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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on July 17, 2009
If you've kept up with Project 86's discography you know that each album they put out is very different, yet still Project. Andrew's voice is as powerful and emotional as it has been for the last six albums, but the lyrics and musicianship brings Picket Fence Cartel to a new level. The album kicks off with Destroyer which is a medium paced heavy song. The Butcher tells the tale of a man who is threating to kill Andrew with a knife, but he never backs down "there is no weapon, there is no blade, I've erased all of my fear of the grave." The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts is an interesting combination of haunting piano and airy guitar. Dark Angel Dragnet is a personal favorite, with a drumline intro, really cool guitar sounds, and strong lyrics, "Cancel my ticket booked to fire, choirs of angels sing my name." Cold and Calculated which has an interesting formula; each verse starts off fast, picks up and abrubtly becomes a very slow breakdown for the chorus. Cement Shoes keeps the pace going for another amazing song: A John Hancock With The Safety Off. Througout his musical career, Andrew blames media for a lot of the problems in the world. This song is an excellent combination of hard pounding drums, heavy guitar, synth, and emotional vocals. Two Glass Eyes, Cyclonus, and the Black Brigrade are all excellent songs, all which satisfy the ears with hard pounding truth. The grand finale, To Sand We Return, is an almost perfect closer to an amazing album. A little over 2 minutes into the song, the song slows before blasting your ears with some of the most intense spiritual lyrics found on any Project album "Who do I belong to? not earth, not world, not evil, not mortals, not wretches, not horrors, who do I belong to? unchanging, unbreaking, unfailing, Creator, Immortal, Eternal." Project's work has never really been embraced by Christian or secular markets as much as they deserve. Give them a chance you won't regret it. 4.5/5 Stars.
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on May 19, 2010
Unlike many others here, this was my first P86 CD purchased. After hearing them live at JoshuaFest last year, I was hooked and became an instant fan. At 52 you'd think I would have outgrown metal, but Christian metal with a message like these guys produce is a complete blessing to an old rocker like me. Excellent production work, thought provoking lyrics and gifted musicians combine to rattle my windows and my mind. I thank our Lord Jesus for the ministry of P86. I'm off to buy some past releases.
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on October 17, 2013
I always enjoy P86. From their first album, I've been an absolute fan. I can't get enough of their solid musicianship, lyrics, and production values. They have a certain sing-along feel to almost every song. Unlike other bands, there are very few even slightly forgettable tunes. This album is no exception. If you enjoy heavy rock music with catchy concepts, this is the band to follow.
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on July 17, 2012
Welcome back guys. After a big disappointment with Rival Factions, this to me is their return to form. I only liked half their songs from Rival, but with this one, love them all. This may be the first Project album where I don't have to use the skip button. I may not be able to define their musical category as everyone here seems to be an expert, so I will just say they're a pretty good hard rock band. Been following these guys along with Chevelle since the late 90s, when they both broke out at the same time, and I'm so glad they have been changing their sound (except for Rivals, too much change, save for 4 songs) and not being labeled as stale and old and predictable. Keep up the great work, can't wait for their album.
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on July 16, 2009
I have been an 86 fan since the beginning and this album does not disappoint...But let me say this, listen to it a couple times through before you decide..When I first heard it I would of rated it 4 stars...After a couple times through I liked it more and more..This album is just intense..And they added a metal edge to the music they've never really done before..And the lyrics...That was really pushed it to the top charts for me..INCREDIBLE lyrics..I'm so glad this band stayed unground..Going mainstream seems to destroy bands..Take POD and Skillet..They got weaker as they went on..But 86 keeps pushing the level higher...GREAT ALBUM...WORTH THE MONEY...
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on December 8, 2010
I love Project 86. I own all of their CDs, EPs, most of Schwab's books, so when the new CD Picket Fence Cartel was about to come out, naturally I hit the Zambooie website and looked for special pre-order packages to buy before the rest of the world bought them all up. But when I listened to Picket Fence Cartel, I was a little disappointed because there seemed to be something missing. There was a quality to the previous CDs that made the distinctly Project 86. Their sound that was so clear and unique in my favorite CDs such as ...And The Rest Will Follow and Songs To Burn Your Bridges By seemed to be missing to my ears. The lyrics were profound like usual. Well, not exactly. They were good, too, but there was still something missing.

What does is sound like? It basically sounds like your dime-a-dozen hardcore track with lots of heavy guitar, machine-like drums, and standard screamo/scream-singing vocals. I wasn't impressed.
(actually, Schwab does more of what I like to call yell-o vocals. He doesn't scream as much as he yells his lyrics, which I've often appreciated, but this time I just didn't like)

I've tried listening to the CD several times over but can only pick out a few songs that I really liked to put on my iPod and leave the rest in my iTunes library. The last CD I fully enjoyed by them was probably Rival Factions (although the following EPs were still pretty good, too, but things weren't the same ever for some of This Time Of Year)

No offense to Schwab or the band is intended.
That sounds pretty oxy-moronic but I just mean that I'm only one fan who didn't like it. Plenty of others did, though, check out more reviews than just mine.

