SPV www.spv.de [Release date 05.02.16]
Formed in New York City in 1986, Prong are a band that has flew under the radar to many in years gone by. The typical 80s thrash metal band also include many aspects of hardcore punk in their music, pioneering a style which influenced many other notable bands to this day. Korn’s Jonathan Davis listed them as an influence on the band’s musical style as did Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor.
Being held in such high regard by two widely popular bands it’s ridiculous how many people haven’t heard of Prong based on merit alone. The band have released 12 albums to date and their latest release “X – No Absolutes” marks their 13th and potentially biggest album to date.
The album opens with the song “Ultimate Authority” and it instantly sets about stamping its authority on you. The three-piece set off with a classical hardcore punk anthem. Front-man and only founding member still in the band, Tommy Victor as any Prong listener would know has ‘that’ classical punk voice with a bit of added bite which drives every song home. “Ultimate Authority” is no different, coupled with his guitar work brings around a brilliant opener to this album.
Following this we have “Sense of Ease”, which brings a faster, more thrashing song. This song in particular reminds me of Slayer between the fast, driven vocals and the sheer speed of Art Cruz’s drumming certainly in the opening of the song.
However the difference between this song and the album’s opener is that in the opener the bass lines of Jason Christopher are a fair bit more obvious with him taking more of a subtle approach in the second song. The main strength of this song is its sheer power in speed, it will occasionally break down into a crunching riff or two but this is one of the songs from the album I can imagine a crowd erupting to. This will definitely become a fan favourite for live performances.
Third up we have “Without Words” which opens with a very thrashy riff, this song is just one of the examples of the growth of Tommy Victor’s vocal ability of the last few albums. He maintains his trademark sound but has refined it to become even more impressive.
Even whilst writing this and listening along (I paused here) I find myself nodding my head in time (And again here, this is becoming infectious) to the point I have to stop writing because I’m just getting lost (Okay, seriously now this is ridiculous) in the music with this song. Somewhere between the second and third pause I even started singing along. This song has stuck with me for some a very obvious reason, it’s brilliant!
Moving on…. we now have “Cut and Dry”. This song, if you’re like me will leave you with no neck relief, you’re more likely to develop a mild strain of whiplash! The main stand out part of this song is the solo which just drives this song even further. This features a more eminent bassline, better accompanying the guitar on this piece.
Afterwards we have the title track “No Absolutes” which provides us a crunchy yet catchy song. Another song which I feel would go down brilliantly live. It’s a song which easily will connect to Prong’s fans.
In our sixth song is “Do Nothing”, a lot of praise has to go to Victor for his vocal work on this piece which again, is testament to his growth as a vocalist. Especially in adapting to something this different. Something which any professional vocalist wil know is no easy thing and should definitely not be disregarded as an easy feat. At times this song comes off as ballad-esque, something which Prong’s fans years ago will not have envisioned. This song changes from subtlety to full on a few times through this song and is one of the stand out songs from the album.
Next along is “Belief System” which comes along like a freight train. It begins in a way that strikes me as more modern possibly through the drums. It’s a song which reminds me of a few other songs, perhaps you reading this knows exactly what I’m thinking about and can let me know.
One of the particular strengths of this song is the parts which Victor’s vocals and his guitar synchronise which with each word just feels like a punch in the face. To call this song powerful is a massive understatement. As we get further along into the album we then have “Soul System”, reminiscent of Prong’s older material. It reminds me a lot of a blend of “Revenge… Best Served Cold” (2012) and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” (1994). Something which should please both old and new fans.
Ninth on the album we have “In Spite of Hindrances” showcasing another driving punk-thrash fusion classic of Prong. This song does not give you any break whatsoever, bringing back around the thoughts of purchasing a neck brace from eBay, a nifty £3.50 bargain at that! Perhaps Prong can brand them and sell them prior to their shows, I’m relatively sure there’s money in that.
Following this we have “Ice Runs Through My Veins”, this presents another softer version of Prong. This is one of the only songs, if not the only song on the album which I feel didn’t strike me at first. I don’t know why but it just didn’t hit me in the way the other songs did.
11th on the album is “Worth Pursuing” which takes up where we should’ve left off after “In Spite of Hindrances”, a face melting, head banging thrash song. This song I can easily guess is a punishing endeavor for Cruz, the band’s drummer. His kit throughout this song is firing on all cylinders in traditional hardcore punk fashion.
Second to last we have “With Dignity”, another song which begins fairly slowly but eventually kicks up to pace. Once this song starts going we find ourselves amidst head spinning pieces of guitar work from Victor who is also just showing off his vocal prowess. This song for me starts a little slow but the slow start eventually pays off and fits the type of song that it is as a whole.
One of the best songs on this album of course is the last! “Universal Law”, listed as a bonus track sets off in a bouncy fashion. It reminds me of fellow thrashers Havok. This song is the one I would probably enjoy most of all live, it has the potential to become one of Prong’s biggest songs and I cannot praise it enough. Throughout the entire track everything is perfectly weighted and timed which shows exactly the class and experience this band has developed over many year when pitted against many newer bands trying to break through into the scene.
As a whole this album is a very good piece of work from Prong, it demonstrates both the ability of the band to evolve and execute other techniques whilst adding extra elements to their music whilst still retaining their classical style and sound. This album has the ability to propel Prong further into the limelight and add more members to their growing fanbase. This could very well be their biggest album yet. ****
Review by Dillon Grant
Prong play their only UK appearance at London’s Camden Underworld on the 26th of March this year.
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