Prong – Carved Into Stone
Long Branch/SPV, April 2012
You have to admire guitarist and vocalist Tommy Victor for the perseverance in keeping Prong alive all these years. It’s hard to believe that around 20 years have passed since game-changing albums such as Beg To Differ, Prove You Wrong, and Rude Awakening breathed life into a metal scene that was being overtaken by grunge, but Tommy still manages to crush skulls with intense riffs and catchy songs. Come on, listen to “Revenge…Best Served Cold” or “Keep On Living In Pain” and you can’t help banging your head to the addictive beats and biting guitar work. 2009’s Power Of The Damager was also a great album, but new bassist Tony Campos (Static-X) and drummer Alexei Rodriguez (3 Inches Of Blood, Walls Of Jericho) seem to have helped Tommy bring Prong up to a new level of song crafting. The drumming of Alexei is especially impressive as you wouldn’t expect his experience in his previous bands to enable him to adapt to the simplistic, rhythmic style frequently employed by Prong. I haven’t gone back and listened to the entire Prong catalog to confirm this, but Carved Into Stone seems to have way more guitar solos, licks, and fills than previous efforts, and this is perhaps the most striking difference from prior albums. Otherwise, Carved Into Stone contains everything you would expect from Prong—predominantly rhythmic, mid-tempo songs with killer riffs and melodies along with fast thrashers such as “List Of Grievances” and “Eternal Heat” as well as some slower numbers like the title track and “Path Of Least Resistance”. In addition to the aforementioned “Revenge…Best Served Cold” and “Keep On Living In Pan”, “Put Myself To Sleep” and “Reinvestigate” are the other standout tracks that raise the overall appeal of the album. The passage of time will tell if Carved Into Stone has the lasting appeal of Prong’s exceptional albums from the 90s, but it is certainly their best effort since Rude Awakening. Start to finish this is a fantastic listen, and an album that every Prong fan should own. Perhaps to highest compliment I can think of is that when listening to Carved Into Stone you know this is Prong. Not many bands have such a unique, difficult-to-imitate sound, and Tommy Victor continues to capture that sound in a way that remains fresh and exciting.
Since Prong is playing this Saturday alongside Slipknot I’ll throw out a little-known tidbit about the two bands. Around 1997 or 1998 before Slipknot was signed, they opened a show for Prong in Des Moines. As told to me from a direct source, Tommy Victor was so impressed with Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison that he tried to hire him on the spot as the drummer for Prong. Joey, of course, stayed with Slipknot but he’s gone on to play live for numerous bands over the years including Rob Zombie.