Project 86 – Picket Fence Cartel

By Michael Mayer III on July-22-2009 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : | Share

Project 86 – Picket Fence Cartel
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
4.0 (11 votes)

Artist: Project 86
Album: Picket Fence Cartel
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. Destroyer
  2. The Butcher
  3. The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts
  4. Dark Angel Dragnet
  5. Cold and Calculated
  6. Cement Shoes
  7. A John Hancock With the Safety Off
  8. Two Glass Eyes
  9. Cyclonus
  10. The Black Brigade
  11. To Sand We Return

Never, ever judge an album by it’s cover. Just looking at Picket Fence Cartel might cause one to yawn and even when you open up the artwork there’s not much of interest inside. No lyrics, no pictures, just a simple message surrounding the words ‘Eternal’, ‘Immortal’, and ‘Creator’. Then, when the album starts, you are in for an intense rock experience that doesn’t let up from beginning to end. Not at all like the simple, clean artwork that covered the disc.

One thing you can definitely say about Project 86 is they have a knack from writing great melodies and vocal hooks. No matter what style of music they went with across their career, the hooks were always there. On their seventh studio album, Project 86 have yet again redefined their sound while keeping the listener glued to their headphones. The choruses on nearly every song are so easy to sing along to and pump your fists as Andrew Schwab delivers the powerful lyrics in many different ways. On ‘The Butcher’, I’m reminded of thrash metal bands as he bellows the lines out quickly and with such intensity that it’s impossible to not have your blood pumping.

It only helps that he’s singing of a man who is standing up to the devil and daring him to hit him or cut him up because no weapon can kill what’s inside of him. The first song, ‘Destroyer’, is likewise an inspiring song sung in a low, brooding manner of God telling Satan to ready for the end and how he was just a pawn. Song after song is filled with some sort of an uplifting or inspiring message to remind us who the real victor will be and we better be sure what side we are on.

The album keeps gaining momentum with ‘Dark Angel Dragnet’, a song with an already addictive chorus made catchier with an awesome synth line. Then there’s one of the best riffs on the album in ‘Cement Shoes’ that drives the song and the heaviest synth track in ‘A John Hancock With the Safety Off’. ‘Two Glass Eyes’ is reminiscent of a punk song at the start before it jumps to another level with the heavy guitar riff in the chorus. The last few tracks on the album aren’t as strong as far as standing out from the rest of the pack goes. As a result the album kind of trails off instead of going out with a bang and I don’t mean the songs aren’t heavy. ‘To Sand We Return’ also doesn’t seem to fit as a closer to such an intense album filled with memorable choruses.

Overall: Whenever there is a change the immediate question is ‘Was it for the better?’ and in this case it certainly was. They’ve created a hybrid sound by taking bits and pieces of their last few albums and molding them together. Project 86 then proceeded to add an extra dosage of heavy riffs and metal-esque vocals to craft what can easily be considered one of their heaviest albums yet. No, it’s not ‘Drawing Black Lines heavy’, but that’s already been done. This is a new breed of rock that is high on energy and low (or non-existent) on the soft ballads to put this right at the top of their discography. For a veteran band, that’s an accomplishment and a half.

Gems of this album are: ‘Destroyer’, ‘The Butcher’, ‘Dark Angel Dragnet’, ‘Cement Shoes’

[Myspace]

Project 86 - Picket Fence Cartel, 4.0 out of 5 based on 11 ratings

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68 Responses to 'Project 86 – Picket Fence Cartel'

  1. fusse says:

    I guess this could be the first digital purchase for me if I can find a good cheap deal. One of the big reasons why I buy CDs are the designs. (others being that I actually have a physical copy of my purchase + I can sell it used if i need some extra money and the price of digital being quite equal to physical in most cases).

    Excited about this in any case!

  2. The artwork is definitely nothing special, might even be the worst artwork ever (outside of 80′s hair metal covers :lol:), but I still can’t bring myself to buy digital. It’s a curse. :P

  3. David M says:

    So even with the album trailing off at the end, it’s still a 9? Dang. I might have to check this out.
    What was the album before this?
    I listened to Rival Factions and loved it, so I may give this one a shot if you can say it’s better.

