecoder
Record Label: Rise
Release Date: January 18, 2011
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
When word arrived that Jack Burns and Keith Jones (ex-Oceana), Brent Guistwite (ex-Of Machines), and Spencer Pearson (ex-VersaEmerge) were now in a band, hype was instantly garnered. Upon the release of their first track, Decoder’s self-titled debut record quickly became one of Rise Records’ most anticipated records of the new year. Albeit Oceana have continued to progress wonderfully since the departure of Burns and Jones, many fans have longed for these two to release new music.

Simply put, Decoder in no way, shape, or form sounds like a debut record. It’s evident that each experienced member carry their own weight in the band, each adding elements to Decoder’s sound. Often times, the change from Pearson’s clean vocals, sure to bring back memories of fans of VE’s Cities Built On Sand, to the guttural screams of Jones is bloodcurdling, sure to send shivers down listeners’ backs as the change from ethereal to terrifying happens instantly. Furthermore, Pearson’s keys provide a very atmospheric mien to Decoder, heightening their sound, while guitarists Burns and Anthony Sepe add to the heavy vs. light ideal. Guistwite’s drumming is bombastic, as expected, and bassist Bryce Sipes flexes his muscles throughout the debut record as well. Clearly, this is a full band effort.

The opening track “Dreamwalker” begins atmospherically – a soft guitar begins the record before Pearson’s sky-high vocals take charge. His voice is incredibly unique and almost haunting at this point; that is, until Jones’ screams take control. As these two vocalists switch back and forth throughout the track, the beauty is in the discord between high and heavy. On the other hand, “Transcendence” begins with dominant drumming and thunderous guitars, a 180 from the opener. Jones commands this ride, but the soft background vocals are terrifyingly beautiful as Pearson asks “How much more can we take?”

Sipes provides the backbone of “Conflicts,” as his thick bass backs the opening screams. “Believers” is an industrial number, beautifully unbalanced; rather than having Jones scream over drop tuned guitars as most Rise bands do, Decoder employ soft guitar strums and plucks behind his wails, providing a more atmospheric, perceptive feel to the record. “The Giver” and “The Horrid” follow the overall tone of the record. With the former being an emotional ride and the latter being a soft, Circa Survive-esque track at start before picking up to another heavy number, these tracks each convey dissimilar sides to Decoder, proving their genuine creativity and various background influences.

The final tracks “Drones” and “Holding On” end Decoder on a softer, distinctive note. “Drones” is evocative in itself, with Pearson opening the track with his soaring vocals before he and Jones share a riveting call and return sing-scream tide. The back and forth changes are definite and haunting, leading into “Holding On” with quivering steps. The closer is poles apart from any other track on the record. Soft piano backs Pearson’s incredibly soft vocals as he sings “I can see your eyes through thick and thin” his voice has never sounded better. As the track closes, Jones grabs the reins over growing guitars and drums, ending the record at a soaring place.

As the final track comes to a close, it takes a few minute to obtain what Decoder are, for as the final piano drifts out, it becomes clear that Decoder are unlike other Rise bands. The instantaneous changing from singing to screaming has been used before, but here, these vocalists do so with such passion and precision. Likewise, the instrumentation of the new band creates such an effective mood behind the vocals, adding layers to the destruction vs. beauty. For only a debut record, Decoder warrants a great future for these guys, and that is the only simple element of the record.

Recommended If You LikeAs Cities Burn; Oceana; Tides Of Man; VersaEmerge’s Cities Built On Sand

Listen ToDreamwalker; Conflicts; The Giver

Additional Information
Track Listing:
1. Dreamwalker
2. Transcendence
3. Conflicts
4. Believers
5. The Light
6. The Giver
7. The Horrid
8. The Taker
9. Drones
10. Holding On

Decoder are:
Keith Jones – Vocals, Aux
Jack Burns – Guitar
Anthony Sepe – Guitar
Brent Guistwite – Drums
Spencer Pearson – Vocals, Keys
Bryce Sipes – Bass

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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 139
07:20 AM on 01/17/11
#2
Jasper112
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"Albeit Oceana have continued to progress wonderfully since the departure of Burns and Jones after The Tide, many fans have longed for these two to release new music."

Jack Burns actually left Oceana after the Clean Head EP. He wrote birth.eather and the clean head EP, hence the resemblence of decoder to the 'new' oceana sound. Hes doing awesome things. Just hope oceana can cope without him and continue to make some progressive new stuff.
07:25 AM on 01/17/11
#3
incognitojones
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Good review, definitely a lot of potential for this band.
07:30 AM on 01/17/11
#4
Ryan Gardner
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"Albeit Oceana have continued to progress wonderfully since the departure of Burns and Jones after The Tide, many fans have longed for these two to release new music."

Jack Burns actually left Oceana after the Clean Head EP. He wrote birth.eather and the clean head EP, hence the resemblence of decoder to the 'new' oceana sound. Hes doing awesome things. Just hope oceana can cope without him and continue to make some progressive new stuff.
Yeah, didn't catch that. Thank you.
07:30 AM on 01/17/11
#5
cwhit412
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I still think it gets really boring after a while. My review should be posted here next week, but I gave it more of a high 70's. All the songs just sound the same, other than Holding On.
07:31 AM on 01/17/11
#6
DylanPPPP
Don't ya like clowns?!
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This is getting me kind of excited to pick this up. Can't wait.
07:34 AM on 01/17/11
#7
Zack Zarrillo
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The record is really great. I was pretty impressed.
07:48 AM on 01/17/11
#8
Smeee
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Not enjoying this as much as I hoped. Will give it time though.
07:48 AM on 01/17/11
#9
_><_
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All the songs sound the same.
07:58 AM on 01/17/11
DylanPPPP
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With bands like this, the songs will always sound the same upon first listen. I've found myself listening to a CD with really similar songs upon first listen and then shelving it only to find that I absolutely love it later on.
08:08 AM on 01/17/11
tottivillarossi
these pretzels are makin me thirsty
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You've made a typo in your RIYL: "As Cities Burns" doesn't need that final s.

Btw, I'm not sure ACB are a very good recommendation. They don't really sound that similar and I can't see Decoder appealing to the same crowd.


I completely agree with the final paragraph though.
08:09 AM on 01/17/11
earthboy
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Great review. Has me excited to get my preorder. The only track I've heard is "Conflicts" so the whole album will still be pretty new to me.
08:13 AM on 01/17/11
the daniel
Colors
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Riyl: Mew.
08:30 AM on 01/17/11
kemichels
I drove through ghosts to get here.
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Wow...No.

This review is WAY too high.
08:33 AM on 01/17/11
MrAndyRoo
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Good review. I'll have to check this out.

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