Wow. What just happened? Talk about an album handing your ass to you and leaving you with two black eyes to boot.
Prong is back with Carved Into Stone, an album that is almost like Prong’s version of Slayer. Hard charge and no bullshit from “Eternal Heat” all the way through to the caveman power stomp of “Reinvestigate”, this one is a must have. Power Of The Damager was an amazing release for Prong, really setting the band back on its’ feet, but Carved Into Stone is an even more serious blessing for fans. If this is the last Prong album ever (hopefully not, but…) it would be a capstone that distills Prong to the raw essence, inarguably showing all the skill Victor wields as a guitarist and aggressive songwriter.
Prong’s Tommy Victor has been a metal lifer for ages, a pioneering veteran with calloused fingertips, a grim look in his eye and countless shows under his belt. As the driving force behind his classic Industrial/Thrash/Hardcore/Alternative crossover act, he has inspired everyone from Korn to Demon Hunter to Ministry (the last of which Victor actually plays in now). But while Tommy has kicked ass of late on the latest Ministry releases, collaborating on a Soulfly song or the crucial recent Danzig release Deth Red Sabaoth, it is Prong which will always be the most “Tommy” (not a Who reference) of anything Victor plays on.
I recently wrote a piece for another site on Mindless Self Indulgence and mentioned how they had made a huge dent on pop culture even though no one gives them credit. Some keyboard jockey on a Facebook thread snarked at that claim that they are “underground” and no one knows them so they aren’t influential. Way to miss the point! Get this…Prong (or Crowbar) will always be underground, for example, and yet the world musical landscape would be so much different without their contributions. You don’t have to be the one who gets all the glory to be the one ripped off a lot by successors.
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“Revenge Served Cold” is a call to arms and a reclaiming of the classic Cleansing sound that rocked the metal world. The beat is practically the same as “Whose Fist Is This Anyway?”, but the song stands on its’ own merits. “Ammunition” and the title track are rolling and thunderous. You can really hear Victor’s mastery of different tempos used to maximum effect on this album, especially the blistering speed attack of “Eternal Heat” (which almost gives “Cut-Rate” a run for its’ money).
Producer Steve Evetts has really helped capture the full power of a band that is as good as they have ever been, even this late into a career fraught with ups and downs (plus personnel change). The churning, melodic and dissonant charge of “Keep On Living In Pain” even celebrates the harder road traveled that is Victor’s badge of honor. Tommy’s hoarse NY sing/speak claims he is “Without potential for success” before classic gang vocals set up the hook. The song goes on to make a strong argument for doing what you believe regardless of mainstream acclaim.
Tony Campos (Static-X, Soulfly) and Alexei Rodriguez (3 Inches Of Blood) are great additions to the Prong family tree and shine here throughout, but at the end of the days it is Victor’s recipe. This is a guy doing what he knows how to do best and not only not dialing it in or not fucking it up but cementing further proof that we are witnessing metal legacy. Destined to be one of the best of 2012 for sure.