    Oh, and I can’t post in the forums for some reason, but if anyone wants an album to review, hit me up.
    My band needs our EP reviewed before our full lenght. :)

  4. David M says:

    Length* Dagnabbit

  5. Yup, a few songs at the end that didn’t do much for me aren’t enough to dock it much. There’s a chance they could grow on me and they are far from horrible. This album is seriously fantastic and fun to listen to.

  6. Daniel says:

    Just saw P86 on the Scream the Prayer tour @ Nashville. Even though they were the only non-metal band on the bill they still had the crowd moving. They only played a couple of new songs, but they held up to some of the older stuff they played. Andrew said that “Two Glass Eyes” was the hardest (metal wise) song they have ever done.

  7. Matthew says:

    Great review. I love this cd. I think it just might be there best.I love that they kept the synths from Rival Factions. They definately add depth to Projects sound. Its a great way to accent the heaviness of the songs.I believe that this is as great as if not better than Drawing Black Lines. I think they have nailed their last three full lengths. I believe that . . . And the rest will follow and Rival Factions are just as great as Drawing Black Lines as well but in a different way. I’m sure I’ll be labeled as a heretic though. I’m ready for the inevitable vitrol that this statement will bring from all those Uncle Rico’s out there that are busy living in 2000. Gotta love Napolean Dynamite.Sorry I’m back on topic now. Great review Mr. Mayer III.

  8. Tyler.H says:

    MM3 can’t review something unless its a 9, its a rule ;)

    what is with him thinking he can take the devil on (If that is what it is truly saying)? even Michael said the Lord rebuke you to Satan. the only way we get the devil off of our back is through prayer. just sayin.

    not that i’m trying to cause another mega controversy thread or anything haha

  9. Michael Mayer III says:

    Hey now, I’ve given a few 6′s and 7′s in my time. ;)

    Oh he isn’t saying that Tyler. The lyrics are pretty awesome and he’s saying that he’s already dead, or his flesh is, and it’s what’s inside of him that the devil can’t kill. Here are the lyrics courtesy of Project 86′s website:

    This man came to me he was looking for action
    Puliing a blade to my neck
    He said,

  10. Tyler.H says:

    ha. before your last sentence i was like…where did he get his info that its the devil? haha. thanks for the clarification, it sounds like he’s just reckoning his flesh to be dead, good deal haha.

  11. Greg Rutledge says:

    I picked this album up for $10 from The Scream the Prayer Tour stop here in Nashville. I like the album a lot. However, I would give it a strong 8. Some of the song structures and melodies seem counterproductive. The track name escapes me but I really enjoyed the song with the serious punk beat.

    As far as their live show goes, they are far better than I remembered. Very intense, even among all the metal bands on their tour.

  12. Definitely agree with that Greg, they did a great job of holding their own at Scream the Prayer. That punkish song is ‘Two Glass Eyes’ which they played on this tour. I wished they would’ve played ‘The Butcher’ or ‘Destroyer’ though…

  13. Brandon says:

    I love this album. It’s a step in a very positive direction.

  14. Zach says:

    I’m not going to lie but I love this album way more than DBL.
    I’ve listened to this cd (and the new All Star United cd) nonstop since last Monday when I got it.
    I’ve been a fan since around DBL and TH time period and think this is there best yet.
    Oh, and “The Black Brigade” is a pretty sweet track too.
    9/10

  15. Dave says:

    I am just loving this album. I like it better then RF or ATRWF. Not sure if it can top TH or DBL …. I think I’m going to have a Projet86athon to see which is my favorite …

    Good review M3, I have to say Dark Angle Dragnet and To Sand We Return are my favorite tracks. Solid album 9/10

  16. The Gloamglozer says:

    I think it’s an awesome mix of sounds! Songs like “The Butcher”, “Two Glass Eyes”, and “Cold and Calculated” recall the heavyness of drawing black lines and STBYBB while songs like “Cement Shoes”, “The Black Brigade”, and “Dark Angel Dragnet” recall the rival factions style!
    ITS AWESOME!!!!

