Rival Factions review by Project 86

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  • Released: Jun 19, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.7 (50 votes)
Project 86: Rival Factions
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Sound — 9
To start, let's say they tried something new with this disc. Hell, there are even songs that sound happy. The variation is not a bad one in my opinion, though. When I first put in the disc, I thought, "What is this?" But the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. The sound is aggressive and new, but still the same old 'pushing the limits' Project that we all know and love. The guitar riffs are still similar as well, with Randy Torres once again just tearing it up, and trying all sorts of new things. There are even solos in this album, which in my opinion is a refreshing addition. There are two semi-disappointing things from this album though, the bass is not so stand-out.. in fact I've tried to listen for it and struggled to hear it in most songs; and Andrew Schwab's voice is in a different tone. I love the new tone, but I do miss his growling and screaming from previous discs, as that is missing in this disc. Every song on this album is an adventure as well, there are songs like Molotov, which are slower and almost a ballad format, songs like Illuminate which are more standard style Project songs, and then there are a few songs similar to Caveman Jam where they are trying something new, the sound on these is a little less metal and more rock, but still very impressive.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are good old Project 86 lyrics. There are songs about breaking free from oppression and doing what you want with your life, even when you're told you can't (Put Your Lips to the TV), songs about how screwed up the media is (The Forces of Radio have Dropped a Viper into the Rythym Section), and a new (and welcome) addition of story style lyrics (Caveman Jam). All songs are woven with intricate details only Andrew Schwab could add. Schwab also once again demonstrates what keeps Project unique, his voice adn singing style. In almost every song, he wanders off from where you expect the song to go, you expect the next note he sings to be high and he's almost growlingly low. You expect a scream and he wails, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and honestly (though I do miss his screaming) might be the best album to date as far as showcasing Schwab's vocal talents and range. The backup vocals, as always, are spot on, sometimes they sound even better than the front man, Project has always used back-up vocals well, and this continues on Rival Factions.

Overall Impression — 10
This, in my opinion is one of their top discs. For me, it ranks up with STBYBB and ATRWF which are/were my two favorites of their 6 albums. This album seems a bit more mature, as far as wandering out of the dark side of them, but also more (dare I say it) fun. They are again trying something new, and I think it works. I've already heard a lot of fans saying they don't like it, but I personally feel that if I wanted to hear the same song 400 different ways, I'd listen to pop, not Project 86. So, I say more power to them. It's very difficult to pick a 'most impressive song' because there are about 5-6 different styles of music on this album, you have metal, punk, rock, some sort of chugging (Chevelle-esque) rock, and then songs like Molotov and Normandy, where they are slower and more emotional. My personal favorite is "The Sanctuary Hum" This is one of the songs that showcases Project's faith, but also probably the most impressive guitar work on the album as well. Should this album come up missing, I would go buy it again that day. I've already listened to it 14 times, saw them play most of the songs in concert, and I highly doubt it will leave me car stereo anytime soon. It just doesn't get old, because of the variance of the styles within the album.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jrqberry
    First off, I love this band. I support this band. I truly believe in them. With every release, I hope they become more successful. That being said... Different isn't always better. I think this is a problem many bands have. I understand that they don't want to repeat themseleves from cd to cd, but then they can get pretty far from what made them great in the first place. Is it so wrong for them to write one or two heavy songs again? I honestly don't think there is a memorable song on Rival Factions . There's no spy hunter, pipedream, hollow again, ps, sad machines, etc... Don't get me wrong; it's good. It's better than just about anything out right now, but I have such high expectations for this band that when they don't blow me away, I'm disappointed.
