A quick note before the review: I’m reviewing the repackaged, re-recorded STBYBB, not the original independent release.
Now, on to the review…
Released originally in 2003, then re-released in 2004, this is Project 86’s darkest album. After the poorly received Truthless Heroes
(not a bad record by any means), Project 86 had plenty of frustration with the music industry, resulting in a very cynical record. Surprisingly, though, they used the same producer for Truthless Heroes
(Matt Hyde) for STBYBB
The musicianship is very good, as always. Randy Torres plays riffs that are chunky, yet hooky. He doesn’t do crazy solos, but sprinkles a few solo-esque sections around (like the chorus of “The Spy Hunter” or in “Breakneck Speed”). Randy also provides awesome backup vocals for Schwab; on “A Shadow On Me” and “Safe Haven” he sings beautiful backing melodies, which Schwab sings around.
The rhythm section is crisp and powerful, but never in the way. Steve Dail’s bass is meaty and instead of trying to impress with technical prowess, the bass hits you at a much more visceral, primal level, especially on tracks like “A Fruitless End Ever” and “The Spy Hunter”. Alex Albert’s drums are nothing too special, but he’s a very solid drummer and pulls a couple cool tricks here and there.
And of course, Andrew Schwab, lead vocalist and songwriter. As always, he does a superb job in both areas. His vocals never fail to astound me; where most hard hard rock vocalists screech, Schwab genuinely roars. I can’t think of any better word to describe it. But the man can sing as well, and while he doesn’t have a fantastic singing voice I find that there is something of a hypnotic quality to his clean vocals (see “A Shadow On Me”). However, he more often resorts to his loud, atmospheric howls.
Lyrically, the album is stellar. Andrew writes very deep lyrics that make you actually think about what you’re listening to. “When the world is a target for humanity’s market / and all of it’s sold for a dime / I’ve seen towers of gods and the powers of men / in disguises of the worst kind.” There is not a lot of optimism on the album, a result of P86’s infamous run-in with major label Atlantic. As such, there are a fair number of songs about the music industry such as “Breakdown in 3/4” and “The Great Golden Gate Disaster” (the latter taking clear shots at Atlantic). Other topics range from religion and its hypocrisy (“Safe Haven”) to child abuse (“Sioux Lane Spirits”).
The song quality was their best thus far, in my opinion. The production is crisper, but retains a little bit of the roughness from Drawing Black Lines. They also turned the bass up a little bit, which is definitely a good thing. They array of different styles on the album is impressive, from the locomotive “Spy Hunter” to the groovy “Say Goodnight To The Bad Guy…” to the punk flavoured “3 Card” to the slow burn of “Solace”. None of them sound out of place, either; they all fit to form a fairly cohesive album with a loosely similar central sound, mostly due to Schwab’s voice and Dail’s bass. This is probably their most accesible album (besides maybe Rival Factions
). The only thing would be that the pessimism might put off some people.
There are a few weak spots, however: “Circuitry” is a pulsing track that doesn’t really take off. “A Text Message To The So-Called Emperor” is a spoken word track, with some interesting lyrics, but is a little boring. However, it can be forgiven, because as the second-last track, it leads into “Solace” nicely.
Another interesting thing (I think) about the album is how it grows on you; when I first listened to it, I wasn’t as impressed with some songs (such as “Oblivion” and “Breakneck Speed”) but they have grown to be some of my favourites.
Overall, a very solid, fairly unique hard rock album with an intelligent twist.
The Spy Hunter
A Shadow On Me
A Fruitless End Ever
Please tell me what you think, as this is my first review. Thanks for reading.