One of my favorite metal albums from the ‘Great American Metal Drought’ of the 90’s was Cleansing by the highly underrated NY crossover kings, Prong. I’m a huge Tommy Victor fan, love his guitar tone, love his riffs and love his passion. The guy is a meat and potatoes metal warrior and whether he was influential or not, he was adding a lot of different elements to his music a long time ago that would eventually become staples of more modern metal (groove, pig squeal harmonics, industrial elements). Tommy has always done things his own way and carved out his own path, it’s what I admire about him the most. Prong was always a band I looked forward to hearing new stuff from, and with new album Carved Into Stone on the horizon it was a perfect time to catch the new, improved version as they rolled into town to play the Viper Room.
Last time I saw them was 3 or 4 years ago for their Power of the Damager comeback album/tour. I’d also seen Tommy perform with Danzig as he played on the fantastic Circle of Snakes lp, so it’s not like it had been forever since I’d seen them. But seeing as I felt Damager was a little lacking, I was a bit over-anxious to hear some new stuff to see if they still could bring the groove.
Opening up with the off kilter “For Dear Life” got the engines revved up and right away I could tell the band were in prime form. Tony Campos (ex-Ministry) and Alexei Rodriguez (ex-3 Inches of Blood) brought the thunder as the bass and drums rattled the tiny Viper Room floor something fierce, while Tommy’s crunchy riffs got the heads and bodies banging. Old school classics “Beg to Differ”, “Uncondtional” and “Irrelevant Thoughts” got the crowd excited and fired up to hear more classics, but it was time for the first new song of the night. Of course one of the few times I was actually curious to hear some new tunes, they would only end up playing one, but I wasn’t about to complain. I can’t remember the name of it but from what I could tell, Prong has reverted back to an older sounding style and I’m really excited to hear what else they’ve come up with.
The good news is, they continued to rip back into classic tracks from their back catalog. Of course the most represented album being Cleansing, the boys didn’t disappoint, dropping serious ragers like “Cut Rate” and “Broken Peace” but it was the pounding, groove-oriented classics “Whose Fist is This Anyways” and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” that got the bodies moving and the necks snapping. They did a great job mixing songs as they weaved back and forth between all the albums. “Dark Signs”, as well as one of my personal favorites, the highly melodic “Rude Awakening” represented the album of the same name and from the crowd reaction was definitely one of the highlights of the night. As the show drew to a close, the band had time for one more song, so they got the crowd chanting along to the classic bruiser “Prove You Wrong”, ending what was a fantastic set on a serious high note.
I have to mention that the rhythm section of Tony and Alexei was particularly tight and highly impressive. Tommy’s got one of his best lineups backing him up for sure, they sounded monstrous and performed the songs as well as I’ve ever heard them played. Prong were always a great band to catch live, and they looked like they were really enjoying promoting their new album. If you haven’t seen them before I highly recommend checking them out. In fact they just went out on tour with Crowbar, so if you want to catch a great show, be on the lookout for Prong rolling through a town near you.