Picket Fence Cartel
Project 86 have been cranking out loud, ferocious metal albums since 1998. Picket Fence Cartel is their seventh, and it shows no signs of a band playing out the string or simply going through the motions. Vocalist Andrew Schwab sounds as possessed and committed as always and the band churns out heavy riffs, squalling solos, and thunderous rhythms that sound live and powerful. This time out there is little of the new wave or hardcore influences that briefly arose on the last album, Rival Factions. Instead, the band retreats to a full-blown, all-out metal attack that is leavened here and there by the occasional folk-metal interlude (on "To Sand We Return") or outer space synth (on the catchiest song on the album, "A John Hancock with the Safety Off"). The intensity of the performances (especially the vocals) and the group's ability to write strong hooks mean that, although they may get lumped in with the Christian metal subgenre, there's plenty here for the non-believing metal fan to enjoy, too.