Prong, the New York City based trio and brainchild of Tommy Victor, undoubtedly one of the most influential musicians of our era. A pioneer in the Industrial Metal and Groove Metal genres, a man with a knack for writing some fantastic riffs and iconic songs and a guy who can play with other bands with minimal fuss (Danzig and Ministry are just two examples). Prong are one of those bands who seem to fly under the radar to most and to some, they are huge cornerstones of their music taste and influences on them (myself included when it comes to this!) so when a rejuvenated Tommy Victor announced the release of ‘Ruining Lives’ back in 2014 and the album was welcomed on all fronts, you could tell something big was coming. With Zero Days due, right round the time of the summer 2017 European tour, it’s safe to say that things are going to be rudely woken up!
And if that wake-up call is some seriously heavy and solid groove laden riffs, then count me in those who have had their slumber disturbed. The unmistakable rhythmic precision which Prong has long been associated with over the years hits right away in the opening track “However It May End’. The thick sounding wall of distortion coupled with the booming bass and superb drum-work just radiates power and heaviness and the fact that Tommy has a knack for writing those infectiously catchy numbers just compounds that this opening track is simply an indicator of what is to come.
Title track “Zero Days” brings back that early/mid-90’s industrial metal sound, that ‘hollow thunk’ which hits like a sonic sledgehammer, coupled with the sneer, venom-laced and aggressively snarled vocals really adds an intense edge to the track and the wild solo, heavy riffs and harmony lead section cap it all nicely. “Off the Grid” brings in that Brooklyn hardcore feel which many of the ‘NY HXC’ sounding bands have. The massive influence the drums have on this track is a joy to listen to and the melodic edges to the groove which give way to more jarring, atonal harshness and you get the feeling that this will be a real live powerhouse track.
Of course, it isn’t all poundingly heavy industrial groove. “Divide And Conquer” has some sweet sounding, melodic chord progressions, punchy deliveries and a real infectious nature, lending itself to be potential single material. “Forced Into Tolerance” is a frantic thrash attack with plenty of intensity and “interbeing” is like going back to the earlier Prong sound, feeling like a track which would have sat well on one of the iconic four albums (Beg To Differ, The Cleansing, Rude Awakening, Prove You Wrong).
The interesting thing of note though about this release, is how effortlessly the 90’s Prong feel and sound merges with the more recent era. The blend of the Industrial edge and murky atmospheric touches sit fine and blend well with the more melodic and groove orientated sequences. “Blood Out Of Stone”, “Operation Of The Moral Law” and “The Whispers” all fly out in succession, each one with a distinct delivery, be it the dark ambience, the surging gallop-like riffs or the quick and catchy melodic hooks.
Case in point – “Rules Of the Collective”. This track sounds like it was an outake from the Rude Awakening recording sessions. Everything about it screams that release – the sound, feel, progressions and delivery… and well, it’s a fantastic track which has everything you would want in a Prong song. Even with this highlight, the album still ends strong on a powerful note, proving that the versatility and flexibility in Prong’s approach to writing a song is extremely effective.
Some bands spend years trying to blend their old sound and the new sounds, sometimes it works, sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but on “Zero Days”, Tommy and the guys have nailed it!