Picket Fence Cartel
- Reviewed by Andrea Dawn Goforth Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2009 14 Jul
- The Butcher
- The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts
- Dark Angel Dragnet
- Cold and Calculated
- Cement Shoes
- A John Hancock with the Safety Off
- Two Glass Eyes
- The Black Brigade
- To Sand We return
Thirteen years together and seven studio albums are pretty impressive stats for a band these days. For hard rockers Project 86, that translates to Picket Fence Cartel, which brings out the straight-up hard rock sound that the group started with while also exploring a new sense of spirituality in their lyrics.
The first track, "Destroyer," is a bit of a teaser. The sludgy, Deftones-style rhythm and deep, goth-like vocals prepare the listener for a dark, mid-tempo album. However, the rest of Picket Fence Cartel does not follow suit.? Starting with "The Butcher," the album kicks into high gear, assaulting the listener with metal guitar riffs and two-step beats.?
Indeed, the '90s influence on this album is undeniable. "Cold and Calculated" is a perfect mesh of the fast-paced punk pulsings of The Offspring with the half-tempo melodic breakdowns of Tool. And where P86 may have gotten sucked into the world of electronic manipulation for a while, all of the songs on this album have a raw, brutal feel.
Another highlight of the album (and perhaps one reason for the group's staying power) is front man Andrew Schwab's voice. In days when not all lead singers can really sing, Schwab's sing-scream vocals are strong and uncompromising, and recall the more controlled side of contemporaries like Dexter Holland (The Offspring) and James Hetfield (Metallica). Aside from Schwab's impressive range, it's the character and emotion of his voice that gives breath to the message in P86's songs.
But the most surprising aspect of Picket Fence has got to be the lyrical content. It is safe to say that this is the group's most spiritual and scriptural album to date. "The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts" talks of forbidden fruit, the story of King David, and the consequences of our actions: "You tried to tempt your fate / turns out it's your mistake / You took what wasn't yours to take, now didn't you?" Other tracks like "To Sand We Return" speak unapologetically about laying down our idols and surrendering to God. Rather than simply throwing in biblical references in order to make the album more "Christian," P86 approaches each subject with honesty and a personal connection, bringing new life to old stories and cornerstones of the Christian faith.
Picket Fence Cartel may not have the most innovative sound, but it showcases the band's hard-rock soul. The lyrical content alone would make P86's seventh studio album one fans should definitely pick up.