Project 86 has sparked some controversy in the not-so-distant past. Besides insisting not to be regarded as a "Christian band," the rock quartet's official website for their last release Truthless Heroes caused an eruption of internet discussion. It was controversial enough, but the album itself was what created the most buzz. Deep and foreboding, hope was a distant light in the darkness that showed no signs of growing closer on Truthless Heroes.
Although dark, the disc was an incredible piece of work. Vocalist Andrew Schwab displayed his best lyrical work to date. The record dealt with the hopelessness of this world without presenting much of a solution, but an overall spiritual overtone was, indeed, present. And the music was much more melodic than anything the band had tried before, but they never lost their metal flare.
So what would Project 86 do next? Why, leave Tooth & Nail Records, of course. But not for a bigger label. No, Project 86, a band that broke Billboard's Top 200 with their last album, is now one hundred percent independent.
The band is again working with producer Matt Hyde, who produced their last album. But, ironically, the new album Songs to Burn Your Bridges By sounds little like Truthless Heroes. It actually sounds a lot more like Drawing Black Lines, their sophomore release. It has the raw edge from that album that was missing on Truthless Heroes, but doesn't leave behind the melodic sound that they have become known for as of late. One thing that never changes, however, are Andrew Schwab's loud, eerie, and atmospheric vocals.
Lyrically, Project 86 is still focusing on the pessimistic side of things. This music is dark, arguably their darkest yet. The closing line on the opener "The Spy Hunter" pretty much sums up the album: "I need truth." Unfortunately, that "truth" is never presented anywhere. And, with the exception of a possible Biblical allusion on "Safe Haven," the overall spiritual overtone that was spoken of earlier is almost nonexistent on Songs to Burn Your Bridges By.
Take "Sioux Lane Spirits" for example, perhaps the most disturbing song on the album, which speaks of child molestation. Does the song view it as wrong? Absolutely. Does it offer any hope? Not at all. The song speaks directly to the predator: "Now she has your eyes/ She can't yet realize/ Your ever wayward eyes/ Will be her demise/ Something you wanted…"
With only eleven tracks (One of which is spoken), and clocking in at just over forty minutes, Songs to Burn Your Bridges By seems a bit short for a Project 86 CD. But what you get could be Project 86's best work to date. Very dark, but that's what the guys are known for. As long as they never give in to the despair that they portray in their songs, things should be okay.- Review date: 12/08/03, written by Josh Taylor.
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