Beliefnet
Put on "Drawing Black Lines," and wait for the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. At the opening stanza of "Stein's Theme," turn the volume up, fasten the lap bar, and raise your arms: You're in for a roller-coaster ride that would make the kids at Disney cry. This is Project 86, and their second album, which has vaulted them onto the airwaves, is wall-to-wall crescendo-laden hardcore.

Produced by GGGarth, famous for his work with Rage Against the Machine and Sick of It All, with help from Programmer Foo (Marilyn Manson, Orgy), this album is more than just loud. Soaring, floating moments offset the power moments. Their loud, in fact, is louder because they have mastered the quiet. The band is constantly return to the calm before the storm.

And what a storm it is, a museum of guitar noise that catapults into raucous mosh moments. The sound builds to the last track, "Twenty-Three": 13 minutes of scraping guitars played through what sounds like half-destroyed speakers.

To carry a hardcore album, however, you need more than screaming over-riffages. What did GGGarth see going in, and why did Atlantic sign these Southern Californians in a deal with BEC? The answer is that Project 86 has a knack for poignant melodies, and for singing beautiful harmonies amid the chaos. "Drawing Black Lines" even includes a beautiful soaring ballad of sorts, "Star," that reminds one of Trent Reznor's best tortured piano tunes.

Thematically, lyricist Andrew Schwabb makes a go at dismantling ego. In tune after tune, he examines human pride, establishing the claim that we need something beyond ourselves if life is to be worthwhile.

An unnerving track on the record called "P.S." speaks about the downward spiral of lust and sexual abuse, ending with a girl speaking in Japanese in a hoarse whisper under the music crying out against those who take advantage of her.

"This album is me stepping more outside myself," says Schwabb, "reflecting on the world around me, society at large, and addressing a number of different issues. One song deals with pornography and abuse, another deals with the whole `I'm cooler than you' attitude. I just want to share something honest and something true, reflecting on the sadness of the postmodern, post-Christian world. To give people a taste of something real, sometimes it takes brutal honesty."

Not to say that this is the perfect storm. Steve, Alex, Randy, and Andrew are young, and despite their huge energy and GGGarth's help, they often follow a little closely in the footsteps of rap-core bands that have forged the way for Project 86: Korn, Papa Roach, Godhead Silo, Sevendust, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine. Project 86, however, is still looking to grow into their own.

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