    SGMX
    StatementKid- Hey, not all of us who are disappointed with the album are wanting repeats of previous efforts. I rather enjoyed your comment about the difference between Drawing Black Lines, Truthless Heroes, and Songs to Burn Your Bridges By. I remember debates over each CD about whether or not they were "sellout" CDs or worth buying or what fans they would alienate next. Anyone asking for a repeat of the "glory days" isn't keeping in mind that those days weren't necessarily that glorious at the time. But I do think that bringing up their decision to play non-Christian venues as a comparison was a bit out of place (I agree whole-heartedly with their stance, and it's their stance to take), and I was downright offended that you would compare telling Project what to do with telling God what to do (but it's OK for you to say what people can or can not say on a website, as long as they don't tell anyone else what they should or should not have released). I'm perfectly fine with the fact that Project released this CD, because I know that it was a shift that they wanted to make, but that doesn't mean I have to like the direction or style of the CD and that I can't critique it on a page that gives me that opportunity. Project is a band that has consistently provided a creative take on music, and I see this album as not just a stylistic shift, but a philosophical shift that I'm not comfortable with. Musically, this is unfamiliar territory for Project, but not for the music scene in general. This is territory that has been tread since the late 80's/early 90's. I keep hearing songs from my earlier years coming back to haunt me when I listen to this CD. It's not an inspiringly different take on music, it's a regurgitation of what's long been established as music that sells. What bothers me philosophically about the new CD is that it is a dumbed down version of Project. Where Project once experimented with time signatures, the new album sticks only to 4/4. Where Project once spread dynamic ranges to whispered a capella tracks to the dissonant chaos of Twenty-Three to the craziness of Three Card, the new CD varies from Normandy to The Forces of Radio (a dynamic range, yes, but not a very wide one). Where Project once released music videos that offered a sense of weight, now they offer us thrown coffee and mustard in someone's eyes. Where Project once offered music to make me think, the new CD provides ear candy. The whole philosophy behind the CD and its marketing screams "Jr. High youth group kids should buy this." And while I think that Project has a lot of good stuff to say that can show them what other Christian music they're listening to won't, I'm not looking for that kind of thing for myself. I will support them financially because they have a valid ministry that has impacted me, as well as a bunch of my friends. I recently went to a concert of theirs, knowing full well that I don't like their new direction, but I still want to show support for what they're doing. I'm still completely disappointed with their new disc, but loyalty is never about blindly accepting anything that's said. Loyalty is knowing that people do things we don't like and honestly considering those actions, but choosing to support them anyways (Jesus was loyal to Peter, but he called him out on stuff - not trying to say I'm Jesus, just trying to give an example that we both understand). I can't stand Project's new CD, but I still support them and their ministry.
    Morik
    Thier next album will be better, due to fan reaction, they have been playing alot of older songs on the Rival Factions tour. The thing I don't like about Rival Factions is that all the songs seem slow, compared to thier older stuff, which is faster paced tempo-wise.
    KroniX
    Been a Fan for many years. I fully feel this album is qamazing, and heavy and different. Ive found Project repeating themselves with the last few albums, and it was about time they did this album to save the bad from utter death. good on you guys, its amzing, and totally different to what i expected from you guys.. Your dinosaurs, and you keep slaying to this day!! People who think this album is the same right through Must be deaf. Others who that this is not heavy must listen to death metal on a regular basis, and anyone who says that project have lost thier touch have lost thier minds!!
    gorcorps
    I've been a project fan since their self-titled and have loved pretty much everything they've done until now. The best part about P86 in the past was how well the music created a mood for the tone of the lyrics. The music doesn't match in RF at all. I was actually very disappointed with the guitar as well. Randy has never been overly technical, but his style was always well defined and clear. In RF he uses an odd, almost indie-like distortion that sounds muddy and sloppy. Definitely a step back. Also, I think Schwab's lyrics were a little lacking compared to the past. I mean the chorus of 'Evil' uses the word 'it' so many times that I think Andrew just ran out of ideas. It's bland and not up to par with his usual quality. However, I think the new style was done well and the new vocal stylings Schwab had worked well for them. On it's own, the album isn't bad. But as a past P86 fan I was disappointed in the length (barely over 30 minutes), the sloppy guitar, and lack of mood.
