Eleven years is a long time for a band. Seven records is nothing to laugh at when you started out with such small beginnings on an even smaller record label and watched as you grew up, and so did the record label. After a rocky disbanding from the label, Project 86 returned to Tooth and Nail with abundance, and re-releasing Songs To Burn Your Bridges By on the label, and subsequent records after that, the band has released its seventh recording, Picket Fence Cartel. Two years ago Andrew Schwab and company decided to push the experimental envelope, releasing the mixed-feelings Rival Factions. On Picket Fence Cartel, the band is seen going back to their harder and more passionate roots, and this is evident even as soon as the first single “Destroyer” comes through the speakers.
“Destroyer” has a certain Marilyn Manson sound to it, with synthesizers on top of Schwab’s vocals through the first half of the track, and makes for a quick favorite to any Project 86 fan. Other parts of the record like “The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts” have a very dark feel, even for Project 86, but the lyrics of the entire album will pull anyone out of the darkness quickly. As many will see and hear, this album is their most spiritual venture to date, with nearly every song having some kind of reference to spiritual matters or God or even stories from the Bible, such as on the aforementioned track, Schwab mentions the story of David in the chorus. “Dark Angel Dragnet” is an interesting yet entertaining track from the band, as it focuses on melody mixed with Schwab’s signature screaming and fast vocal delivery. The finale of the record, “To Sand We Return” is probably one of the most powerful (and most spiritual) tracks from the band, where Schwab screams the words, “Who do I belong to? / not Earth / not world / not evil / not mortals / not riches / not horrors / Who do I belong to? / unchanging / unbreaking / unfailing / Creator / Immortal / Eternal.”
The best way I can describe this new album from Project would be to say that it contains many elements from both of their last two albums, focusing on the epic rock/hardcore from …And The Rest Will Follow and the synth experimentation from Rival Factions. It makes for a very good mix on nearly all the albums’ tracks, and of the course the band adds new elements every time they record as well. “Cold And Calculated” showcases a very aggressive sound, stylistically present on some of their older albums, and would make for an excellent live song. “Two Glass Eyes” has some punk elements in it, which harken back to their debut and Drawing Black Lines times, and that will undoubtedly excite some old school fans. Overall it’s good to hear from Project 86 again, and another 11 songs that remind many of what we came to love will please anyone who decides to pick this one up, old and new.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5