Project 86

Songs to Burn Your Bridges By

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This is the fourth album from Orange County rockers Project 86, who started out in 1996 and have had a rather tortured experience in the industry ever since. Having dallied briefly with a major label and left the Tooth & Nail stable in 2003, the band is back together with the latter label in 2004 and back to making the tough, abrasive (but explicitly Christian) punk metal fusion that has become its trademark. Sonically, this stuff is top-notch, thanks to producers Aaron Sprinkle, J.R. McNeely, and Matt Hyde; the sound is dense and crunchy, the chord progressions are interesting, the various sonic elements nicely balanced. The problem is that there is not a single sung melody to be found on this album. That doesn't have to be a problem -- rock, especially punk rock, does not necessarily require melodies. But the instrumental parts are so well crafted and the chord progressions so logical and interesting that these songs sound like they were written with tunes in mind, and that singer Andrew Schwab just forgot to deliver them. (Interestingly, "Safe Haven" actually has some vocal harmonies in the chorus, but they're not pinned to a melody.) The result is an impressive album that most listeners will probably respect more than they enjoy.

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