    soloscat
    Good review - I agree with 90% of it. I am an old Project fan. I have listened to every record they have released. My first reaction to Rival Factions was "This is not the Project." But after a few spins, I found myself addicted. After 6 records, I think they've earned the license to explore a little. I listen to a lot of stuff harder then Project, but think this new sound is refreshing. It sounds like some people, despite what they may say, don't want to truly give it a chance. Trust me, I love it when Schwab bellows and Randy tears it up, like in Sincerely, Ichabod. But good tunes are good tunes. My only complaint about Rival Factions is that I expect more than 10 songs from these guys!
    malevolent42
    Just bought the CD today, and I am really enjoying it. Im not familar with their old albums (but I have had 'And the rest will follow' for a year or so) so i cant compare it to them, but as an album in it's own right i think it's excellent. I think it's a bit like Showbread's latest release (age of reptiles): if you compare it to 'no sir, nililism is not practical' it's both musically and lyicaly simplier, softer and alot of it could definititly be lumped as 'neo-new wave' (or whatever you want to call it, very danceable anyway). BUT as an album in it's own right it is excellent, and while i loved 'nililism' 'reptiles' is my favourite album this year. So stop comparing and enjoy it for what it is. You don't have to like it, but let the rest of us enjoy.
    ad4mZX
    Well the one thing that I found wrong with the CD is that all the songs sounded the same, in past albums they really mixed it up a lot. This can be considered good for some people, though. There were a lot of good songs on it besides ones they had already put on their purevolume, Illuminate and Evil are probably my favorites.
    statementkid
    I will join the few people who believe that this album is one of their best albums, despite the cries of disappointment. Some of the comments are typical of people who believe that bands should make music fit into a certain genre and never leave it. For those of you who have not been paying attention, Project has never wanted to be labeled as being from this genre or that genre. I can still remember back in the day when people compared them to Rage Against The Machine and how much they hated the label. It reminds me of the fundamentalist punks who say punk is The Sex Pistols and The Ramones, but not The Dead Kennedys. Many of you have this mentality and this is exactly what Project is not striving for. Your high expectations have disappointed you because you are looking for a repeat of past albums. Every album has its context and times change, and along with it the music. I have no favorite album for the simple reason that each album has a different message within a different context. The irony is, most of you would fit into the first two people mentioned in Caveman Jams. You dont get it, especially when one of you wrote that true project fans will know that this album sucks. Back when Project began playing outside of churches, people began to question their religious motives for such a move, to play shows at non- Christian venues. If you dont get the reason for this, then you will have trouble understanding the band. Loyal fans will always remain loyal; adding new fans is always a plus and it makes the fan base more inclusive, not exclusive. And stop telling the band what to do. It sounds like people who try and tell God what to do. Let the band write their music how they see fit and enjoy what they come up with next. this band needs to go back to go back to drawing black lines, truthless heros, and songs to burn your bridges buy, go back to that sound that made them so great. FYI: Many of their loyal fan base were disappointed with Truthless Heroes and failed to see the meaning behind the album. They gained new fans instead, but I dont think it made them great. Comparing the three as their great sound is an ironic, since the three are very different. The album is a progression in their music and I like the album a lot, enough that I play the album everywhere I go. I cant get enough of it. I like change in music sometimes and Project did a good job in combining something entertaining while sticking their traditional music of combining honest and real lyrics with creative and powerful music. If you are looking for a perfect album, this is not the album for you. If you want another DBL, this is not your album. If you are looking for something inspiringly different in an age of copycat artists, this is an album for you.
    ZanasCross
    Hey, guy who wrote the review here. I will start out saying that I do agree with a lot of what you say... that it isn't what we have come to expect from project 86... and at first I was disappointed. But then I went and saw them in concert the day after the release and Schwab said something that really struck me, and made me see the album in a whole new light... he said, "This album was for us... we wanted to have fun, try something new and talk about something new." You know, the album was already growing on me at that point and his point hit home as well. Sometimes you have to let the artist express themselves... its their album, not yours. And honestly, if this album had any name on it other than Project 86... we would all be raving about it... and I love the album, I'm still listening to it, and finding new songs that I love. So, I still firmly believe that I was correct in saying it was a top album, simply because I find it to be so.