  17. Tim Maiden says:

    I cannot believe you gave this album 9/10 based on the review! I always try to guess the score before I look and I was sure it was heading for a 7.5 or 8. Haha, never mind, I have poor deductive skills. I think this is probably the best Project 86 album I’ve heard.

    And to add my irrelevant opinion, ‘To Sand We Return’ has some of the best lyrics I’ve seen for a while.

  18. I think I may like this the most too, even above DBL and TH, but only time will tell how it holds up. Both of those albums had a couple tracks I didn’t care for much either and TH was too long for it’s own good. It seems to be unanimous though, this is an awesome album. :D

    I also forgot to say in my review that I think Andrew’s voice is the best it’s ever been on this release.

  19. matt_b86 says:

    I think this is an amazing record. The artwork, not so amazing, but I’m sure there is a reason why they decided to have it so simple. I am really excited to see them here in Minneapolis in August!!

  20. Sam says:

    “To Sand We Return” is one of my favorite tracks off the album. From that acoustic break into that bridge. That is intense. And the lyrics lay it all out on the table.

    Who do you belong to?

  21. Levi G says:

    matt_b86,

    The band says the album is titled Picket Fence Cartel to act as an example of something that looks plain or normal on the outside, but reveals something totally opposite on the inside. I guess the idea with the artwork is that the packaging is plain, but the music inside it packs a heavy punch.

  22. samsisdead says:

    “The band says the album is titled Picket Fence Cartel to act as an example of something that looks plain or normal on the outside, but reveals something totally opposite on the inside.”

    It’s also the name of an At the Drive-In song.

  23. matt_b86 says:

    Thanks Levi!! Makes total sense. I knew there had to be a reason behind the simplicity!

  24. sir jorge says:

    I hate how no one can say a negative thing about this band’s music. I guess it goes to show that p86 fans never heard of bands like tool, quicksand, or even ratm, cause they’re still stealing progression, and riffs, but it’s ok, cause they’re one of the longer running acts in “christian” music

  25. Or maybe, sir jorge, we find this music considerably better than those bands (all of which I can’t say I like). No one is making 100% original music anymore without any resemblence to another riff so it’s pointless to bring that up. It’s not like we’re all gushing like high school girls about this band’s music as a lot of us have said it’s not perfect. Just that it’s quite possibly the band’s best and very entertaining.

  26. matt_b86 says:

    jorge, we get that you don’t enjoy p86, why does everyone else have to agree with you?? isn’t that what is great about the amount of music out there? everyone can listen to bands they enjoy and avoid music that they don’t enjoy??

  27. fusse says:

    Well, I have to announce that this after all, did NOT become my first digital purchase (referring to the first comment on this thread). I got a good deal for the actual CD, so nothing could have stopped me from not going physical :D

  28. matt_b86 says:

    long live physical!!

  29. David M says:

    So far I’m on track 5 and I’m loving it.

  30. David M says:

    Cold and Calculated reminds me a lot of 3 Card from Songs to Burn Your Bridges by, though. At least the vocal patterns. Even the drums are a little similar. *shrugs*

  31. matt_b86 says:

    David, I agree, Cold and Calculated does sound a bit like 3 Card. I think my favorite tracks are: “The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts”, “To Sand We Return”, and “Dark Angel Dragnet.”

  32. Brandon says:

    Jorge- Every band gets their influence from somewhere. I wouldn’t say P86 necessarily sounds like “Quicksand”, that’s more of a Stavesacre comparison. I mean if you’re going to pull the card on this band about their “Influences” you might as well throw the same accusations against EVERY band we cover here because they all drink from a similar well. “Secular” bands are no better and they rip each other off just about the same as “Christian” bands.

    I don’t believe P86 “rips” anyone off and they’ve kind of come into their own sound the past few albums.

    If you really want to discuss rip offs, just think of all the bands that wear vnecks and sing/scream, then we can talk.

  33. matt_b86 says:

    hey brandon, this isn’t project related, but how do you upload an avatar pic on here? do i need to be in the forum to do that??

  34. Brandon says:

    Just go to http://www.gravatar.com and enter in a pic. Once you do that, it’ll show up on any wordpress blog you post on (IVM, Buzzgrinder, Under the Gun Review, Christian Music Zine, etc.).

