Prong. It’s a strange word. Prong. It’s a weird choice for a metal band name too. On paper, it’s fair enough. The prongs of a trident cause fairly inconvenient trauma both on entrance and exit of a person’s body. Blood, gore, agony, hurrah! It has the imagery but taken as a word it’s not that metal. Prong. It sounds like the noise a dog makes when it sees a rabbit. Or what baby lambs do when they frolic in the meadows. The elastic waistband on my Incredible Hulk Y-Fronts goes prong when I drag them over the vast girth of my stomach.
Anyway, forget about the unsatisfactory name for now, this review is about the band and, more accurately their latest album, Ruining Lives.
As always the mainstay of the band is Tommy Victor but the revolving door of Prong rhythm sections this time offers up Art Cruz and Jason Christopher, neither of whom I’m familiar with. It matters not. Both are perfectly capable at what they do but Prong has (almost) always been about Tommy’s urgent riffs and his particular vocal style.
Ruining Lives picks up right where 2012’s Carved Into Stone left off. Ever since the mid-90’s and Cleansing (Reviewed HERE by Lord Carter, master of this blog), Prong’s sound has been built around a basis of Groove Metal with some Industrial and Hardcore influences. Ruining Lives adds some touches of Thrash to that mix. It’s about the heaviest thing they’ve done but also notches up the melody, most of the tracks here have very singable choruses. Tommy has never been the greatest of singers but he’s instantly recognisable, doesn’t sound like anyone else and there’s a certain charm to his nasal bark.
The first track and lead single is Turnover, it instantly highlights the power and the melody that runs through Ruining Lives. Some staccato riffing kicks things off and the song barrels along furiously before slowing it down slightly for the chorus. Next track The Barriers sacrifices the melody for aggression but then Windows Shut does the opposite. It’s the mellowest (by default) song here and about the catchiest; the chorus is a monster and I’m really surprised this wasn’t the lead single. There’s some nice, Anthrax-y chuggy riffs in the pre-chorus too.
Remove, Separate Self also has a big chorus and an enthusiastic riff. It’s nod-headingly good and another candidate for a single.
Unfortunately, it’s by this point in the album that the major flaw with Ruining Lives becomes apparent. Every song is between three and four minutes long (the title track is 4.41 but shhhh) and of a similar pace. Only Windows Shut, The Barriers and, the brutal, The Book Of Change offer any slight variance.
Listening to each song when they crop up on my driving playlist, without fail I’ve enjoyed them. But, listening to this album as a whole, the songs all blend into each other. Absence Of Light, Self Will Run Riot, Come To Realize and Retreat all have big riffs and good choruses but only after about a dozen listens do they start to differentiate from the song before and after them.
It’s a shame because the standard of the songs is quite high and Ruining Lives could have been a great album but, as it is, it’s merely a good one.
Best Track: Remove, Separate Self
6 out of 10 - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there
Listen to Ruining Lives on Spotify HERE
Buy It from Amazon HERE