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.