The North Carolina rockers known as Decyfer Down came back from oblivion with “Scarecrow” in 2013. It was a surprise of an album venturing into riffs and southern hooks that took heavy influences from vocalist TJ Harris and his previous band Fighting Instinct. The album was a sweet breath from what one might expect from the radio-ready rock group. Unfortunately, “Scarecrow” received mix reception and fell under too many radars. The good news is that they’re back with a heavier effort and look to be sticking around. The bad news, it’s forgettable and falls short of the mark they previously set for themselves.
“Rearrange” begins the album in a modern rock tone that brings hints of their “Crash” album. As far as a first track to get the listener into the album, it does what it sets out to do. It’s a head banger and displays a myriad of showcase moments from drummer Benjamin Millhouse.
Lyrically, “The Other Side Of Darkness” is a strong one with messages of hope and perseverance in nearly every song. Harris has never been one to be shy in his lyrics about his faith or beliefs. This is one of the few, yet very important pluses of the album.
This effort also can boast of great production. The guitar tone is big and heavy, the vocals soar, and the drums are punchy and without sounding thin. The compressed and condensed sound that hinders so many rock albums is nowhere to be found here.
The first single features a never before heard facet of Harris’ growing number of talents. “Nothing More” shows off screams in the tail end of the song and gives an edge to a hard hitting single ready for the radio.
The album falters after the single when it reaches the first ballad. “Believe In Me” is again a lyrical gem and while respectable in that matter, as a song it falls as another ballad on another rock album. The title track and “Beautiful Lie” are highlights among the dimming album and their placement lifts the middle section of the album.
Unfortunately the album seeps down with another ballad and ends weakly with one exception. The final track, “Burn Back The Sun,” a song first released on their debut album has been re-recorded in a much more intimate and personal tone. Despite the forgetfulness of the album, Harris is a vocalist with tremendous range. His ability to perform was and will never be in question. He shows off falsetto and softness that compliments a toned down version of the previous rock song. It’s a mellow song that treads carefully and avoids the pitfalls of ending with an unoriginal worship song made for Christian radio.
“The Other Side Of Darkness” is a valley that travels up and down and never gives a feeling of satisfaction of a solid rock album. It’s great that the band is back with a new album and touring, but this effort is missing what gave “Scarecrow” such a unique edge.