CD Review: Prong – Ruining Lives

CD Review: Prong – Ruining Lives
All Access Rating: A-

Prong - Ruining Lives 2014
Tommy Victor threw away the rulebook when Prong was formed, his experiences as a sound man at the famed punk club CBGBs undoubtedly opening up his mind to what was possible musically.

Always a little different and usually way ahead of the curve, the daring New York City alternative-metal outsiders introduced old-school hardcore hostility to trash-metal, while occasionally trespassing the fenced-in junkyards of harsh industrial noise and electronic squalor to steal taboo sounds and allowing undercurrents of rumbling, Killing Joke-style post-punk brooding to seep into their violent urban sonic wasteland.

All of this, of course, being subservient to Victor's rampaging, brutally efficient guitar riffs, Prong's pounding rhythmic machinery and the toughest, most tenacious hooks around. Now comes Ruining Lives, a Steamhammer/SPV release that's a dark, streamlined whirlwind of activity, with Prong's relentless energy cloaked in unexpectedly rich and full tonality. As one surgical riff strike after another is detonated, the sleek and powerful Ruining Lives races forward, with Victor's clear, forceful vocals issuing a series of enigmatic calls to arms, breaking through the record's glossy sheen.

Harnessing all of Prong's far-flung influences and aggression in a controlled burn, Ruining Lives consists of songs of sturdy construction and ferocious pace, never sitting in one place long enough to grow bored. Less angry, but still provocative lyrically, Victor sets out to free the soul from whatever binds and oppresses it, exploring themes of metropolitan alienation and self-determinant living as the threesome slams headlong into the bruising opener "Turnover" and its hard-hitting successor "The Barriers." Later experimenting with a new time signature, Prong turns the innovative "Come to Realize" inside-out, injecting it with an "out of left field" riff that, if nothing else, proves the band is still capable of surprising people.

High-speed, high-impact material like "The Book of Change" thrive on pure audio adrenaline, but the title track is a heavy, more ponderous beast that grows more powerful by the second, as do the moody "Absence of Light" and "Remove, Separate Self," two songs with quickening tempos and gripping, galvanizing choruses. Still as disciplined as Helmet, but with Killing Joke's subversive melodic sensibilities bubbling up from the cold, hard ground, Prong hasn't ruined anything, including their chances for record of the year.
– Peter Lindblad

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