Project 86 – “Omni, Part 1”


In their heaviest and darkest release to date, Project 86 have released Omni, Part 1 of their double album which will eventually be accompanied by a storybook and visual album.

Starting back in 1996 in Orange County, California, Project 86 has made quite an impact as a band when you count the 11 albums, two DVDs, two Eps and one live album with more than half a million units being moved globally. Vocalist and lyricist Andrew Schwab has been a favorite of many for years and he has also released a number of books and hosts Pioneers podcast.  Schwab’s voice is instantly recognizable and has that unique ability to cut through seemingly all music conveying emotion and conviction with clarity.  As was the case with their last album, Sheep Among Wolves, the band chose to crowdfund The Final Chapter effort and easily met their initial goals and moved well into the stretch goals which will fund some of the other releases to go into this project.   As they have in the past, the band has released a concept album, in this case Omni, Part 1 telling the story of a dystopian future, where technology has become the rule of the day and controlled by a corporation.  Part 2 will be the origin story and consist of the Brutality ep and Digital ep. The album was recorded at Spire Studios in Springfield, MO with Beau Burchell (Senses Fail, Saosin) producing.

Of all the Project 86 albums, their first concept one, Truthless Heroes, still remains one of my favorites and when Andrew Schwab released a playlist on Spotify rearranging the songs as he would have liked to have had on the album, I instantly added that to my favorites and go back to it often.  Omni, Part 1 is so much darker than anything the band has done before, it is almost unrecognizable as a Project 86 album. Some of that has to do with the added electronic elements in the songs and the overall production which ends up muddying the sound compared to the band’s other efforts which are more stripped down that what is here. To fully appreciate Omni,  Part 1, I highly recommend a first listen with headphones and some time set aside to go through the album as a whole since it works best as a complete story.

 “Apotheosis” starts out with some dramatic, heavy atmospheric music, that Andrew Schwab eventually adds his unmistakable speaking then shouting vocals over.  The growled death/metalcore vocals in the track are definitely a new addition to the band’s sound and let the listener know that this will be a very different album.

“Virtual Signal” has the feel of a Project 86 song with Schwabs’s shouted vocals coming through clearly through the song, which has a dark tone and a good bit of electronic elements thrown in for good measure.  In some ways, the song is a blend of metalcore and the more “traditional” (?) Project 86 sound and should be one of the more approachable ones for longtime fans who came into the album with certain expectations.  Here again, the vocals are a mix with some growled metalcore thrown in as well and in general, the shouted Schwab vocals we’ve come to expect that cut cleanly through the mix on other albums are somewhat muddled here.

“0>1” continues the shift toward metalcore with Grayson Stewart providing some heavy riffs to offset the electronic elements.  Happily, there are not the clean choruses that populate so much metalcore, but there some breakdown-like parts that work really well.  The song does have a quieter section that with Schwab’s clean, shouted vocals accented nicely by some electronic elements.

Being a concept album and similar to Truthless Heroes, the band has some interlude tracks in “User Agreement”, “Trust the Science” and “Icarus/Prometheus” and in those rely on a variety of electronic elements to set the tone.  “User Agreement” does bring in some drums, bass, and clean guitar to back the soulless voice reading the agreement.  “Trust the Science” has all the feeling of a futuristic sci-fi dystopian film with a dissociated voice talking about “hacking” biology and what the future could hold.  The electronic elements here have a futuristic bent to them and the distortion in the voices adds an element of creepiness, especially when the tone deepens and the sound becomes more ominous. I would probably add “Tartarus Kiss” into this with its trippy, electronica sounds and monotone vocals that add a definite element of creepiness.

With its mix of spoken, clean and growled vocals, heavy, slow riffs, and electronic elements, “When the Belfry Speaks” is a good track highlighting this new sound for Project 86.  As if to top the previous track, “Metatropolis” pulls out even more stops, with heavy chugging marching riffs, the clean and growled vocals, and again those heavy, chugging riffs, and in this track one can really appreciate the complex and heavy drums from Matt Marquez. 

“Skinjob” ups the ante even further by adding Corey Putnam (Norma Jean) into the mix as well.  Grayson Stewart on the bass and guitar and Matt Marquez on drums are really the stars of this track as musically it veers all over the place with quieter sections, complex drum patterns and then heavy melodic metalcore. The stops and starts in the track and the way the song shifts effortlessly between elements is a testament to the songcraft.

If the metalcore wasn’t there, parts of “Spoon Walker” would fit on other Project 86 albums without raising an eyebrow.  Most of the track though falls into this newer, metalcore sound from the band but even heads toward doom/sludge for one of the heaviest parts of the narrative as destruction is promised and the song ends to the sounds of glitching electronica.  “Tears in Reign” serves as an outro, post-destruction as society sees the potential for restoration complete with more of the glitching electronic elements providing atmosphere before abruptly ending.

To be honest, I’ve tried a number of times to listen to this album with an open mind, but it veers so far from what I’ve come to expect from Project 86, I have my struggles.  I miss the anthemic choruses,  great riffs and melodies the band is known for.  Previous concept albums the band has done still had those memorable, standout tracks that could stand on their own, and those are just missing from Omni, Part 1. That being said, the overall story for the album fits the overall darkness and heaviness present and is worth your time.  As mentioned elsewhere though, the album does demand an uninterrupted listen and an undistracted listener to fully appreciate everything contained within.

Written by John nJackson

Rating: 8/10


  1. Apotheosis
  2. Virtual Signal
  3. 0 > 1
  4. User Agreement
  5. When the Belfry Speaks
  6. Metatropolis
  7. Trust the Science
  8. Tartarus Kiss
  9. Skinjob (feat. Cory Brandon)
  10. Icarus/Prometheus
  11. Spoon Walker
  12. Tears in Reign

Release Date: February 15th. 2023

Record Label: Team Black Recordings

Band Members
Andrew Schwab – Vocals
Grayson Stewart – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Matt Marquez – Drums

Follow them at: Facebook  / Twitter Website  iTunes / Spotify

Video for ‘Metatropolis’

Video for ‘Virtual Signal’

Video for ‘0>1’

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