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Prong - Ruining Lives

Label: Steamhammer/SPV
Format: CD
Released: 2014
Reviewed By: James Rausse
Rating: 7.25/ 10


Dance Metal. NYHC Crossover. Industrial Metal. Prong have been called a lot of things over the years, but no matter what they're labelled for whatever release, they have always maintained a level of respect few can claim in the metal community. It has always been difficult to characterize Prong as they bring so many different elements to the table. One of the early purveyors of industrial and groove to all that is heavy, they laid a foundation for many bands to come.

 

After coming back from a long hiatus after 1996's industro-metal masterpiece, “Rude Awakening”, Prong has taken a decidedly thrashier approach to their sound, and we have been the wonderful beneficiaries of this change in course. “Ruining Lives” continues on the same course that albums “Power of the Damager” and the ground-shattering “Carved Into Stone” laid out. There is a familiarity from the first note in ‘Turnover’ that feels like your favorite comfy chair, but yet the album is by no means a rehash. The title track is a great amalgam that starts off with a Paradise Lost Icon-vibe segueing into lush mid-tempo double-bass syncopation then into a thrashtastic flurry. Speaking of thrash, ‘The Book of Change’ blows through you without stopping. Equally thrashy ‘Chamber of Thought’ features one of Victor's best solos ever. Balancing the album out, ‘Absence of Light’ and ‘Self Will Run Riot’ bring back some of that “Cleansing”/”Rude Awakening” (1994/1996) feel that has not been as present on recent albums.

Where I am having an issue with this album is there seems to be a lack of urgency in Tommy Victor's vocals. Lyrically, Victor has always wonderfully blended deep introspection and sardonic humor, but on this album it seems a bit less convincing. It's ironic because he seems to creatively experiment more with his vocals on this album, but I almost get the sense he's not confident hitting the mark on everything. For example, while the harmonies on ‘The Barriers’ and ‘Self Will Run Riot’ are great, they lack an ooomph that complements the music. The album flows well, but nothing jumps out at you. Part of the problem may be that this album has had a lot to live up to after “Carved Into Stone” from 2012. On its own it's a good album for your Prong/early 90's NY metal collection, but not a standout like it's predecessor.

 
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