  35. David M says:

    Gravatar.com, my friend. You set it up to the email you put into the IVM information, and the email will link up with the image you choose. If that makes sense.

  36. David M says:

    A little slow on the draw there. And hey now, Brandon! I wore a v-neck for the first show and sang….well…two lines…but still. Why the hate? hahaha. Kidding. But man. I never realized how comfortable they are. That’s why I bought mine. It feels so good, especially onstage.

  37. Brandon says:

    No hate brother. It’s just a trend I realize that now. Just like baggy pants/shorts and wife beaters were in the 90′s. Of course there is a lot more neon now than I can handle ;)

  38. David M says:

    I’ve never worn one until a few weeks ago. I always thought they were dumb, but man, when you’re sweating like crazy at Cornerstone, wearing one of those feels better than a sometimes thick t-shirt, and you can still stay modest. That’s my view on it. And I know you werent. haha.

  39. Dave says:

    I can’t get this album out of my head!

  40. tyler h says:

    you’re right, brandon, scene kids DO suck

    jk. i know you didnt say that. its just what you meant ;)

    neon, please go away, you weren’t that great in the 80′s, you’re just as bad now

  41. Jeremy says:

    I absolutely love the last song! Reminds me a little of Hollow Again and Normandy. Although the song does trail off compared to the rest of the album, it does remind us of who lays claim to our creation and us ultimately…I can just see the end when everyone will fall before Him and hear His voice, as the lyrics go…gives me chills:)

  42. Levi says:

    I wouldn’t say neon/glowsticks need to completely go away. They helped Rambo out in Rambo III lol. Here’s a pretty good interview that describes that album art and some of the songs : http://jesusfreakhideout.com/interviews/Project86_2009.asp

  43. matt_b86 says:

    Thanks Brandon and David!!! I will have to pay a visit to gravatar.com when I get a chance!! Thanks for the link to the interview Levi!! It was a great read!!

  44. Jeremy, if it reminded me of ‘Hollow Again’ it’d be one of my favorite songs, haha. I seriously think that’s my favorite P86 song because of the awesome vocal hook in the chorus. Now that’s the way to end an album (instrumental aside). Still, I don’t find the last song bad by any means. It seems I”m massively outnumbered here on it all the same. :lol:

  45. matt_b86 says:

    Michael, don’t worry, I find the last song very enjoyable as well.

  46. Levi says:

    I like it too. I think if it were a little longer it would be even more awesome.

  47. John Wayne says:

    I think the album is of perfect length. I get the feeling that the band realizes this, seeing how a STBYBB and TH were both a bit lengthy imo. The last two have been just the right length. I love Cold and Calculated.

  48. Ryan says:

    I seem to be in the minority on this one. I enjoy the album, though it took quite a few listens for the songs to really stand out. The first three tracks, the closer, and “Cyclonus” are probably the five great songs. I don’t think it will have the staying power of prior P86 releases but taken on its own, PFC is a solid if unspectacular release.

    Full Review:
    http://www.tollbooth.org/2009/reviews/proj86.html
    http://connexionsmusic.com/?p=74

  49. Brian H says:

    I waited to buy the album until Project 86 came through Grand Rapids last week and I could buy it directly from the band. I’ve listened to the album a few times. In my opinion, it doesn’t measure up to DBL or Truthless Heroes, but I think it’s better than Rival Factions. When Rival Factions came out, I thought, are they channeling Depeche Mode? However, there aren’t a lot of riffs that I can remember from the new album . . . that may change with a few more listens. I am definitely encouraged by the lyrics on this album – much less esoteric and more forthright from a faith perspective than Project has been in a long time. Project 86 has been one of my favorites since Drawing Black Lines.

  50. ChrisAfromVA says:

    So which Project 86 album is probably their best album? I want to buy one of theirs but I want it to be a really good one. The one I’m leaning most to right now is Songs To Burn Bridges By. It would be great to have some input from people who probably own most or if not all their albums. thanks.

