Album Releases Album Reviews

Prong – X No Absolutes Review

Released by: Steamhammer/SPV

Release Date: 5 February 2016

Genre: Thrash Metal

Links: prongmusic.com, Facebook, Twitter

 

Lineup:

Tommy Victor – Guitar, Vocals

Jason Christopher – Bass

Art Cruz – Drums

 

Track Listing:

01. Ultimate Authority

02. Sense Of Ease

03. Without Words

04. Cut And Dry

05. No Absolutes

06. Do Nothing

07. Belief System

08. Soul Sickness

09. In Spite Of Hindrances

10. Ice Runs Through My Veins

11. Worth Pursuing

12.With Dignity

13. Universal Law (Bonus Track)

 

 

Thank God for Prong.

Ever since the band’s 1987 debut, Primitive Origins, Captain Tommy Victor has consistently steered this metal ship of monster sound towards its true north, never wavering in the face of a fickle and constantly changing music industry. Through hair metal, grunge, nu-metal, alternative, emo and Metallica’s Reload, Prong always continued to wave the flag of metal for the true believers.

However, when I hear that Prong are releasing a new album, I find myself gripped by conflicting emotions: on one hand, I pump my fist in the air and exclaim “Yes!” much like my daughter does when I permit her to get a candy bar. On the other hand, I find myself feeling fearful and cautious, wondering “Is this the album where they go Avenged Sevenfold on me and start playing essentially pop music set to a mildly distorted guitar in an effort to suck up as many fans as possible for a quick buck?” Prong has never done anything to base this fear upon-in fact, I think it’s just that I am painfully aware of the way life works and that things come to an eventual end. Which is why it is such a pleasure to have my fears crushed under the steel toed boot of Prong’s newest album, X-No Absolutes.

Like a horny bull in a meth spiral, the first track, “Ultimate Authority” comes bursting from the speakers, gores your ears and flings them into the air like the weak little bitches they are. It is an unrelenting track, condensing Victor’s solid riffs, the hammering beats of drummer Art Cruz, and the sludgy menace of Jason Christopher’s bass lines, creating a song that easily stands alongside classic Prong tracks such as “Beg to Differ” and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”. This track alone is worth the price of admission into the psycho circus of X-No Absolutes.

The next three tracks, “Sense of Ease”, “Without Words” and “Cut and Dry”, continue this rapid-fire assault of riffs, leaving the listener exhausted.

And it isn’t just the speed that makes these songs so amazing-it’s that you can feel how much Prong loves this music. Too many bands try to sound authentic by playing faster and more extreme than any other metal group in the world (Upon a Burning Body comes to mind), but it comes across as disingenuous. Prong’s sound has always been so genuine and they have never had to overcompensate or sell out to put a smile on a metal lover’s face. Which is exactly why the first listen to the track “Do Nothing” might give the Prong fan army a moment of fear and pause.

The track opens with Victor singing “Nothing/Is the answer to nothing” cleanly and surprisingly melodically, set to a somber acoustic guitar and a whispering piano, and it is startling to hear at first. Frankly, it reawakened that feeling of nausea that I had at fifteen years old when I first listened to Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and realized that all my heroes were dead and childhood was over. But thankfully “Do Nothing” has more in common with Pantera’s “This Love” than “Nothing Else Matters” because Prong doesn’t forget the metal when crafting something in the vein of a ballad. Granted, the crunch in “Do Nothing” is more Earth-like than Slayer-ish, but it becomes a welcome calm after the pummeling of the first third of the album.

The next two songs, “Belief System” and “Soul Sickness” follow the template of slowing the pace, but not the strength. Both are down-tuned, mid paced monsters that will rattle the hell out your speakers, but they also show how good Prong are at exploring different metal sounds without sacrificing their own influential style.

As the album comes to a close, the last track, “With Dignity” is the perfect song to bring this wild ride to an end. It is speedy, but it moves at a very deliberate pace with Victor declaring, “Walk away with dignity/without fear.” More than any track on this album, this one feels like a mission statement from Prong. They are standard bearers for heavy metal, a genre long considered by many critics to be the redheaded stepchild of music. And one of the reasons many of us metal fans flock to it is because, on some level, we have long felt like outcasts ourselves. “With Dignity” is a solid reminder to the listener that we aren’t alone and that we are probably stronger than most of those who swim in the mainstream. This is what makes Prong such great statesmen for the metal community – we know that they will continue to represent the music that we love so much. With dignity.

 

Written by: David Locklear

 

Rating: David 10/10

 

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