    SGMX
    Easily one of the most disappointing releases in recent memory. I've given this CD a good 20+ listens trying to get it to grow on me. I want to like this CD, I really do, but nothing holds my attention. Sanctuary Hum is a great song, and there a few good moments spread out across the CD, but not enough to hold my attention. Their Self-Titled cd introduced Project to the world. It was simplistic, but it had a lot of depth and a ton of emotion. Like most debut CDs, it demonstrated musical immaturity, but it laid the foundation for what was to come. Drawing Black lines was a huge step in maturity. Songs became more than simply riffs being played, but there was a lot more subtlety and interest. As for Truthless Heroes, many people didn't like it, but it demonstrated a higher level of musicality - Hollow Again didn't stick to typical time signatures, Little Green Men had an interesting main riff, keys were present in a few songs. It definitely was a growing time for Project, even though it was one of their weaker outings. Songs to Burn Your Bridges By melded the lessons learned from Truthless Heroes with the intensity of their first two CDs, all while taking more time to explore (Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy). And the Rest Will Follow marked their departure from their previous sounds and it was more focused on innovation - Much more atmospheric attributes, more time signature diversity, a lot more melodic, a lot of emotionally powerful material; but it still carried the intensity and depth of previous efforts, just in an altered form. Rival Factions presents us with a different Project 86. The lessons learned from Truthless Heroes are present, but combined with the musical immaturity of their Selftitled CD. Gone are any time signatures other that 4/4, gone are emotionally powerful moments, gone is the intensity. Sanctuary Hum presented an interesting take on the usual Project sounds, and I rather liked that song, but the rest of the songs present a far less interesting, far less solid, far less innovative Project 86.
    jpguitar34
    for a long time i have loved and backed this band with all my heart, a couple years back when they got all their gear stolen i sent them so money to help them buy some new gear and get back on the road. that's how much this band means to me, so it really hurts to see and hear where this band has gone with this album. i'm very disapointed with this album, i may almost go as far as to say that it's their worst album. don't go by what this reviewer says, true project fans will know that this album sucks. i understand that they want to try something new and not repeat themselves, but repeating yourself is not always a bad thing. sticking to what got you to where you are now and what made your fans love you is a good thing. but if you change too much then you can lose your devote fanbase. and you wide up recording two bad albums in a row. i miss andrews screams and randys killer guitar riffs. this album lacks that in a major way and really suffers for it. andrew, i'm guessing you want people to take you seriously as a singer and we do, but your screams are amazing and you need to bring them back!!!! plus what the hell was randy thinking when he was recording his guitars? his choice of distortion is way too compressed and sounds like crap. plus it sounds like steve was useing distortion on his bass(which i think always sounds really bad)and would explain the almost nonexsisting sound of the bass as it just gets lost in the sound of the guitar. this band needs to go back to go back to drawing black lines, truthless heros, and songs to burn your bridges buy, go back to that sound that made them so great. hopefully they will be able to turn it around and get back to what made them the best band that no ones heard of except for their fans. otherwise we maybe have saddly seen the downfall from greatness of project 86.
    bokma
    I love Project 86. but i'm gonna have to say I'm disapointed with this album too. I have listened to the album countless times now and I'm really starting to like but its no where near as great as any other P86 albums. They just lost their 'heaviness'. Forces of Radio, Illuminate, Sancuary Hum are my favorites
    365_days_gone
    I was disappointed. Pit Your Lips to The TV, The Forces of Radi, and the Sanctuary Hum are really the only memorable songs.
    crankybot
    Their Christmas EP is almost out too. I pre-ordered it and it's supposed to be good.