Project 86 – Wait for the Siren

By Lee Brown on August-19-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , , , , | Share

Project 86 – Wait for the Siren
Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/55
4.7 (18 votes)

Artist:  Project 86
Title: Wait for the Siren
Label: Independent
Release Date: 08/21/12
Reviewer: Lee Brown

Tracklisting: 

  1. Fall, Goliath Fall
  2. SOTS
  3. Omerta’s Sons
  4. Off the Grid
  5. New Transmission
  6. The Crossfire Gambit
  7. Blood Moon
  8. Defector
  9. Ghosts of Easter Rising
  10. Above the Desert Sea
  11. Avalantia
  12. Take the Hill
  13. Wait for the Siren

In 1998, the music world was falling in love with Aerosmith’s newest hit “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” The Backstreet Boys were soaring to the height of their popularity, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra was leading a pack of bands trying to bring swing and rockabilly back into the zeitgeist. Far more importantly, however, 1998 was the year that a little band from California named Project 86 released their self-titled, debut album. Project 86 was a “rapcore” meets hard rock album produced by a fledgling Christian label that was itself just finding its stride. In light of this, if you were a fan of the music industry at that time trying to guess which band the music world would still be talking about in 2012, you’d probably have guessed wrong.

Almost a decade and a half later and having watched “hit” bands come and go like lightening flashing across the sky, Project 86 remains a dominant force with little sign of slowing down. Despite having weathered label issues, band member changes, and everything else the music industry could throw, Andrew Schwab and company find themselves set to release yet another awe-inspiring album certain to further establish their legacy as one of the most tragically underrated bands this world has to offer.

Perhaps the biggest reason P86 is able to remain relevant while their peers have slipped away one by one is that they very quickly found their core “sound,” but never shied away from playing closer to the fringes of that sound than most bands are comfortable with. So, while many other bands find a signature vibe and then produce cookie-cutter albums until oblivion, Project finds new and innovative ways to produce diverse and yet somehow signature soundscapes for each album.

It should be no surprise, then, that Wait for the Siren builds upon the epic sound Project 86 has formed over the years and yet it takes the band to places they’ve never gone before. As frontman Andrew Schwab hinted at in his exclusive interview with IVM, the band added a hammered dulcimer player, an Uilleann piper, and a mandolin player into the mix for this new album. Add to that the fact that more guest artists were featured in the recording process than ever before (see the interview linked above for a list of the amazing talent that helped form this album), and the results are nothing short of amazing.

Wait for the Siren feels a little like a concept album at first glance. From the cover art to the track names and into the lyrics, the imagery and the atmosphere of war time sonnets begins to emerge. Unlike P86’s Truthless Heroes, however, Wait for the Siren’s true concept and backbone is a hopeful faith in times of adversity set against the recurrence of Old Testament imagery. As only Schwab could do, the lyrics double as powerful reminders of the spiritual war we find ourselves in while still in this world.

Perhaps the song that best captures this is “Take the Hill,” which pictures a message of hope being squashed by the powers that be because of its disruptive nature. Through this beautiful imagery, Schwab closes the song with a battle cry that seems to best sum up the band’s place in the world: “Still driven to dispel myths, still escaping the sinking ship, still dropping flaming arrows to the middle of the village, still dodging their attempts, still fighting indifference, still amassing countless numbers as we march to take the hill.”

Musically, Wait for the Siren features some of the band’s hardest songs to date with “Fall, Goliath, Fall” and “SOTS.” It also features some of their most etherial and beautiful songs in “New Transmission” and “Ghosts of Easter Rising.” The  way the band is able to effectively mix these two extremes produces an album that is balanced and completely interesting. If I were to step out on a limb, I’d say that this album should have no problem bringing fans back for another listen even 15 years from now.

For me, however, the heart and soul of Wait for the Siren comes down to two songs. Although tracks like “Fall, Goliath, Fall” and “Omerta’s Sons” are powerhouse songs that demand attention, “Ghosts of Easter Rising” and “Above the Desert Sea” are really what solidify this album for me as not only one of Project 86’s best efforts to date, but also one of the best albums of the year. In so many ways, “Ghosts of Easter Rising” feels like the spiritual successor to “Open Hand” from Drawing Black Lines. Not only is the song beautiful and etherial, it is also a battle cry for every believer that picks right up where “Open Hand” left off so many years ago. Just as I stood with my fist in the air at Creation Fest years ago chanting “Three nails to protect us,” I can easily close my eyes and envision a throng of believers in Christ proclaiming; “By Your hand, we make our stand. They’ll heed our command, and flee this land.”

