It's obvious from Rival Factions' opening track that Project 86 are dramatically departing from their previous sound. "Evil (A Chorus of Resistance)" may open in their usual metal style, but then swiftly slides into goth rock and then into hardcore. But that's nothing compared to where the band jubilantly jump later in the set. Their old fans are going to need to gulp hard to swallow "Illuminate," a hook-riven, keyboard driven number that sounds to be ripped right out of the Duran Duran songbook, assuming Duran Duran were a punk band with goth pretensions. But the real bombshell is "Molotov," the best song the Mission never wrote nor performed, right down to its swirling atmospheres and irrepressible, unforgettable chorus. For utter contrast there's "Pull Me Closer, Violent Dancer," a smoldering number that draws from classic rock and blues, solders it to an anthemic chorus that Dave Gahan wishes he had written, and adds creepy, space-age keyboards on top. The compulsive rhythm and infectious melody will have you grinding along on the dancefloor in no time. A funky bassline and propulsive, off-kilter beats power "Caveman Jam," a song sly enough to appeal to rockers, punks and neo-mods. But P86's old fans need not despair, there's hard rock and metalcore a-plenty to be found within Rival Factions as well, with virtually all the songs tough-edged and muscular enough to sate all but the most fanatical metalhead. What's changed is the album's heavier reliance on keyboards, melodies and hooks, without losing an iota of the band's previous strength and power. Rival Factions may be a step too far for some, but with it P86 have magnificently broadened their horizons, and hopefully their audience as well. Add a new intensity to their lyrics, with several of the songs falling into story-telling dollops of poetic justice, and P86 have created an album the likes of which few have thought them capable.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene