Decoder - Decoder

Album cover
Post-hardcore
Rise Records
Decoder
Decoder
Decoder - Decoder Review rating:
3.5
User rating:
Average: 3.4 (7 votes)

Decoder could, in many ways, be considered either a post-hardcore supergroup or a scene trashbin. Made up of former members of Oceana, Of Machines, and VersaEmerge, each member (with the exception of bassist Bryce Sipes and guitarist Anthony Sepe) has tasted success on some level before joining their current outfit. Now signed to Rise Records (the former home to both Of Machines and Oceana) for the release of their debut album, the self-titled Decoder, the members have easily proven themselves as masters of their craft without the aid of their previous bands by producing a near seamless, prog-influenced post-hardcore record.

The album starts off with the airy “Dreamwalker,” a track that easily sets the tone for the rest of the record. The progressive influences are obvious in the band’s instrumentation, which, while invoking the idea of a slightly heavier Circa Survive, stays considerably lighter than most of Rise’s roster. The music perfectly supports both clean vocalist Spencer Pearson’s (ex-VersaEmerge) soaring notes and lead screamer Keith Jones’s (ex-Oceana) pained (and sometimes misplaced) screams. “Transcendence” introduces a note of chaos into the band’s sound while still managing to maintain an overarching melody, and it provides the perfect backdrop for the trade offs between Jones’s frantic screams and Pearson’s soulful musings. Much of the album continues in this way, with harmony and chaos taking turns supporting the overwhelming skill of the band’s two vocalists. Drummer Brent Guistwite (ex-Of Machines) provides the perfect backbone to both Jones’s shrieks and Pearson’s croons, as “Believers” and “Conflicts” clearly show. Meanwhile, guitarists Sepe and Jack Burns (ex-Oceana) provide an intriguing musical experience on “The Light,” allowing the music to switch from light and smooth to heavy and chaotic as quickly as Pearson and Jones switch duties. Bassist Sipes helps contributes to the slowly-building introduction of “Drones.” Finally, Pearson’s work on the keys is most poignant in album closer “Holding On.” It is clear that, despite the moments in the spotlight, this band works as a unit, striving to attain collective musical nirvana instead of fighting amongst each other for the most features on a song. This mindset allows each member to showcase their own talents while contributing to the band’s overall sound. The entire band proves their worth on “The Giver,” an song as eerie, frantic, and urgent as the Lois Lowry novel of the same name.

Yet, for all the band’s obvious skill, one thing lacks: diversity. While the band serves up excellent mid-to-fast-tempo tunes, there is little present to display the band’s versatility (and break the similar tempos heard throughout the rest of the record) outside of closer “Holding On,” a brilliant, soaring ballad that, as usual, allows Pearson and Jones to shine.

Overall, Decoder is excellent. Technical skill and work as a cohesive unit has worked in the band’s favor. The album’s downside is the monotony of the overall piece that is broken only in the album’s final moments. In the future, a few more ballads (or, better yet, more strategic placement of them) could easily turn the band’s next record from excellent to absolutely stunning. Despite that, the band’s future is bright. With some big-name tours lined up already, it seems that this outfit’s career will soar as high as Pearson’s voice.
Track Listing:


1. Dreamwalker
2. Transcendence
3. Conflict
4. Believers
5. The Light
6. The Giver
7. The Horrid
8. The Taker
9. Drones
10. Holding On

At least two artists share the name Decoder.

1. Decoder is a band formed by former members of 3 most prominent Floridian post-hardcore bands. It includes VersaEmerge's original lead singer (left after recording the "Cities Built On Sand" EP), Spencer Pearson, Oceana's original vocalist Keith Jones and guitarist Jack Burns together with now defunct Of Machines drummer Brent Guistwite and Vinny Capitani, former guitarist in Keith Jones' project My Foundation.

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