Tommy Victor’s Prong have been cranking out music at a furious rate lately, with 4 studio albums in the past 5 years. While this work ethic is admirable (and rivaled only by Creedence Clearwater Revival circa 1969-70)1, we all know quantity does not always equal quality. 2012’s Carved Into Stone was their best record since their early 1990s heyday, but the follow-ups Ruining Lives and X – No Absolutes were somewhat hindered by fake-sounding production and some half-baked attempts at melody. Can Zero Days reverse the trend, or continue it further?

“However It May End” is textbook Prong, although its mid-paced stomp makes it an odd choice for an opener — it feels like it should be track 2 or 3, preceded by something faster and/or more anthemic. “Forced Into Tolerance,” however, is a total rager, continuing Prong‘s pattern of including at least one or two thrash songs on each of their last few records. For the record, I am 100% in favor of this. The paint-by-numbers production from X – No Absolutes remains, sadly, making Zero Days sound like an AutoTune instructional video and/or a band that would be playing side stage at 10 AM on a tour sponsored by workout supplements.

The rest of Zero Days‘ A-side goes by without much incident, neither surprising or offending, until we come to track 7, “Blood Out Of Stone.” I was unsure of exactly how to describe this song, so I passed it along to my family proctologist Dr. A.N. Grier, who diagnosed it thusly: “Dude, this sounds like Linkin Park” (R.I.P. Chester). Indeed, the poppy melody and keyboard textures could be mistaken for something that plays over the credits of a Michael Bay movie, distinguished only by Prong‘s unmistakable vocal style.

“Self Righteous Indignation” finds Victor venturing into super-downtuned territory, vaguely approximating the deathcore movement at times. “Rulers Of The Collective” and “Wasting Of The Dawn” integrate electronic effects more convincingly than “Blood Out Of Stone,” sounding like a beefier take on the band’s Rude Awakening-era material. It’s worth noting that Victor has come a long way as a vocalist, with a more varied and emotive approach than in the band’s early days. As commendable as this is, I’m listening to Prong for the riffs, and that seems to be one department in which Zero Days is sorely lacking. For years, Victor was the Michael Jordan of squealy, atonal guitar madness, but it seems that he may be entering the Birmingham Barons phase of his career.

The rest of the album is an exercise in duality, veering wildly between Prong‘s trademark industrial thrash and embarrassing forays into more commercial waters. “The Whispers” is another pop-structured tune, completely omitting Victor’s unique guitar style in favor of predictable chord progressions. This song is sandwiched between a pair of heavier numbers, “Operation Of The Moral Law” and “Self Righteous Indignation,” which only highlights its awkwardness.

Look, I have no problem with bands trying new things. Prong is a band that could get stale very quickly if not augmented with new ideas, and I commend Victor for exploring his range as both a vocalist and songwriter. I also enjoy big, catchy hooks as much as the next guy, and Prong has never been lacking in that department — see “Prove You Wrong,” “Whose Fist Is This Anyway,” and obviously “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” But the “melodic” tracks on Zero Days sound like a completely different band, or more accurately, some producer’s demo reel. Prong hit it out of the goddamn park with Carved Into Stone, but the albums since then have sounded increasingly phoned-in and inconsistent. Zero Days is a mixed bag at best, split between building upon past glories and making ill-advised grasps at pop accessibility.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: SPV/Steamhammer Records
Websites:  prong.bandcamp.comprongmusic.com | facebook.com/prongmusic
Releases Worldwide: July 28th, 2017

 

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  1. And Vardan circa 2015. – Steel
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  • mindbleach

    I don’t know why but I’ve always found “prong” to be a weirdly amusing band name. Like it’s the preferred onomatopoeic term for the sound made when someone gets smacked in the face with a skillet, or something.

    • Dr_Fisting

      YES! It’s the sound when Road Runner smacks Wiley E. Coyote off a cliff with a big metal thing. PROOOOOOONG!

      • Spoetnik

        And your two names are simply wonderful LOL

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Hmmm…I feel like I just finished ignoring their last album.

    • Spoetnik

      I been ignoring him since the 90’s ahahhaa

  • So that Prong Bandcamp page has an album of re-recorded classics on it (actual classics, plus things like “Power of the Damager”) on it. I’m intrigued, but I’m only going to recognise things off Rude Awakening and Cleansing, I’m probably not going to be able to judge the re-recordings.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Those re-recordings are “live in studio.” Avoid at all costs.

      • Sounds like Fisting got burned!

        • Dr_Fisting

          I didn’t buy it….but I have heard it.

      • Too late, it was on my Amazon Prime Music for free so I gave it a listen. It’s not THAT bad

  • mspwood

    That review sounds strangely familiar ;)

    • MANASYt

      Right….did he even listen to it? :/

      • Nukenado

        If the review fits and it’s the exact same template, that’s what’s worrying.

  • EnslavedEld73

    I don’t care about Prong, but this guy ruined Danzig. Boring, generic riffs with constant pointless squeals and really really bad solos. Glenn, if you’re reading this, there is a site called craigslist where you could find a guitarist. A teenager with an attitude would put forth more effort. Rant over.

    • Dr_Fisting

      The guy who ruined Danzig is named Glenn Danzig, for A) writing crappy songs and B) hiring Tommy Victor.

      • EnslavedEld73

        Glenn should hire a blues guitarist that likes metal.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I agree with that

        • Spoetnik

          He should retire so he has more time to buy Kitty Litter and chewing gum from the local grocery store.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Speaking of bands putting out lots of music that I’ve ignored lately…..anyone heard the new Rage album yet?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yes sir… Expect a review.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    If I had a dime for every original idea Prong has nowadays, I’d have zero dimes.

    This album may not be offensively bad as Blind Seer but it’s just as worthy of a 0.0, as far as I’m concerned. A total nadir of creativity.

  • The Akerstache

    Got halfway through the embedded track and just got bored. It’s basically white noise.

    Fuck this, back to my new Converge I go.

    • Shrümpelstiltskin

      Dude that new Converge EP is rad. I like those two songs better than anything off of the last album.

    • Drew Music

      New Converge, you say? Color me excitedasfuck.

      • The Akerstache

        Their new EP is on their bandcamp right now, loving the hell out of it.

  • That is one silly looking album cover.

  • dblbass

    Damn. Not what I was wanting to read in a review. I’m still gonna give it a spin when it comes around….Gotta keep my hopes up!!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Geez I’ll check it out as I always do with an old favourite but honestly Ive all but given up on Prong now. 3 duds in a row for someone so talented is not good :(

  • Wilhelm

    I’ve never been a big fan of Prong, but the real draw to their early sound was their sound, as in guitar tone, production, and mastering. This just sounds like a watered down version.

  • Bas

    This makes me sad.. I loved all the albums till Rude Awakenings..

    He needs to rediscover his primitive origins ;-)

  • MANASYt

    2.5…whatever dude…I don’t like “Divide And Conquer”…and “Blood Out Of Stone” either…but the rest is solid! And after a year. I don’t know what exactly you expect them to sound like in 2017. “Off The Grid”, “Interbeing”? No mention? “However It May End” is fucking sick. This album is getting 4/5 and 8/10 everywhere else…Copy and paste and a 2.5 next year…maybe you shouldn’t bother listen to the next one ;)

    • Dr_Fisting

      I’d like that, actually.

    • sir_c

      How many of those sites actually give ratings lower than 5/10? I have seen so much inflation over the years. 8 is the new 2 over there.

  • Nukenado

    I can take the vocals and the oddly monotone chugs.
    But that lyric video…
    I was hoping for some right-wing “anti-SJW” not taking a stance or maybe angry liberal punk lyrics with titles like Forced Into Tolerance, but those…

    To quote someone (I think it was Kronos), you often don’t realize how bad metal lyrics are until they’re “plastered on the screen in 48 size text”.
    “you only see what you cannot get / you cannot get what you cannot see” “you cannot go through life without these conditions / you can always rely upon opposition”

    Sigh… You know, if you want your lyrics to have an impact, make them fit with the music. This music’s pretty angry and shit, so at least make lyrics that would hit with some substance… I get the “don’t be in an echo chamber” message, but it’s delivered in really unsubtle anthemic lyrics that can’t match up with the footage delivered in the video.

    Due to black and white videos of violence being used as a backdrop for a lyric video, I’m forced (by habit, considering I’ve listened to Funeral Dreams 87 times this year) to compare this video with Funeral Dreams’ (youtube.c❤m/watch?v=adtaUUns1YY), which in my opinion is an example of a lyric video done relatively right (if they did away with the schizophrenic editing of the lyrics, it would be great).

    The timing of the footage it uses is off, the lyrics are pasted on there in simple fashion, the anthemic vague lyrics betray the incidents the videos are about, and the repeated inserts of the album cover (seriously, fuck that) make the footage seem like a goddamned ploy.

    Lyric videos have so much fucking potential, and these lazy videos bury the hidden gems underneath. Compared to the aforementioned video, this is a disgrace. (Or maybe it’s because of the shitty lyrics and a less powerful song. Just maybe.)

    • Nukenado

      I like a certain band a little too much, but I think the point stands.

    • Dr_Fisting

      I considered bringing up the right wing/possibly libertarian tendencies I’m picking up, but these lyrics are so obtuse that I thought I’d give ’em the benefit of the doubt.

      • Nukenado

        Honestly, I think it might be better if they were overtones instead of mild undertones. The lyrics are so vague and like you said, obtuse that they leave no impact. This music should be paired with emotional, firey lyrics, not vague kind-of-right statements.

        • Dr_Fisting

          I’m not sure if I want to hear Prong go full-on “Make ‘Merica Great Again” on this or any other album. Even on this one, there were moments where a coherent lyric would occasionally shine through and remind me that I was listening to something incredibly ignorant.

          • Nukenado

            Being the kind of person that ceartain people hail as the doom of Western civilization, I can reluctantly agree.

  • Really looking forward to hearing this album, will be buying it tomorrow, (no poor review will put me off the new Prong) however I do kind of agree that the releases since Carved into Stone haven’t been as good (to my ears anyway) but I always find some tracks that I enjoy. The Ruining lives album is still growing on me. I do find it amusing though that people think 90’s Prong was just about aggression when Cleansing had the superb ‘Not of this earth’ and ‘Sublime’ as well as the harder hitters, which weren’t really thrashy either, but I guess the treatment wasn’t so poppy. Another thing I actually prefer Tommy’s older vocals (mid 90’s era) but he’s no doubt a better singer now.

  • I’ll be buying Zero Days for sure today, can’t wait to hear it, one poor review won’t change my mind about that but I do agree with certain things in the review (not everything though!). Even though Tommy is a better singer these days I prefer the mid 90’s vocals and really miss John Bechdel’s industrial flavoured samples which added a lot to the overall Prong sound. But at the end of the day Tommy Victor and co still have it, in fact they sound revitalised ever since Carved into stone, which so far is the best post reunion album in my opinion, hopefully Zero Days will top that one.

  • basstard

    Live they kick ass still.. Actually reminded me of Pantera last time I saw them.

  • Bill Compton

    You sir are a joke! Ruining Lives and this one kick major ass.

    • MANASYt

      Ditto!

  • Spoetnik

    MetalSucks does not have the courage to review this because they are pussies.
    There i said it !

    ..and the review sounded fair to me.