Saturday, June 02, 2012

Prong-Carved Into Stone

Steamhammer / SPV

My first taste of Prong came back in high school with "Beg To Differ". With it's mixture of Black Sabbath, Helmet and Metallica riffs it won me over. Lately it seems as if I'm the only person that still digs that LP. Sure enough I too worked my way back and I distinctly remember picking up "Force Fed" on tape and being bowled over. It made "Big To Differ" sound like a pop album with it's urban brutality. The thing is I managed to hold dear to both albums and ended up a fan of Tommy Victor and company. I have not always liked every album, but pound for pound I'll take Prong over a band like Pro-Pain. Where to begin with my love then? Well, first off nobody does it like Prong. Does what you ask? Hardcore/crossover/thrash/groove...whatever it is they do no one does it like them. Period. Even when they were going head-first into Killing Joke territory Prong were still in a league of their own. Like I said I didn't care for every album, but every album sounds like Prong. Since 1986, when CBGB sound check man Tommy Victor meet ex-Swans drummer Ted Parsons, Prong has always played what they want when they want. And no matter what got put out on vinyl it always had Tommy's distinct vocals and guitar playing in the mix. With "Carved Into Stone" I had heard a lot of positive reviews prior to getting the album. When it got sent to me then I expected something that sounded like a mix of "Cleansing" and "Rude Awakening". The album, produced and mixed by Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence), does sound similar in nature to those two albums however (and maybe it is just me) "Carved Into Stone" sounds like a very hungry Prong ready to pick a fight. The band (Tommy, drummer Alexei Rodriguez and bassist Tony Campos) sound as if they are fired up with a renewed sense of urgency. "Eternal Heat" is a formidable opener filled with an insane amount of rage. What a way to come out of the gate with all guys firing! Man, just epic hardcore/metal. After that opening number I was afraid the rest might be a let down, but thankfully I was wrong. The music here does go all over the place though, but in a good way. The best cut is arguably the "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" like cut "Revenge...Best Served Cold". This is Prong at their best when they throw out crunchy, power-laden primitive thrash that whips you into a frenzy! Love it. The record makes all kinds of stops though. There is the Black Sabbath/stoner vibe of the title cut to the Pantera/groove number "Put Myself To Sleep". There is even sweet, old-school thrash in "List of Grievances". So, even when Prong mix up the pieces on an album it all works because in the end it still sounds like a Prong record! I've listened to this album several times now and I'm nearly ready to call this one of my favorite Prong releases. The only thing the album does not have for those interested is any industrial leanings. Instead this is a record that has instant-classic Prong numbers like "Revenge...Best Served Cold". Why I waited so long to try to get this album is an absolute mystery. This is, in my opinion, every bit as good as classic Prong is only with an admitted modern edge. It's great to see that some bands can remain together for so many years (even if really it is only Tommy Victor as the original member) and we're talking about them releasing great music.

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Blogger non de guerre said...

Good review, Andy. Yeah, I'd say this album was an effort to recapture the Prong sound of the glory days (with Paul Raven on bass). Its a good album, an improvement on Power of the Damager.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I finally got around listening to this. Part of my hesitation was due to the fact that the comeback albums have just been alright. My expectations are high because I still think that Prong were the best band of the 90's even though they broke up with like a third of the decade left. This album finally has Tommy and the band capturing a good portion of what made this band so powerful and special. The heaviness, the quirky tempos and the aggression are all there. Welcome back, Prong.

5:14 AM  

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