Not only have Prong always been steadfast and reliable but of late they have been on fire. They played one of the most energetic and snappy sets of Bloodstock last year and last album ‘Ruining Lives’ cracked skulls and grooved on down, raging away in the style that we have always been accustomed to from Tommy Victor and his ever shape shifting crew (currently Jason Christopher and Art Cruz). Sometimes cover albums are a lot of fun, other times they have the tendency to fall flat on their face but nobody should begrudge a band who have been around for almost thirty years from kicking back and having a crack at one, besides if you like Prong you should be happy with the tracks and bands they pick to do the business on anyway right? That’s definitely the case here and the choices do not disappoint. As you would assume there are going to be songs you know and love, others that you fleetingly know and find yourself questioning why you are not more au fait with them and a few rank outsiders from those acts you always meant to check out but…
I was pleased to note there were plenty in the first category here and pressing play rewards with one of them Discharge anthem Doomsday. Bass rumbles and it gets its claws in with some drumming and a thundering crusty charge. Victors vocals are well suited and have the right tones to deliver things and it’s noticeable that behind it all as with everything here the band’s own unmistakable style can be heard shining through. This has the solos, the frenzy and the pogo driven punky blood lust coursing through it. Under three minutes of perfection all that’s missing is a mighty ughhhhh at the end, you are gonna want to press repeat as it finishes but it’s time to move on. The chuggy Vision Thing is a good Sisters Of Mercy choice, This Corrosion would have been too obvious and this one is a great mid paced number that Prong embellish perfectly with their own stomp. It sounds like they are playing it by numbers and make it sound all so easy. The main chorus suits the band perfectly vocally too and it’s impossible not to like. Butthole Surfers are one of those bands I know in part and Goofy’s Concern immediately reminds me of the song, one that’s a rocking anthem (that word comes up a lot here) of disenfranchisement and not giving a fuck. Think you don’t know it? Prepare to be surprised when you realise you do and to be singing along straight away. Nice doomy guitar lines, rabid background screams and classic riffing making me want to go and pull out more from Gibby and the guys. SoCal punkers Adolescents are definitely a band I should know but they obviously were one that should also have been on Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia but were not. Kids Of The Black Hole is a slow burner but really gets under the skin and the harmonic vocal tones and glistening guitar tones really endear you to it, I want more!
How the hell do you chose a Black Flag song? They had to be here but it’s an impossible task. Prong don’t go for the most obvious ones and plump for The Bars slipping it in (sorry) perfectly and allowing bass and drums to rumble away before the jagged guitars and the rousing vocal chant. It’s suitably hardcore enough to mean that fans of the original should find it more than acceptable but if you didn’t know it you would still probably easily identify as Prong playing the song. Killing Joke another band having to be included and naturally Prong were always going to choose a song that involved their former band mate Paul Raven’s (RIP) input. From the ST 2003 album Seeing Red seems like the obvious choice it’s somewhat dour and reflective but raises into a joyous harmonic and depth charge of a chorus, one that Victor has no problems in emulating Coleman’s pitch and tones. It’s one of the better Joke covers I have heard and believe you me I’ve heard a lot!
Hüsker Dü are that band I should know better but… Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely was apparently covered by Green Day (spits on floor) but this definitely sounds like Prong through and through and listening to it the first time I recognised it straight away again, no doubt from clubs playing it. It seems a great choice again and fits in perfectly, for some reason it makes me go off and see if Pantera ever covered it, I could easily see them doing it. Fugazi are an ever popular band for cover treatment and ‘Give Me The Cure’ is classic from Ian MacKaye’s expansive repertoire. I am always wanting someone to do Walken’s Syndrome but this slow building number builds neatly and allows the jagged guitar parts to really hit the groove. Bad Brains another classic band and Banned In D.C. is one of many superb songs and a good one for raging along too. Can Victor sing as fast and hit the high notes like HR? Well he has a damn good try and it’s the song on the album I most want them to play live as I know I’m gonna really hurt myself in the pit when they do.
So far so excellent until after a supercharged album of absolute bangers they go and cover Neil Young’s Cotez The Killer a slow ponderous, overlong boring plodder. They must have their reasons but for me the album finishes the track before and they lose a half point for this self indulgent yawner. Besides, The Mission doing Like A Hurricane is the only cover version ever needed of Neil Young’s work as far as I’m concerned and boy is this tedious. Still don’t let this grumble put you off as this is on the whole an excellent and fun album from Prong and they are allowed to blunt a spoke now and then!
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)