Released: August 21st
Project 86 sounds like a secret government file, a file bursting with information only to be read by those top government cats; a file that holds information so precious that it’ll never be seen by an ordinary member of the public (unless it magically appears on Wikileaks); a file so wickedly valuable that to even touch it, without authorisation, will almost always lead to your puzzling yet swift disappearance from existence. As well, it’s a file to kill for. If you do manage to get your hands on it – steal it, then sell it, or copy it – you’ll forever be on the run but you’ll never have the burden of running out of money. You could live your days out in a pretty prosperous way; if the worry of your soon-to-be demise isn’t enough to push you onto the verge of schizophrenia or depression, that is.
But, from what I know anyway, Project 86 isn’t a secret government file (I’m a forlorn writer for Pete’s sake, not a shady private eye) – the Project 86 I know is an American Christian rock band, first formed in 1996. Hailing from California, the band has released eight studio albums (which have sold nearly 500,000 units worldwide), two EP’s, two DVD’s, and one live album. The band is associated with labels such as Atlantic Records, BEC Recordings and Tooth & Nail Records but the band has released this album, Wait For The Siren, via a Kickstarter campaign and have stated that “the fans are now our record label.”
Since the band’s inception, their music has been residing in a rock/post-hardcore/alternative style, with the lyrics addressing a variety of topics but most notably tap into conformity and emptiness – with frontman Andrew Schwab’s poetic and introspective style collating all charters of the personal and relatable feel that their music holds. But, with this new album, the band has promised it’ll be a fresh take on the Project 86 sound. And, with the inclusion of three new members – Scott Davis (drums), Dustin Lowry (guitar), Mikee Williams (bass) – many fans have noticed the band, when playing live, has benefited from a back-to-basics reinvention. But can they carry this reinvention onto a fresh studio album?
The album starts with Fall, Goliath, Fall. A tender opening to the track, with delicate tones which not only act as a false pretence to the heaviness of the track later on but also act as a building-up of atmosphere and mood, with the soft and steady attitude washing up in the early morning light of the track. The riff that tears the gentle lulling away is robust, rhythmical and mean and it’s hard not to nod your head along to it. The group-chanting of fall, Goliath, fall, fall, Goliath encourages the listener to join in, too, and it’s a great means of accessibility and capturing the listener’s attention straight away. At times, the track brings to mind essences of Rise Against, but this could be simply because of Schwab’s vocal style, or because of the broad structure of the guitar. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It works, and it’s a great start to a fresher sounding Project 86.
New Transmission has a calming tranquillity of ambience hiding behind the tough, juddering bass-line and solid guitar riffs. This ambience works well alongside the soothing vocals and when the guitar well and truly enters the fray, the winding riff will lead you onto a path speckled with emerald sunrays that you’ll want to bask in until the sun nudges back behind the night clouds.
Ghosts Of Easter Rising is possibly the most accessible track on offer. The drawn-out, empowering guitar paired with the commanding, rolling drumbeat and the eloquently refined bagpipes accentuate the pounding, bouncing bass-line – congealing the rhythm of the track and snaring the bite that all the instruments furtively manage to keep under wraps. A particular highlight of the album.
The title-track, which ends the album, is a swirling snowglobe of full-bodied sound. The soaring pipes, slow, crushing drumbeat and Schwab’s hushed, purging vocal style plunges you into the reservoir of noise that’s being trickled into every second. It’s a calming, serene way of ending the album and it leaves you with a breathless silence to gather your thoughts – something which is needed after listening to the 13 tracks that make up Wait For the Siren.
This album shows Project 86 taking their sound to a fresh level which we’ve not encountered before. The album isn’t perfect, but the flaws which are there make the album that much more real and appealing. They may have just stepped into the torn canvas of a whole new start for the band, but there’s also the chance of the canvas ripping and getting smudged with the rain when a band take on such an invigorating new sound. It’s good, though, to hear a band attempting something different with their sound – and this is where the majority of the strength lies.