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Fighting for the Future
Posted November 07, 2014
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

Project 86 has long been known for their aggressive sound, brooding, theologically intriguing lyrics and no-holds-barred live show. They are also becoming increasingly known for prioritizing fans and fostering some unique connections. Part of that means utilizing the fan-funding model, with new release Knives to the Future being the second project launched by fans.

Despite the fact that Project 86's lineup has rarely remained static in recent years, featuring a revolving cast of musicians around frontman Andrew Schwab, the hard rock group's sound has stayed surprisingly consistent. Knives to the Future features elements that have become expected cornerstones of the band's work: intense, distorted guitars (see fierce opening track "Spirit of Shiloh"), militant themes ("Valley of Cannons"), perfectly placed gang vocals ("Captive Bolt Pistol") and lyrics that lean towards the unexpected and unrestrained.

As the title might suggest, this album focuses largely on apocalyptic themes. The title track offers the admonition "no retreat: there's nothing behind me. We've come too far to turn back now." That line serves as a marching order for the listeners, calling them to soldier on in the spiritual battle leading towards the ultimate victory of Christ. Album highlight "Genosha" is one of the few that deviates slightly in theme, beginning with the mournful vibrations of a cello and calling out the more melodic side of Schwab's voice as it explores a break in relationship.

Final track "Oculus" deviates farthest from the P86 norm, carefully combining electronic, string, and traditional hardcore elements to build an eerie masterpiece heavy laden with striking apocalyptic imagery. Among some of the strongest writing we've ever seen from the band stands a line that could easily be a thesis statement for much of the philosophy found in Project 86's music: "To die for something greater is all that we could live for."

Closing Thoughts:
This is the album fans have come to expect from Project 86, with the moan of distorted guitars, Schwab's blistering vocals and violent, heavily conceptual lyrics. Although it's a sound the band continues to nail, I would have liked to see them venture into the unexpected on a few more tracks on this project, especially given that 2012's Wait for the Siren showed such tremendous growth and exploration for the band. That said, the moments on this album where Project 86 uses their history as a springboard for charting new paths through their endless potentially are very worth a listen, and prove that this heavy music cornerstone has a lot of fight left in them. This is a project likely to further solidify the loyalty of their dedicated following.

Song to Download Now:
"Genosha" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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