Prong – Carved Into Stone (SPV Records)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

During my college years, this New York act steadily took a hold of the crossover scene because of their genre bleeding tendencies. Drum beats equally hardcore and metal, guitar parts that veer from thrash to industrial, and Tommy Victor’s outer expression vocal approach won many converts in the early 1990’s on Beg To Differ and the follow-up Prove You Wrong. 1994’s Cleansing contains “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” one of the latter-day Headbanger’s Ball staple videos, but soon signaled a tumultuous period for the band with lineup changes, breakups, reformations and stylistic changes causing them to lose their stature in the 2000’s.

Their eighth studio platter Carved Into Stone comes out at a perfect time in the trio’s career- reminding the faithful that Prong can still shatter limbs and noodle your necks with their classic thick grooves and weighty songwriting. Bassist Tony Campos and drummer Alexei Rodriguez form a potent rhythm section backbone, essential to drive home the passionate industrial-like tempos within winning numbers like “State of Rebellion” and Fear Factory-ish “Keep on Living in Pain.” Victor’s sarcastic nature comes out in the verses of “Revenge Served Cold,” the guitar playing a perfect amalgam of mainline metal riffs against almost classic 70’s roots rock – the occasional solo dashes giving the song youthful charm.

Prong push the thrash angle to the hilt on opener “Eternal Heat” and the double-bass frenzy “List of Grievances,” done in that often imitated but never quite duplicated East Coast way, including the call-and-response gang background vocals. This release appears comfortable – the band isn’t chasing any trendy brass ring, preferring to just release 11 songs that live up to their early, successful major label heyday.

Welcome back, Prong. Now go tour the globe and slay audiences with your metallic wares.

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