Sound: Project 86 are one band that can consistently deliver great music without becoming boring and 'putting out the same record over and over again.' They always keep a similar sound, which keeps them likable, but somehow they manage to add another element to themselves. They began with an odd combination of rap(ish) and yelling/screaming, and are now more into singing and yelling/screaming. Randy Torres delivers his usual simple but effectively awesome riffage and Steven Dail has his bass distorted and pounding. This is the first full album (as far as I know) that does not have Alex Albert on drums, but it might as well; whoever it is delivers almost the same style.
The album sounds similar to their others, but also keeps to itself. I'll go over the individual tracks.
01.Destroyer: kind of creepy beginning, some ghostly creepy sounds, and then the guitar comes in, 5 quick chugs at a time. Then Andrew Schwab comes in with some subtle but menacing vocals. Soon, he breaks out his yell and it's time for business. Great start for the album. 9/10
02.The Butcher: one of the simplest riffs ever, but it's hard to not enjoy (or start playing when you pick up your guitar.) Sweet chorus. The lyrics gel well with the instrumentals, and also sound pretty BA, especially in the Pre-Chorus. 9/10
03.The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts: arguably the best track on the album. Very interesting guitar in the verse, starting with a high, lead, adding a lower, awesomefest of heaviness. The chorus is quiet at first, but the second time around, it shows it's colors. The bridge includes some more of the classic Schwab yell. 10/10
04.Dark Angel Dragnet: Andrew Schwab shows off his singing voice in this one more than usual. Another awesome chorus. Let it rain. 8/10
05.Cold And Calculated: another simple riff, but a very different song as far as the album has gone so far. I would say it's more reminiscent of their earlier albums, for the verse at least. The chorus is one of the more odd-sounding they have produced. Still good. 8/10
06.Cement Shoes: nothing special about this track other than it's catchiness; it's solid, but not as good as the others. 7/10
07.A John Hancock with the Safety Off: this song sounds like it belongs on Rival Factions, for real. If you liked that album, you'll probably enjoy this one. Lots of keyboard in this one. 9/10
08.Glass Eyes: starts out slow, but don't be fooled. It breaks into a faster drum beat, sounds a bit like Cold and Calculated but is still it's own song. 8/10
09.Cyclonus: Torres awesomeness flows from the riffs in this song, complimented perfectly by Schwab's constant lyrical and melodic genius. 10/10
10.The Black Brigade: this song is unique for this album. Actually, it's unique for the whole Project 86 catalog. It's only true companion is Molotov for Rival Factions, which stood out on that album as well. Not to say that it's bad, because it isn't; good song. 9/10
11.To Sand We Return: great ending song. Classic Project 86 awesomeness is all I can say. Random acoustic part way through, but it only adds to the song's greatness. Surrender to the sound! 10/10 // 10
Lyrics: As usual, Andrew Schwab can do nothing except be excellent at what he does, which is basically put poems (often violent) to sweet, heavy, hardcore, whatever adjective floats your boat, music. Randy Torres doesn't polish his pipes on this record much, if at all. But Schwab is one of the best vocalists in my book. He delivers above and beyond, but that's just an average record for him. Everything fits perfectly to the music, and he even shows off some of his falsetto action (Dark Angel Dragnet). // 10
Overall Impression: Project 86 is hard to put in the confining box of genres, but that might be just my lack of knowledge. They are pretty heavy, but there aren't many solos to speak of. There is screaming and yelling, but I would hardly call them Screamo. They sound like themselves, but as I said earlier, they add elements to themselves on every album. They began with heavy rap (Project 86, Drawing Black Lines), moved to more singing (but still heavy)(Truthless Heroes, Songs to Burn Your Bridges By, ...And the Rest Will Follow), then almost to a level of rock that isn't heavy, just cool in it's own way (Rival Factions), and now to their current masterpiece dripping with awesomeness/epicness, Picket Fence Cartel, which one could almost say is a mix of their albums with some new, even heavier twists.
If you don't listen to Project 86, I must say you are missing out on some sweet music, and this album is one of their greatest. They are by far one of the most under-rated bands ever. If you plan on getting an album by them, this is a good one to start off with. // 10