I have missed Prong the last few times they have played London due to clashes but on the strength of cracking new album Zero Days nothing was going to prevent me from seeing them tonight. Filtering in out of the summer rain, 1st up tonight were burly Welsh mob Hark and although it was thin on the ground audience wise they threw themselves into things with all the conviction of a headlining act. Having seen them at Bloodstock last year I had a bit of a familiarity with the group and one that goes all the way back to seeing Jimbob’s previous outfit Taint a few times back in the day. They hit the ground running with big slabs of molten groove as they peel back the layers of ‘Fortune Favours The Insane’, the 1st slab from latest album ‘Machinations.’ Heads bang along and vocals rise over the top in a clean but coarse fashion. Things are tempered by some slow parts and the band jam away with psychedelic flurries matching the more thuggish parts as they plunder their instruments and throw out big burly riffs. Older song ‘Scarlet Extremities’ has some stoner licks about it before moving to more convoluted riffing. The band hit many different elements from doom to groove metal and sludge all in one fluid movement. If there had not been a stoner all day show over the road at The Black Heart I reckon more would have been here to see them but those here had no problems coasting along on the instrumentation and surfing away on the musical waves. We are informed that ‘Nine Fates’ is a song about communion with the spirits and it is certainly loud and abrasive enough to wake the dead or at least make them wish they had been buried with earplugs. A guitar solo peels off and fires souls up towards the heavens. The band make the most of their time, moving around the stage cast in green and red lighting, obviously in their element and working off each other. Good solid stuff and hope they found it worthwhile after the long drive down here in shitty weather.
I had some reservations after looking up Spoil Engine and seeing what they were all about, as the Belgium band are completely unknown to me and are essentially a metalcore act. This was quickly swiped away as the Flanders mob take the stage and throw masses of energy and enthusiasm into things straight away. The song was ‘Doomed To Die’ and they seemed determined to slay us. Crunchy and blast-heavy the extremity shone through as it churned us up and spat us out. Dutch front-woman Iris Goessens is a veritable tigress and the band seem tight and heavy, co-ordinating their attack admirably. You can tell the Euro circuit is home by the way they get the crowd to clap and chant along but the fact they even managed it proves more power to their elbows. Speaking of which they are thrust up in the air by the singer as she deep-throats the mic snarling into it. There are plenty of moments for co-ordinated hair twirling even if not all the band have the necessary on top equipment to pull it off. Songs like ‘Black Sails’ are asking for pirate puns but the chop and churning frenzy of the number speaks for itself and none are actually necessary. I am reminded a bit of Arch Enemy, Lamb Of God, Deadlock and the likes by this and although not my normal listening go to of choice the conviction behind the performance made this lot certainly stick in the memory. This did kind of tail off a bit towards the end new song ‘Sirens’ being more of a ballad and not really gelling for me and final number ‘Disconnect’ with sweary chorus seemed a bit clichéd. No denying the chops and vocal prowess here in the slightest though.
So much for supporting the supports, just before Prong an absolute flood of people come through the doors and the place is suddenly rammed. As soon as the power-trio come on after a stirring intro of ‘Night On Bare Mountain’ (aka that classical music piece from The Shining) and launch into ‘Disbelief’ the place goes batshit crazy and it’s a case of dodging the blows as vest-beaters get down to what they have been waiting for in the pit. This one is as Tommy Victor informs us the 1st song they ever released and it certainly takes us back as does ‘Beg To Differ.’ I’m not alone here with memories of picking this album up on vinyl in Our Price and seeing the band on tour at the time supporting a little band called Faith No More. They kind of blew them off the stage then as memory serves and it is something they have carried on doing through a slew of albums of which they have flung out four in four years most recently. Bassist Mike Longworth works the stage right area and hits the bottom end with a bruising clout and powering away at the back with what looks to be a streak across his face is drummer Arturo Cruz. You never know how long a Prong line-up is going to glue together but this one seems tight and channelled. There’s little time for chat, it’s a club night with an early curfew and the band seem determined to play as much as possible bridging the years from past to present along the way.
We are flung back in time to the grooves and unmistakable jangling melody of ‘Unconditional’ and everyone stomps along in time and bounces up and down on the spot. The lead lined thump of ‘Eternal Heat’ complete with squealing riffs and fiery vocals does the business and rides roughshod over things. The short sharp and pumping rhythm of ‘Another Worldly Device’ hits the spot and gets heads banging and of course song of every metal club ever gone to ‘Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck’ does just as described. I would have liked some more songs from the new album but as it is not out yet, something I had forgotten when asking for it at the merch desk, it would probably have been wrong filling the set with songs people didn’t know yet. Still there’s time to launch one song ‘Divide And Conquer’ a surprisingly upbeat number with a catchy as hell chorus and one I say again really reminds of Therapy? It seems like most people know it and it goes down very well too. Time to bruise is running thin on the ground now but a flurry of wrecking is induced with ‘Revenge… Best Served Cold.’ Ending it all it’s down to the strange and sinister ‘3rd From The Sun’ which really does send shivers down the spine and causes a conversation outside about the original which I did not realise was done by 70’s San Fran outfit Chrome. It’s a great way to go out and the song is embedded in my head on waking and I have a feeling it’s gonna be stuck there for days. Prong made me realise what I have been missing since Bloodstock in 2014 and with one hell of an album just about to hit it certainly isn’t a case of Zero Days yet for Tommy Victor and crew.
(Review and Photos Pete Woods)