When being told that a post-rock album lies ahead I immediately have certain sounds and song structures in mind, specifically long instrumentals or heavy soundscapes with much reverb. But Decoder go a very different way and keep their songs rather short and catchy with a slight touch of alternative rock. I must say that the compositions are all good, indeed, and also the band’s skills are similar – but there is one major weak point. Maybe it’s crucial for hardcore music but sadly Keith Jones’ screams simply don’t fit to this band. When they’re building up a song, his voice seems to cut straight through it all and takes it all down. The screams seem to be an amateurish overdub afterthought rather than an original contribution to the music. The overriding issue is the fact that the very good clean vocals of Spencer Pearson are simply not as loud as the screams and therefore disappear in the sound mix.
Nevertheless, the music itself is without flaw. The epic sounds of Decoder create a great atmosphere and there is much power throughout the whole album at the same time, mainly because most of the songs are similar in some way, which is no downside in my opinion. Decoder has found a great way to keep the spirit of post rock alive and still deliver a tight sound.
Decoder’s debut album would have been a great record if only these screams would have been better, performed or mixed, or perhaps even left out altogether… But left as they are, the music suffers in the end, sadly.