“Ghosts of Easter Rising” is made even more powerful by the fact that it is followed by “Above the Desert Sea.” Where “Ghosts…” proclaims a bold faith, “Above the Desert Sea” shows what it means to put feet to that faith. And what a way to do it. Set from the perspective of Abraham as he holds the knife above his head to slay Isaac, the imagery is haunting as Abraham cries, “I know you came from me, this blood is in your veins… but to trust is to obey.” Schwab is a master of creating imagery with his words, but with this track I could almost feel the pain in Abraham’s heart as he wrestled with the dichotomy of wanting to save his only son while knowing he must put his trust in God.

The album closes with the title track, “Wait for the Siren.” Despite the fact that the song is almost entirely instrumental (there are key words from the album played in the foreground here and there), it somehow brings together the sum total of the theme and soundscapes from the rest of the album and brings them nicely to rest.

Overall: Wait for the Siren continues to bring a new and diverse sound while still being distinctly Project 86. The concept of the album is impactful and the instrumentation is at once different and yet makes you feel like it is an old friend. Each track brings its own flavor while still managing to blend perfectly into the aroma of the whole for a release that keeps you coming back for more. If you are a fan of supporting amazingly talented bands that are in a class by themselves, then this album is certainly for you.

RIYL: Blindside, P.O.D., A Plea for Purging, Brian “Head” Welch

Project 86 - Wait for the Siren, 4.7 out of 5 based on 18 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Lee Brown

About the author Lee Brown

Lee Brown is Discipleship Pastor at Meadow Park Church in Columbus, OH. He is the author of "Here's How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship," and is also an adjunct professor and content specialist for Mid-America Christian University. Most importantly, he is a loving husband and father. Lee loves jamming to bands like Blindside, Project 86, Demon Hunter, Spoken, Lecrae, and Lil' Dre. For more about Lee, be sure to visit www.KnightoftheSon.com. View all posts by Lee Brown

59 Responses to 'Project 86 – Wait for the Siren'

  1. Guna hafta agree wit the review+ scor. Its a solid album n “they” (andrew is the only original memba left) hav redeemed themselves afta a couple of mediocre albums. Its great 2 c a band return 2 form like this!!

  2. Luke Foster says:

    Good album, i thought this band was losing it after picket fence but this is actually a really great return to form

  3. Dave says:

    Fantastic review!!!! Can’t wait for my Kickstarter copy to arrive. Btw, SOTS = Stones on the Sling.

  4. Brody B says:

    Very nicely written review my friend. Makes me even more anxious to dive into this record more. Just curious though, why did you choose to give it a 4 as opposed to 5?

    • Lee Brown says:

      I wrestled with it. I guess it came down to the fact that the description for our ratings system (as you know) makes the 5 such a big deal. While I thought this album was fantastic, I didn’t feel it was the single greatest album P86 could produce, and I am also think that 2 of their older albums are technically superior. In the end, I was trying to be as objective as possible.

      I will say this, in the hard music category (which is my most important one, lol) this and Immortal are clearly the best for me this year!

  5. ezekieldeal says:

    My only lingering question after listening to this album is when do we get a new Living Sacrifice album? Bruce’s vocals and Rocky’s drumming has me ready for more LS!

  6. Lucas says:

    Loving this the more I listen. This is just the type of album I see making a lot of top 10 lists at the end of the year. Also JFH gave it 5 stars and those guys are hard to please these days. I think they’ve given like two all year. (this and DC*B)

  7. Smacky X says:

    Still waiting on my Kickstarter copy. I have been a big fan of these guys for a very long time and they are in my top three favorite bands for sure. It’s cool to see the new album receive the love it has- this is a great ‘Kickstarter’ story.

    I’ve listened to the album stream and I am enjoying it for sure, but I think some of it still needs to grow on me. Getting that cd will help- holding some Andrew Schwab lyrics in hand while listening to the music has always been a big part of the experience…

  8. Lucas says:

    Question…will IVM ever go back to the old method of scoring? Like maybe add in 1/2 to some scores or go back to the 1-10 scale? As someone who really goes by the score as well as the content of the review, I think the more detailed scoring system helped better determine for me what records were worth checking into. In the past I remember 8/10 was usually good, but there were quite a few duds for me, while it was hard to ever go wrong with a 9/10. What was the reason for the change?

  9. fusse says:

    After listening through the album many many times it’s a 4 for me.

