Wait for the Siren: A Call to Arms
Posted September 17, 2012
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Project 86 has made a name for themselves by sweating it out on stages in underground venues around the country, walking the hard road of Christian hardcore. Their work and tireless dedication to their craft earned them a solid fanbase--a fanbase that served as the jumping off point for creating a fan-funded independent record.
Early this year, Project 86 joined the ranks of bands launching kickstarter campaigns, inviting fans to back the upcoming record financially in return for various rewards. The band easily met, surpassed, and then doubled their goal, enabling Project 86 frontman and mastermind Andrew Schwab to assemble a strong team for completing the album. If fans doubted that Project 86 could top their well-received 2009 album Picket Fence Cartel, the August release of Wait For the Siren is definitely cause to reconsider.
The album kicks in with the crunchy battlefield anthem "Fall Goliath Fall," a track some fans may recognize from this year's live shows. One of the most distinctive and unique elements is the hammered dulcimer used throughout the song. The clear dulcimer tone nicely balances the gritty guitar riffs and gang vocals. The song is a good introduction to themes present throughout the album, speaking from the voice of an underdog rising up against a greater foe.
Bruce Fitzhugh of Living Sacrifice lends his vocals to "SOTS," a track thick with signature Project 86 growls and distortion. "SOTS" follows thematically from "Fall Goliath Fall," playing on the David and Goliath theme. "Omerta's Sons" features a deep-toned bell as part of the percussion. "Out from your shadow now we are immortal, from bound and broken to invincible," the song declares, forming an anthem for those who choose to stand up against corrupted powers and authorities.
One of the most widely accessible songs on the album is "Off the Grid," offering an incredibly catchy hook that fixes the song in the listener's memory. "New Transmission" introduces a slightly different vibe, drawing on hauntingly poetic lyrics and a restrained, mellow style in the verses. Andrew Schwab's vocals drift through the thick guitars in the chorus: "searching the stars for answers, never to come back down."
"The Crossfire Gambit" hits hard again, drawing on guest vocals by iconic singer and guitarist Brian "Head" Welch. This song is one of the hardest on the album, vocals screamed raw over frantic guitar. "Blood Moon" slows the pace significantly, providing a thoughtful and chilling interlude. Here Andrew Schwab's abilities as a writer are brought to the fore. The eerie tone is set in the first lines of the song: "Starts with a steady rhythm under a violent sky--pounding of a foreign heartbeat preparing to arrive."
"Defector" also carries a slower, aching tone as it expresses a longing for more than what is being offered in this world. "Ghosts of Easter Rising" pulls the pace back up, constructing a sweeping sonic landscape with a Celtic sound supported by uilleann pipes (essentially the Irish version of bagpipes) layered with the strong guitar foundation. This is another battle anthem, drawing on a sense of justice and upholding a legacy of fighters past.
"Above the Desert Sea" is another poetic track lyrically, though the instrumentation and guitar tone is post-hardcore brutality at its finest. The themes of purification and loyalty are equally intense. "Avalantia" features sharp, clean guitar framing the vivid narrative.
Although the album is unusually long at 13 tracks, quality is certainly not sacrificed in any way as the collection draws to a close. "Take the Hill" blends elements of the haunting and eerie with heavy percussion as it calls out a culture teaching deception. The hammered dulcimer makes an appearance again here, adding another dimension to the already dynamic track. Outro track "Wait for the Siren" is the only instrumental selection, closing out the album and fading into static.
This project is an antidote to apathy. The lyrics are vivid, intense but intelligent, poetic and almost literary in nature. The album is unashamedly heavy and richly layered, but without being complex to the point of proving exhausting for the listener. Everything from the militant percussion to the Celtic-flavored instrument choices and warlike vocals serve as a call to arms for truth seekers in a deceived and broken society. Central Project 86 figure Andrew Schwab has crafted an epic in the true sense of the word, surrounding himself with skilled musicians to breathe life into his opus (in addition to previously listed guests, the album features work by Rocky Gray of Evanescence, Andrew Welch of Disciple, Blake Martin of A Plea For Purging, Cody Driggers of The Wedding, and new Project 86 member Dustin Lowry, previously of The Becoming). This release promises to stand the test of time as a monument in the hardcore field.
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