Project 86
Picket Fence Cartel



by fromtheinside USER (138 Reviews)
August 11th, 2009 | 19 replies

Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

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 Factionsto 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! beware...

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.

Cyclonus 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,Cyclonus, 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.

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Project 86 mixes their last three albums to make one beautiful baby of an album...

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 11th 2009


alright, who neg'd... ugh

August 12th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, I had no doubt someone would write one like this.

This album is actually solid if you like P86, but they grew off me too much to give this much credit. I still enjoy Andrew's vocals, but really the only two albums I can listen all the way through are Rival Factions and Drawing Black Lines.

August 12th 2009


thank you. yeah rival factions is probably the only thing i really listen to as well.

August 12th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

who plays the drums for these guys?

August 12th 2009


probably some in studio guy, i couldn't find any info on it.

August 12th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

yeah i've been wondering that since rival factions. good review by the way

October 4th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

Wee-ooo Wee-ooo.

Destroyer is really good.

October 4th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

This got old realllllyy fast.

October 10th 2009


album is completely forgettable.

October 16th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

this was really painful to listen to. Considering how solid Rival Factions is. this is def. their worst album

November 10th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

At least they tried some different stuff... kind of.

November 12th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Once again Project has released an album that took me a few good weeks to get into. After the initial disappointment with an album that was heavier for the sake of it, I was surprised to find myself with several of the tracks stuck in my head. The butcher was the track that really won it over for me. Chucking a huge riff from the word go, The Butcher reminded me that Project 86 is never anything for the sake of it.

Best Tracks:

The Butcher

A John Hancock with the Safety Off

Two Glass Eyes


The Black Brigade

To Sand We Return

December 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Better than you let on, but a decent review. Best songs imo:

The Destroyer

The Butcher

Cement Shoes

Cold and Calculated

April 25th 2010


Whatever happened to Songs to burn your bridges by? Don't tell me that breakneck speed and sioux lane spirits aren't great songs. Safe haven.... and head back to their previous releases. Team black and STEINS THEME, all great music.

Anywho sorry I just got to this review I completely forgot to check for new releases after I last bought ".. and the rest will follow".

One does get the feeling that they're losing steam... I think they need to smoke a bit of weed and start jamming on those classic chords they've perfected over the years to find some faster and more original and catchy tempos.

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

i can't really say that i agree entirely with this review i mean some of what he says is true like "The Butcher, which has a riff worth the licking, has bite all the way through" even "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" but i think that the album was still good, not their best work but definitly good. except "to sand we return" which is in my opinion one of the best songs they've ever written.

January 31st 2011


I lose interest after the first four songs tbh.

May 23rd 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

I'm still confused on why they haven't decided to release any information on who played drums on this CD and Rival Factions.

May 2nd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

What's with the low rating? I feel this album is a only slightly less catchier than Rival Factions, but very enjoyable.

Cold and Calculated, John Hancock, The Butcher, Dark Agent Dragnet are all awesome songs. The others are pretty good too.

What I appreciate about this band, is that they release different sounding albums.

Digging: Sumack - Now Hear This

June 28th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Some parts of the review I agree with, but certain sentences kind of peeve me as a listener of Project 86. You come off as ignorant about the purpose of the band. The band has no desire to reach the "plateau" of the DBL era and actually perservere to get away from it as much as possible. And as for calling the fans "fanz!" for the whole article was a total miss. It seems like a personal attack which is completely unnecessary. You sound like a douche.

Yeah, this album definitely wasn't their strongest obviously but there is still enough keepers on it to jam to. I think a 3.5 or a 4 would do it better justice personally. And as for the drummer, I have no clue either. I know Jason Gerkin played drums on Rival Factions. He was credited in the album's booklet lol

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