Review Summary: FANZ! will love the riffage!
Project 86, a band that's never really captivated me, but I still find myself checking them out every new release just to see how they progress. Progression, a word not foreign to the band, as their last album saw quite a drift into the catchy-ness category. With a more straight-edge appeal the boys have set out to create another, hopefully, "critically approved", and maybe even reach the plateau of the widely accepted Drawing Black Lines
. As I enjoyed, Rival Factions
to some extent, more than their other releases, Picket Fence Cartel
shows a band choosing to stay complacent with one sound, that also alludes to some regression, so Project 86 fanz!
Right off the bat we know what we're in for with Destroyer
, driven by a rough riff and some ambient effects, it's one of the highlights of the album, as the bands chemistry flows effortlessly. Andrew Schwab cries out in the intro, "Ready yourself for the end" over brooding synthesizing, and his voice takes a stab at an eerie attempt to crawl under the skin. While I didn't necessarily ooze at first listen, I was satisfied nonetheless. Two things I happened to notice though was the heaviness had toned down a bit, and the drumming has taken a significant back seat to everything else. So the trends begin for the rest of the listen.
Something I've always admired about Project 86 was their edge, a way to deliver some conventional songs, but really able to make them their own often creating a satisfying listen for me. Here there's little edge to back up the extremely
top heavy, opening tracks. The Butcher
, which has a riff worth the licking, has bite all the way through, and sounds like it'd fit perfectly into any school yard fight scene, but after this mammoth of a mountain has reached it's peak, it's really just all downhill from there.
Two Glass Eyes
, is worth mentioning as it remembers its heritage a bit, with a fast and aggressive riff for the verses, Andrew is heard screaming out, "I heard you're on a witch hunt here tonight, Desperate to reclaim those limelight heights, But oh I can't believe the envy cocktails you consume, And now you condescend to take me for a fool". Nothing too inspiring happens, it's pretty much just some deja vu for the fanz!
, and in actually the song misses it's mark in the chorus, as it flat lines all it's momentum, offering up quite the let down.
This is one of my main grips towards the album; the band will often get the ball rolling quite a few times, but as soon as the try to add something new to the mix, they end up tainting the entire piece. Dark Angel Dragnet
is a great example, as the song offers an extremely catchy chorus but if unfortunately plagued by the awkward verses thanks to Andrew and his interesting vocal take. Kudos to him trying to spice things up a bit showcasing his voice to the best of his abilities, but here it's like adding pepper to pancakes.
seems like it'll retread old waters previously heard on The Butcher
, and then... nothing happens. It's just one tone, with very little variation, all the way through. Randy Torres tries slicing up the track as much as possible, but the songs becomes excessively tiring and boring by the second chorus. This sums up the album best. Every song, in some form or another, sounds the same and starts to feel evaporated of originality. The same dynamics are applied to each piece, crunching riffs with driving drums and bass lines -that are truly forgettable if one tried, and probably the biggest downfall here is Andrew as he sings the same style for the majority.
There are some exceptions, like A John Hancock With the Safety Off
offers up interesting riffage for the verse coupled with a danceable backdrop provided by the instruments long forgotten (the bass and drums). Sadly, what kills this song is the lyrics; something that is a huge miss for Picket Fence Cartel
. They're often either too cheesy to take seriously or just simply nonsensical, "Cure the radio, Cure the Airwaves, Cure the video, Cure the satellite" is just one of the unnecessary and ridiculously redundant lyrics. A majority of the songs on this disc employ the same mechanics lyrically most notable on, Destroyer
, The Butcher
, Cold and Calculated
Last Word: Here's the thing, the band seem to be trying to harden that sound they deviated a little bit towards on Rival Factions
. Conclusively what ends up happening are several different pieces in separate songs that drag the listening experience down. Where the band try to do something interesting things, it truly come off rather hit or miss with the majority of it landing on the latter. Another downside that can't be ignored is how complacent the album feels at times. Boredom starts to set in around the fifth track, and since nearly every song sounds identical, with the exception of Picket Fence Cartel
and To Sand We Return
, there's really nothing to look forward to for the next six tracks. For the most part I think this album may just be the victim of a band trying to get new material out for the label. We can only hope this is a slip, and the band will continue to progress, or sadly this may have been their last record I actually cared to look into.