  51. I have 4 of their albums right now, those being Drawing Black Lines, Truthless Heroes, Songs to Burn Bridges By, and this one. Of all those I’ve listened to and enjoyed Drawing Black Lines the most. That’s also the one I started with so I’d say that’s as good of a place to start as any.

    I actually didn’t care for Songs to Burn Bridges By much, found it a little boring with too many of the songs sounding the same. It seems to be quite popular though and I saw it on a few decade lists here so I could just be missing something.

  52. ChrisAfromVA says:

    I wish they had Drawing Black Lines on their myspace. Thanks for the input!

  53. John Wayne says:

    Whoah now… I just randomly clicked this thread and see some Song to Burn Bridges By bashing. I shan’t stand for it you hear!

    Ok, so I’m probably crazy since I bought the super deluxe preorder of Picket Fence just so I could own both versions of Bridges but so what!

  54. Actually I got that version too and I’m not THAT big of a P86 fan. How crazy does that make me? :-P

  55. matt_b86 says:

    Chris, I would say to start with either Drawing Black Lines or Truthless Heroes. Truthless Heroes perhaps has a little more “radio friendly” feel to it – but a great album nonetheless. Both albums are flawless from beginning to end. I still listen to both frequently.

  56. ChrisAfromVA says:

    Alright.. so apparently I need to find Drawing Black Lines. Thanks again guys!

  57. John Wayne says:

    If the question was where to start your journey with God’s favorite band, then yes it’s Drawing Black Lines.

    Truthless Heroes is also a solid option if you’re more of a radio friendly fan. Not that it’s really that radio friendly, but like Matt said it’s more accessible.

    MM3 I actually think the Tooth and Nail version is much better than the “collectors” edition original release. I know you’re not a huge fan, but consider picking it up if you see it around.

  58. schlottermann says:

    I started out with Songs To Burn…

    That’s still my preferred P86 album. I just recently bought Drawing Black Lines, Rival Factions, and Picket Fences. I have to say the older stuff (pre-Rival Factions) pulls me in more. I still have yet to find And The Rest Will Follow.

    On a side note, for some reason any time I listen to Songs To Burn Your Bridges By, I think of the movie The Village by M. Night. Weird? I think so, but I can’t help it. Maybe it could have worked as the soundtrack.

  59. JW, really? The new songs on the T&N version are good enough to make the album better? Maybe I do have to look at getting it at some point.

    Schlottermann: Are you sure you didn’t watch the movie around the same time you heard the album? :-P Music makes weird connections that way, especially with memories.

  60. matt_b86 says:

    I agree, JW. “A Shadow on Me”, “Breakdown in 3/4″ definitely make the Tooth & Nail version worth owning. I believe a couple songs were remixed and all were remastered as well. “A Shadow on Me” is probably one of my favorite P86 songs.

  61. Well, guess I’ll be having to pick up that version after all. >_<

  62. schlottermann says:

    I think I experienced the the album and the movie a year apart. That may explain it though.

  63. John Wayne says:

    WHOAH! I’m forgetful. Since Matt reminded me that Breakdown in 3/4 is not on the original then you are definitely missing out MM3. One of my all-time fave P86 songs. Oh, and A Shadow on Me is well up there as well.

    I recall the T&N version getting a little weighed down at the end, but I don’t care the first half is gold.

  64. Saltine says:

    I’m a huge Rival Factions fan, and I have every record except their S/T. I love every record, but I find Rival Factions different and a lot of fun. I think it’s more fun to pick their best songs though. My favorites aren’t from Rival Factions…Either “Stein’s Theme” or “Spy Hunter”?

  65. Hah, so that’s 2 songs that you and matt_b think are among P86′s best that I don’t have on my version. Fair enough, I’ll pick it up. Now I’m thinking I shouldn’t have gotten that deluxe collector’s edition package. :-/

  66. schlottermann says:

    The Great Golden Gate Disaster is also a great song off Songs to Burn.

  67. schlottermann says:

    …oh and Say Goodnight To The Bad Guy

  68. Tim says:

    I only have ‘…And the rest will follow’ so can’t really help. I enjoy it now and again. I found it severely reduced once in a bargain bin at this Christian festival thing over in the UK so I picked it up. Not bad.

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