  10. Justin (emergenscenery) says:

    Truthless Heroes will always be my fav. Amazing album. :)

  11. Nick says:

    I don’t see why no one mentions Songs to Burn Your Bridges By. I really enjoyed that album. I mean I understand why everyone loves Drawing Black Lines but the fact of the matter is Project has put out a lot of quality music since then.

  12. Tony Takach says:

    Picket fence cartel was actually a well made album. I liked the lyrics for most of the songs. To sand we return was pretty epic too. I just listened to wait for the siren this morning, and its def a good listen. It may take another listen to grow on me, but I liked it the first go around. I’d have to go with “defector”, “avalantia”, and “take the hill” so far are my favorite tracks. I do like sots with bruce from living sacrifice, but its actually the softer tunes I got into more this time around. I think they did the softer stuff well on this album. I also dig the theme of the album.

    • Kurtis Wilson says:

      I agree. The softer tracks on this album are very well done. Their so haunting and big. I love the slower tracks the best this time around, which is weird for me as a long time P86 fan who usually loves their intensity.

      In regards to the earlier discussion, their self titled debut is still my favorite album. Here’s my order:
      Self titled
      Truthless Heroes
      …And the rest will follow
      Drawing Black Lines
      We wait for the siren
      Rival Factions
      Songs to burn your bridges by
      Picket Fence Cartel

      And, both of their ep’s are great too!

    • Loren Wade says:

      Picket Fence Cartel
      Rival Factions
      Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
      Drawing Black Lines
      …And The Rest Will Follow
      Truthless Heroes
      Self-Titled

      And I love their self-titled. That said, the new one is still up in the air. I like to give albums a few dozen spins before I decide one way or another.

    • Loren Wade says:

      Just realized my list is almost an exact opposite of yours.

    • Kurtis says:

      hahaha that’s true but I’m okay with that cause p86 is one of those rare bands that even my least favorite album is one that I love.

    • TheArchangel says:

      Preeety sure I couldn’t hope to list P86 albums in order from most liked to least liked.
      I have the same problem with Showbread….

  13. mattb86 says:

    Truthless Heroes
    Drawing Black Lines
    Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
    …And the Rest Will Follow
    Wait for the Siren
    Rival Factions
    Picket Fence Cartel
    Self-Titled

    All are great albums, but Truthless Heroes has to be my favorite. Keep returning to that album almost monthly… all these years later.

  14. Lucas says:

    The new record will probably convince me to go back over their entire discography, but in general I’ve never been the biggest P86 fan. Of all their records I’ve definitely enjoyed this one the most as well as Drawing Black Lines and …And the Rest Will Follow. I should also probably put Picket Fence Cartel as an honorable mention since it’s the only P86 album I actually own. (until I pick up this one) :)

  15. Tim Rice says:

    First of all, excellent review, though I’m surprised Off the Grid wasn’t mentioned, since it has one of the best guitar riffs I’ve ever heard and is just an amazing song in general!

    As far as the ranking albums thing goes, I try not to do it too often, especially with a band like P86 since all their albums have been good offerings. However, allowing for some ties, as some of these don’t deserve to be ranked above or below others, here is how I would rank them.

    Truthless Heroes
    Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
    Drawing Black Lines/And the Rest Will Follow
    Wait for the Siren
    Rival Factions
    Picket Fence Cartel
    Self Titled

    As mattb86 said above, there is just something about TH that keeps bringing me back to listen to it after all these years. It was so well laid out, so musically/lyrically inspired, and so well produced that I can’t go too long without listening to that album. Regardless, Project 86 is a phenomenal band, and they haven’t put out a “bad” or even “poor” album in their incredibly long careers, so hats off to them, and here’s to more great music to come! =)

  16. Tim Rice says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention Defector in my previous comment! Another standout track that was not mentioned in the review.

    • Lee Brown says:

      Sorry man. There were so many good tracks on the album that I had a really difficult time picking what should be singled out. In the end, I picked the two that spoke to me the most.

  17. Lee Brown says:

    Let’s also not forget the Christmas CD and the Kane Mutiny. Although they are not a part of the “proper” canon of P86 jams, both are amazing and offer something different, new, and refreshing.

  18. V4NCE says:

    STILL,
    DROPPING FLAMING ARROWS… to the middle of the VILLAGE

  19. V4nce says:

    Still,
    Dropping flaming arrows to the middle of the VILLAGE

  20. Lee Brown says:

    Spoiler, this takes my top pick for our staff “Best of 2012″ list. It really is that good.

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