One last thing: don't bother with the music video to Destroyer. It looks like a failed attempt at a Wes Craven horror short film. It just... wasn't any good, in my opinion.
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on January 24, 2011
Having been an avid fan of Prject 86 since their "Drawing Black Lines", I would highly recommend this album. Stylisticly and lyrically, Project 86 seems to only get grittier and better with time. "Picket Fence Cartel" is no exception. I've been to several music festivals (i.e Creation, Kingdom Bound, etc) and Project 86 is always put on a side stage. WHAT??? They are much better than people give them credit. Their live performances rock out. What I like most about this album are the strong convicting lyrics. Also, Project 86 is better served not going secular. Too many Christian bands progress toward secularism and in the end regress into meaningless. You know the bands I am talking about. Plus, there are way too many prom songs for Jesus with worship albums to the moon. Not that I don't like worship albums, but what of warrior albums. These songs by Project 86 feel like you are heading into battle guns blazzing. So strap in, man up, and enjoy!!! Take this from a minister!
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on July 17, 2009
A couple years ago, when Rival Factions came out, I was taken aback by the new-fangled electronic sound that Project 86 took on. It took some getting used to, and I eventually warmed up to it, but it still didn't seem quite like Project. I have a friend who introduced me to them back when Truthless Heroes hit the shelves, and he still hasn't forgiven them for the new sound. He was skeptical and hesitant about buying Picket Fence Cartel.

I must say, that after listening to this album through a few times, I am very happy that Project returned back to their signature sound, with a bit of the electronic influence still remaining. There are several songs that are very well-written, both musically and lyrically. Overall, it's easy to tel that this album was made to be listened to all the way through. While some songs are better than others, there aren't any that I'd skip over automatically. I can confidently say that every track is worth listening to on this album.

I also enjoy the subtle increase in metal influence in this album. There were several times where I thought "Is that a hint of Metallica?"

Project 86 is still going strong on their eighth release.
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on January 18, 2010
Being a lover of hard rock I could put this on before any Christian worship disc I own. That may not be what a lot of Project's non-Christian fans want to hear but this album has so much intensity and worshipful lyrics that it's just that powerful. I have been a fan of Project86 since their first album, however did not love a few of their past releases. IMHO they've got the heart back in their lyrics, and have created one of the best album's I've heard in a while. I mean these are anthems that are written to make you thrash, worship and rejoice at the same time. Destroyer and To Sand We Return are my favorites. I've said to friends that if God would just let me plug in and jam on Destroyer when it all goes down that would be perfect.
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on August 22, 2009
Thirteen years and seven albums later, you could say Project 86 has gained some experience doing what they're doing. And with that experience most often comes maturity. Project's latest, Picket Fence Cartel, goes to show how far they've come, and how much respect they really are deserving of. But they've made it very clear with the theme of this album. With fame comes power. And with power comes corruption. And they are in no way ready to give in to this corruption. The eighth track on the album, "Two Glass Eyes," puts it best--"Fame is infamy."

While not all songs carry this theme, an idea spawned off of this one does carry on throughout the album. As Project 86 explains it, our society is so driven to get fame in one way or another. But once someone gets what they've wanted (power), they end up being controlled by it, to where it is their sole obsession. The question that Project explores in this album is "Who do I belong to?"

Front-man Andrew Shwab's oftentimes genius lyrics help us discover the answer to this topic. Songs like "The Butcher" use powerful lyrics, declaring that "There is no weapon, there is no blade, you'll never kill Him that lives inside of me." The track obviously points out that if we belong to God, "Who can be against us?"

Picket Fence Cartel has some of the most spiritual lyrics to date. Project 86 is, of course, a Christian band, but sometimes oblique lyricism takes away from any meaning to the listener. Most, if not all of the songs on this album can be easily interpreted to have some sort of spiritual meaning. The opener, "Destroyer," tells of the end times, and the demise of Satan--"The lives that you thought that were your to devour, Destroyer, the tables have turned in this hour." "Cement Shoes" is a song that comes across as downright worshipful, screaming "And so we bow it to, bow it to, kneel before You, just like a child here, I'm not ashamed." "Two Glass Eyes" cries out to God to "Rescue me!" "Cyclonus," the following track, opens with a Bible verse, and afterwards commands that "Devastator, Complicator, Bringer of Pain, why won't you fly away." The track following that, "The Black Brigade," reinforces its predecessor, asking God for deliverance from the evil that chases us. But the finale is the strongest, lyrically, and the most worshipful track on the album--maybe even the most worshipful ever to come from Project 86. The track says that "We've lost all our control, our faces fall to the ground, we're powerless to Your voice, surrender to the sound," and after answers the question we've been pondering the entire album. "Who do I belong to? Not earth, not world, not evil, not mortals, not wretches, not horrors. Who do I belong to? Unchanging, Unbreaking, Unfailing, Creator, Immortal, Eternal." It's an extremely powerful song, and even if you're not a fan of Project, it's worth giving a listen to.

I'm vaguely familiar with Project's older work--mainly their singles such as "Spy Hunter" or "Evil (A Chorus of Resistance)." But I have heard the majority of 2007's Rival Factions, and I must say this album is much heavier than the synth-laced style of their last album. While the synths are present in a few songs, such as a little in the background of the chorus of "Dark Angel Dragnet," and predominantly in "A John Hancock With The Safety Off," most of the songs are more metal than their last attempt. With only three members, I'm not sure who they have on the drums, but some of those beats are pretty amazing. The start of "Dark Angel Dragnet" has a very interesting drum piece, and songs like "Cold and Calculated" and "Two Glass Eyes" have intense rhythm that almost come across as catchy. The most interesting part of the album, musically, is halfway though "To Sand We Return," where there is a short acoustic break, accompanied by vocals that will give you goosebumps at one point or another.

So overall, Picket Fence Cartel is a great improvement--musically, lyrically, and spiritually. The theme is fantastic, and the songs help to very well portray it. And it can only be uphill from here, as we watch and see where this band will take us next.

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