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Decyfer Down – “Crash” (2009) May 9, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Decyfer Down.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Stop right there, I know what you’re thinking.  There’s a lot of injustices in this world, and one of the worst is having to review a singer taking over a band from another singer.  There’s always the inevitable comparisons to the guy before him, and many always say the original can never be topped.  It’s silly really, to judge a band so heavily based on their previous sound.  Still, this is the dilemma I now face with Decyfer Down’s Crash running in my MP3 player now.  The Christian rockers from North Carolina recently replaced Caleb Oliver with TJ Harris, formerly of Fighting Instinct.  The good news for Decyfer Down fans is I can guarantee this is completely unbiased towards either singer, since this is my first time ever hearing Decyfer Down.

As far as first impressions go, the first few tracks of Crash are outstanding.  The title track is a great explosive album opener and pretty much tells you what you’re in for.  “Crash” is nothing but a power-hungry rock song with big hooks and some solid contribution from Harris.  His vocals are crisp and ranged, and while they wouldn’t stand out from a lot of rock singers, he’s got a voice that can carry a band.  This is more evident in “Fading”, the third track and major standout.  The chorus of this track guarantees attention will be paid, by dropping the tempo of the song just before, then thrusting into a passionate vocal blast from Harris.  You’ll be singing this one by the end of the first spin.

“Best I Can” is another favorite.  The lyrics would make anyone’s pity party complete with words like “I don’t live a perfect life, but god knows I’m trying the best I can.”  The tone of the song is tragic, and Harris really packs in the emotion of every word.  It’s a better track for it too, and stands out with each listen despite being one of the softer songs on the album.  Decyfer Down cracks the whip though and the rock n’ roll train resumes with “Ride With Me” with is a 100% adrenaline-fueled anthem.  If you’re looking for good solid rock, Decyfer Down definitely has the medicine you need.

As it is however, Decyfer Down is fairly carbon copy throughout Crash.  There are exceptions for sure, however.  “Wasting Away” has an emotional peak of a chorus, and the previously mentioned “Fading” and “Best I Can” do their part to diversify the album, but all in all most of the stuff sounds like music you’d hear on the Myspace of 90% of today’s bands.  “Over My Head” and “Moving On” get totally lost in the late-album shuffle in short because they are completely lacking of any extraordinary effort.  The case with these kinds of songs is something found frequently throughout the album, and that’s a general lack of instrumental diversity.  Most of the fretwork and drumming sounds very standard, and I never find myself hooked on a particular riff.  Throughout much of the album, it’s the powerful voice of Harris mixed with song tempos that drives the good songs.

Who am I to overly criticize a band for sounding good though, right?  Decyfer Down has a great thing going with Crash.  Many of the songs have some solid hooks that will have you humming tunes in your head for ages, creativity be damned.  A casual music listener will find a lot to like in Decyfer Down’s uptempo songs and strong arrangements.  Nitpickers may find a few things to hate on here and there, but all in all Crash is a solid effort that should be rewarded with a good number of listens.

7.5 out of 10 – Download “Wasting Away”

Decyfer Down is | TJ Harris – Vocals, Bass | Brandon Mills – Guitar | Chris Clonts – Guitar | Josh Oliver – Drums

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