Decyfer Down's Crash and a Glorious Freebie
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
Decyfer Down Conquers Crash
For those wondering what took Decyfer Down three years to release its sophomore CD Crash on INO Records, there were plenty of roadblocks that would've sent a lesser band down for the count. In between albums, the hard rock foursome found themselves victims of a freakish van crash that sent its vehicle sliding across several lanes of traffic, sideswiping a guardrail and sending equipment flying in all directions.
Fervent fans of the band will recall the guys' pleas for prayers, alongside countless MySpace messages of support and well wishes, which turned out to be the very reason the fellas continued. "The accident allowed us to refocus our energies, passion and vision into impacting people through the message and ministry," says drummer Josh Oliver, who still finds the situation sobering even though he's since relegated the memory to past tense. "When getting into the record process and recording, we had to focus on really making sure our vision and passion for what we do was shown through our music."
Outside of a directional refinement, Crash also finds vocalist TJ Harris—formerly of Fighting Instinct fame—stepping up to the microphone for previous leader Caleb Oliver, who was recently married. Though a familiar band swapping singers is far from a first (Newsboys, Petra, Journey, INXS), it also caused some serious soul searching.
"When Caleb stepped down, we had to do a lot of praying and really seek Godto see if He wanted us to continue," Josh continues. "When we were given a peace that he wasn't done with Decyfer Down yet, we were very grateful and honored to have TJ Harris come on board and continue our calling. It is definitely a new beginning, and we are very excited about what God did through this transition."
The new CD finds Decyfer Down blending bone crunching guitars with occasional instances of melodic release that could as easily fit in a head-banging youth group setting as on the Wrestlemania 25 soundtrack (which recently featured the disc's title track). "Crash has a more mature and more experienced sound," the beat-keeping Oliver adds. "We believe that we've taken it up a notch as far as our songwriting and performance goes on the songs as well. The songs touch on different aspects of our journey as believers, [basically] that God has a purpose and plan for your life."
The Glorious Unseen's EP Freebie
In an era when the bank book is stretched further than ever, no one is going to complain about free music. In fact, vertically tinged modern rockers The Glorious Unseen are plotting its own small, but sure-fire stimulus package, allowing fans of all fervency levels to download its The Cries of the Broken EP for free.
"The EP was done as kind of a special thing for our fans who have supported us in many ways over the last year or so," reasons Ben Crist, front man for the Tooth & Nail/BEC band. "The concept with this EP was to do some acoustic versions of some of the songs off our first full length Tonight the Stars Speak. These songs are done in a much simpler version and were helpful to many of these worship leaders who were trying to figure out how to lead the songs in their churches. The Tonight the Stars record had tons of ambient guitars and was really electric driven. We wanted to do some songs in a more stripped down way."
While most full-length albums loaded with sophisticated production and instrumentation can cost a fortune, the bare bones approach was remarkably reasonable to record. Besides rewarding longtime listeners, the fivesome also feels The Cries of the Broken can be a tool to reach out to a new audience.
"The record did not cost us much to make so we wanted to offer it free to our loyal fans, and hopefully by offering it for free, we could get it to new fans as well," ventures Crist. "These songs were all written to be sung in our church, and we believe they can be inspiring to many worshippers who are looking to worship the Lord in a new way."
VOTA Takes a 180
Considering Bryan Olesen used to be a member of the Newsboys, touring with that band feels like second nature for the current VOTA front man (who were formerly called Casting Pearls, but changed its name at the end of last year to prevent confusion with Casting Crowns). No wonder why the enduring Aussie alt-poppers asked Olesen and his current act to open its "Join the Tribe" Tour this spring and summer, which is gaining tons of publicity, if only for dc Talk front man Michael Tait taking over for Newsboys' longtime ringleader Peter Furler. But one angle that's been a bit more under the radar these days is VOTA founding the "180 Tour," an outreach endeavor that the band plans to continue after this extensive Newsboys trek.
"We are heavily committed to our 180 Tour that we created in 2006 right after I left
Newsboys," Olsen unveils. "The 180 Tour (www.180tour.com) goes into public high school assemblies to encourage kids in their character and decision making. Then we invite students out to an evening event where we share the gospel, which has been an amazing tool to reach students."
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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