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Project 86’s Penultimate Album Is Some Of Its Best Work To Date

In May 2021, almost two years ago, the members of Project 86 announced the band had started work on its final album.  The announcement came to a shock to many, considering that the band had only been in existence for 25 years.  However, in that time, it had released a total of 10 albums.  For most bands, releasing 10 albums takes much longer.  What’s more, those records and the band’s live shows built a fan base of millions around the world, even though the band stayed just below the mainstream radar the entire time.  That is quite the statement about this band.  Now as the band begins the road to the end of its time, the band has padded its resume even more with the release this past Friday of its new album, Omni.  The 12-song record, the band’s now 11th, is the first half of what is a larger, double album whose second half will release likely later this year, as part of a long goodbye from the band.  This first half of the record is an impressive new offering that will certainly stun audiences in the best way possible.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content featured in this record is just as much of note as the record’s musical arrangements and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make Omni a powerful penultimate offering from Project 86.

Omni, the 11th album from Project 86, is a powerful new offering from the band as it begins to count down to the end of its days.  The appeal offered by the album comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The musical content that is presented throughout the album’s 51-minute run time is the absolute heaviest material that the band has crafted to date.  The post metal elements for which the band has come to be known are still present.  That should not be ignored, but the band has taken its approach 10 whole steps forward this time, opting for elements of death, doom, and industrial metal along with those familiar post metal leanings for a whole that must be heard in order to be understood and appreciated.  Front man Andrew Schwab’s screams, against the pummeling guitars, bass, and drums come together to create comparisons to the best works of Whitechapel, Zao, and Demon Hunter just to name a few.  Now that combination may seem odd on the surface, but it certainly works here from one song to the next.  The wall of sound that the band creates through each composition is absolutely intense in the best way possible.  Even in the album’s more subtle moments that lean back to some of the band’s existing works, the band still finds a way to transition into that much heavier side of things.  Audiences can even make comparison to works from Project 86’s fellow Christian metal act Living Sacrifice in the intensity exhibited in the songs.  The overall change shows a deliberate intent to do something completely unlike what Project 86 has done, and it is an approach that is certain to engage and entertain audiences new and old alike.

The musical arrangements featured throughout Omni are just a part of what makes the album so worth hearing among the band’s legions of fans and by metal fans alike.  The lyrical content featured in this record makes for its own share of interest, too.  The lyrical content in this case is a concept record.  As with the record’s musical arrangements, taking the chance to create a concept record is something else that Project 86 has never done, either.  The story overall is rather in-depth.  In the simplest terms possible, the story is one of the influence of technology on mankind.  Now on the surface, a person’s mind might automatically go to a comparison to albums from the likes of Fear Factory and other acts who have taken to writing about the negative impact of machines on mankind.  Project 86 has not gone that route here.  Rather, this story plays out like some kind of melancholy futuristic drama that does not end well.  According to information provided about the story, technology has reached the point at which humans can now be immortal.  Yes, immortal.  However, that immortality has come at a great price.  Humans have essentially become plugged into a network of sorts that brings together the physical and digital world, in essence putting their consciousnesses partly in the real world and partly in the digital realm.  Sounding familiar?  It should, because science is slowly reaching that point in the real world.  Man and machine have finally merged, allowing humans to live on even after their bodies are gone.  The Augment, the technology that has brought about this merging of man and machine, has brought out the evil in humans.  As is noted in press material about the album, “Without the fear of the ultimate consequence (death), the true, dark nature of man becomes evident.  Violence and anarchy begin to spread like yeast through dough…The story culminates with the narrator inviting a malicious AI (spirit) into his body, setting off a chain reaction of unimaginable horror on a massive scale.”  It is a dark story, and one not necessarily unfamiliar to audiences, but certainly original in its approach.  That being the case, it makes for its own engagement and entertainment among the band’s established audiences and among metal fans alike.  It is hardly a happy story, but this allegory warning the world of where we are headed very quickly will hopefully resonate with every person who gives the story a chance.

The familiar metaphorical language that Schwab has used in telling the story through each song adds even more to that depth and impact.  The mention of retaking Eden in the album’s opener, ‘Apotheosis’ and being replaced by an algorithm is a powerful statement about how people fail to see the long term impact of what they are letting happen through technology.  Later in ‘User Agreement,’ Schwab writes of how people’s identities have become property of a company and its proprietaries through that reliance on technology, making for another powerful statement as part of the overall story.  That moment when the narrator merges with the AI is displayed in ‘Tartarus Kiss,’ with the AI convincing the man, “I can be whatever you want me to be/Just say the word and as one we merge.”  Knowing Project 86’s Christian metal background, it would be easy to compare this moment to Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wild.  Sadly, in this case, the narrator allowed the AI to merge with him, leading to a very negative result.  It is just one more example of the power of the album’s lyrical content.  All things considered the lyrical content featured in this album makes for just as much impact as the album’s musical content.  When it is paired with the noted musical material, the whole increases the engagement and entertainment for listeners even more.

Knowing how much impact Omni’s overall lyrical content has on its general presentation, it is just one more positive aspect of the record.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  That is especially considering the heaviness of each of the album’s songs.  There is so much going on in each song in terms of the vocals, instrumentation, and secondary elements, such as electronics that it would have been easy for each musician to overpower his fellow performer.  The attention paid to each detail thankfully avoids that issue.  The result is a powerhouse presentation whose overall general effect will do just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the content itself.  When the production that went into this record is considered along with the album’s content, the whole makes Omni one of the best records that Project 86 has produced to date and one of the best hard rock and metal albums of 2023 so far.

Omni, the penultimate album from Project 86, is a powerful new offering from the Christian metal band if not its best to date.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements take Project 86 in a direction little taken throughout its catalog.  The band has produced some heavy songs throughout its catalog, but none to the intensity of this record.  That is because of the approach taken.  There is more death, doom and industrial influence here than anything else.  It creates a surprising and surprisingly engaging musical presentation.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content is just as heavy as that material.  That is because of the topic that the band takes on here.  It is a familiar hard rock and metal topic, what with the path that technology has set out for humans the world over.  The approach that the band takes here is totally unlike what any other band has done when taking on this topic of technology’s role on humans’ fate.  The production that went into this album puts the finishing touch to this presentation.  It ensures the best of each of the band members’ work shines in each song.  The positive general effect that results from that production completes the presentation here and makes Omni one of Project 86’s best albums to date and one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums so far.

Omni is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Project 86’s latest news at: