Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prong: Not as good as I remembered

I was a big Prong fan back in the day. I loved their massive riffs, tight drumming, and clever song titles. Problem is, I lost all their records years ago, but thanks to the wonders of Rapidshit, I downloaded all of them the other day in an hour or two. With baited breath, clammy palms, and legs all atremble, I cued them up one after the other. "Wow," I thought, "this band is kind of shitty. What a bummer." Here are my thoughts in more detail:

Primitive Origins & Force Fed
I never liked early Prong. While popular with the "I only like the demo" crowd, these two records are pretty boring crossover/thrash. Nothing to see here, move along.
1/5 bloody axes


Beg To Differ
This is where things get interesting in that it's where Prong broke away from the crossover formula and started to do their own thing. The problem is that their only thing wasn't very good. I remembered this record as being full of super awesome, brutal thrash riffs, pounding drums, and dynamic, syncopated rhythms... but playing it again, it's pretty much limp, dull songs that just go on and on and on. There are some interesting moments where they kind of do an industrial Voivod sort of thing ("Lost And Found"), and there are definitely some crucial riffs here and there (chorus of "Beg To Differ"). Overall, though, it's just not worth wading through the boring parts to get at the good stuff. "Reign In Blood" suffers from the same problem. As someone noted in the comments, it's "Angel of Death," a bunch of filler, then "Raining Blood." But those two songs are so fucking awesome it kind of makes the filler worth it, unlike "Beg To Differ." It does have a sweet cover, though.
2/5 bloody axes


Prove You Wrong
Problem #1: using a gay photograph for the cover instead of Pushead artwork. Never a good sign. There isn't a whole lot to say about this album other than that it's more of the same. Long, fairly dull songs with a few good parts here and there. I think I saw them around this time with Pantera and Trouble, they were pretty much at the height of their popularity as I recall. You could definitely buy a XL Prong hockey jersey from the Blue Grape ads in the back of Metal Maniacs and Thrasher for $65. I am not sure how many they actually sold, but one can only hope (for the sake of humanity) that the answer is zero.
2/5 bloody axes


Cleansing
This is where Prong started to be really, really awful. First of all, most of the songs on here are over 4:00 long. Maybe it's because I had been listening to bands like Capitalist Casualties and No Comment for a few years at this point, but four minutes seems like a goddamn eternity to me. One of the songs is 6:11! Excessively long songs are one of the surest signs that a band has fallen in love with itself and has completely jumped the shark, and this is no exception. The other, far more cringeworthy thing about Cleansing is that it has some "witty" song titles that are the definition of facepalm-inducing: "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" and "Whose Fist Is This Anyway?" The first one is just stupid, and you can imagine it as the soundtrack for countless UFC highlight reels until the end of time. It doesn't really make any sense, it's just generally stupid and aggressive like the a-holes with undercuts and Doc Martins that were everywhere at commercial metal shows in the 90s. The second is just as meaningless but orders of magnitude dumber because it is a reference to the incredibly annoying improv show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" that my friend's gay brother used to watch all the time in 7th grade. I am aware that Tommy Victor isn't really Mensa material, but this song is one part douchey and 1 millions parts retarded in a way that I hadn't previously been able to conceive of (kind of like Crazytown only without being awesome). I can just imagine him sitting in his Lower East Side flophouse in 1992, watching Comedy Central and being like "Dude, 'Whose Fist Is This Anyway?'! That shit is fucking badass, dude- the guys are going to flip out when I drop this shit on them at practice tomorrow. I better bring a VHS of the show, though, just in case they don't have cable. Plus that fat guy with glasses had some clever lines in this episode that I think they'll really enjoy... Where does he come up with all this material?!" I can't go on anymore, this is making my blood boil.

0/5 bloody axes

Rude Awakening
OK, so they definitely got a little better on this record. There are several good choruses and hooks, although much of this album was crappy groove metal, as was the fashion at the time. That said, it does have their best song on it, "Proud Division," which is a legitimately sweet piece of pure power groove that would make Phil Anselmo himself weak in the knees. It even has the kind of vaguely racist lyrics that bands like Pantera and Carnivore pioneered (OK, Carnivore's lyrics were pretty much explicitly racist... but nobody knew if it was sincere or just to piss people off). Other than that, there are many, many unfortunate and awful moments on this record, especially when he either whispers or raps the lyrics. Look, I get it: you're from New York, you're down with "urban culture." You don't have to prove it by rapping over your tired thrash riffs. Seriously, I believe you. Please put down the guitar.
3/5 bloody axes (just for "Proud Division")


Rise of The Scorpio
So Prong broke up for a long time, Tommy Victor played guitar in Danzig and wore mesh half-shirts on stage. Then they got back together in 2003 and recorded a new album. You think I listened to this?? Are you crazy? Just look at the horrible cover, it looks like something out of a community college graphic design course. Apparently they have an even newer record, but I didn't want to waste electrons Googling for information about it.
-1 zillion / 5 bloody axes

43 comments:

  1. yeah, prong...i kinda liked "beg to differ" when it came out, but now i think the best thing about it is the pushead cover (even though it is not one of his masterpieces). when "prove you wrong" came out, i taped it from a friend, and i remember thinking that it really sucked. it was fucking boring. then i lost interest in prong, and when i first heard that "snap your fingers..." shit some years later, i knew that they fucked up utterly.

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  2. Heard 3 CDs (Beg, Cleansing, Prove)and not looking forward to hearing more,
    Horrible band with just one good song "Beg to differ".

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  3. We had this running joke about some thing called the "prong effect". It all stems from a friend of ours hanging out in some shitty bar or strip joint (I don't remember which). They were playing the typical mainstream garbage on the p.a. system. As some random Britney Spears song ends Prong's Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck comes on. My friend Dave was stoked to be reminded how amazing Prong was and kicked himself for not listening to them more. That night when he got home out came the Prong records. A few moments later they went right back on the shelf.

    That's the Prong effect. It's like being on tour in some small town were all the girls are really ugly but there is one without a dirt-stache who is less than 200 pounds and you think she is sooo hot. She's totally still a beast but compared to the girl wearing the small Jimmy Eat World shirt who really needs to be wearing an XL she's great...

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  4. I noticed you skipped the remix record they did. Smart move, I don't think your ears could take it.

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  5. Prong is like Pantera (and I would also add helmet). One of those bands that you could like for a month at the beginning of the 90s. They felt different at that time and powerful, but the songs were just based on repetitive riffs, with no melody, with no variations in the vocals, with long songs, all the factors to make you lose interest in them in a couple of days and don't want to hear them again (I have to admit, I don't like Pantera, but I saw them in concert in 1993 and at that time I liked them, but I was really tired of them by 1994, thinking that they were the worst thing that happened to metal). The problem: lots of rednecks didn't get bored of these bands (well, of Pantera. Prong and Helmet didn't make it further than: "this is gonna be the next band to become huge"), and now we are still suffering from the Pantera effect with all the nu metal, deathcore, etc, etc. Who the hell could have thought in 1995 that such an awful band like Damage Plan could sell some records in 2002?? Crazy....

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  7. Yer rapidshit skills suck. Prong had yet another come out in 2007 called Power of the Damager. You'll hate it too FROOT!

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  8. Dude, Piece by Piece =/= "filler"

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  9. The difference is that I can still listen to the old Helmet albums, whereas the same cannot be said for Prong. Well, to be honest, I could never listen to Prong.

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  10. The 4 minute mark seems to make this sort of thing so withering, i think power-groove would be a lot more palatable if it took a leaf from the powerviolence school of thought and just grooved the best riff for like 20 seconds.

    Then again they may just suck, but at least id be 3:40 seconds less bored!

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  11. This blog is a heluva funny. I have nothing to say about Prong; I hated them back in the 90s, but keep the Reign in Blood bashing to a minimum and I'll keep reading...

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  12. the song "rude awakening" is awesome

    i like prong better than any other mainstream "meta" early/mid 90s shit

    though thats not sayin much

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  13. Most of the Slayer songs written by King are fillers...what can you expect from a tattooed bald body builder who wrote seven lyrics (childish rants against religion, very probably) and go saying in the press: "I've got seven new songs...but I've not written a single note, yet"!

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  14. Rude Awakening is probably the best Prong album, it's the only one that made it to my Ipod.

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  15. Necrophobic =/= filler. If nothing else, it's too short to be filler.

    Prong were sort-of harbingers of beard metal - people who didn't like metal jerked off all over them because they had these NYC noise scene connections. I thought they were boring.

    On the other hand, it took Helmet years to suck this much. They were still pretty listenable until "Monochrome." Even "Size Matters" had a couple of good songs on it. "Monochrome" was useless.

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  16. in the 90s everybody went their separate way after the demise of thrash, pantera held the progressive banner for another couple of years but I don't blame them for the horrors that came after them, Prong definitely followed their own path w/ industrial ministry, nin tinged metal, I thought Tommy did a very brave visionary work of art but very few of his core fans got it. It's not Tommy's fault people lack vision and musical understanding of where things should have gone, obviously things went to shit after 1995 for ALL metal for a reason. I'm not trying to diss the fine people at metalinquisition, comedy is important, it's just sad that people were so lost in the shuffle of the 90s fusions and Prong could have been much more than a comedic sidenote. Cleansing and Rude Awakening are classics in my book.

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  17. I think you should listen to their last one, "POwer of the Damager".
    Some serious riffs Tommy Victor unleashed there! I almost made myself a cardboard guitar! Damn!

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  18. I can't believe Ted Parsons is a memeber of Jesu!

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  19. The only songs that I can stand from Prong are "Beg To Differ" and "Unconditional". OTT, they bored the fuck out of me.
    helmet on the other hand, I liked up thru AfterTaste. Not their best, but there were atleast some good songs on it.

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  20. Kerry King was a body builder? If by "body builder" you mean bald, fat guy who yearned to be a professional wrestler or at least be confused for one, then yes, Kerry King was a body builder.

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  21. "Beg to Differ" and "Prove You Wrong" are still absolutely fucking awesome. Come on, on the latter alone you've got "No Way to Deny It", "Unconditional", "Irrelevant Thoughts", etc. - all totally fucking golden.

    I never really cared for the early stuff, and when I revisited all that material earlier this year that sentiment still rang true. I still own "Cleansing" but haven't listened to it in ages. That was the beginning of the end, that one...

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  22. The "Prove you Wrong" cover actually is Pushead art. A collage of sorts. That doenst make it a good cover, but it does, in fact, make it a Pushead cover!

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  23. my beef with Beg To Differ is the production, it's so compressed sounding. Tommy Victor is a producer of sorts...he used to do sound at CBGB's hence his credit in live albums by the Descendents and others. Still, dude should have heard how awful it sounded.

    Regarding Helmet...damn, I still love them. Maybe I"m stuck in the past.

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  24. Braden, your blog has a mixed reference to Project X AND Tom Boonen? You're my hero.

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  25. Zachary...yup, my statement about King being a body builder was a bit confusing.
    "Body builder wannabe" is a more fitting tag, I guess.

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  26. >my beef with Beg To Differ is the production, it's so compressed sounding.

    I love the production on BTD. I wish more metal records sounded like that and ...And Justice For All.

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  27. Now that I think about it, shouldn't the "wiggerish arm movement" tag be applied to Prong? I don't know about you, but when I hear "Beg to Differ", I sometimes do some "yo-yo" convulsions with my hands. Obituary, Helmet, and Vio-Lence induce this as well, which is why I listen to metal only in private.

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  28. Although "Beg To Differ" has the better art, Pushead still had a hand in designing that less than memorable photographed cover for "Prove You Wrong"...guess he was resting his hands from all that Kinghorse pointilism.

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  29. I remember thinking Prong had an air of stupidity about them (even more so than Pantera), but I also remember nearly snapping my neck to "Snap Your Neck". That was one neck-breaking riff/groove. I also remember liking "Rude Awakening" (the song). Don't remember much else. But judging from the post/comments, I haven't been missing out on anything. So I ain't not gonna revisit shit.

    And how did Helmet get lumped in there? They were more accomplished, relevant and influential than these choads could ever have hoped to be, and still get namedropped as influence to this day. Page was a more accomplished guitarist and wrote better riffs/songs, while John's snare brings a smile to my face whenever I bust them out. Monochrome is the only album that "sucks".

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  30. oh my god...Helmet's snare sound. It was a stock Yamaha steel 6.5" snare. Amazing.

    I remember Prong being interviewed on Headbangers Ball back in the day and Tommy Victor wearing a white, cotton white sox uniform jersey and matching shorts. it basicall looked like pagamas....he topped it all off with nearly knee high black doc martens. offfah.

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  31. So much fucked up stuff to comment on....where to start....

    First of all: Beg to Differ, Prove You Wrong, Cleansing, and Rude Awakening all hold up well to this day. Scorpio Rising is definitely crap, but with no Ted Parsons or Paul Raven on-board, I'm not sure you could expect them to pick up where Rude Awakening left off. I haven't heard Power of the Damager yet, so it wouldn't be fair to comment.
    Of course, if you hold those that Prong and Helmet influenced against them, they should probably be put to death, but that's not exactly fair either. Proper context should be maintained when asessing history.

    Anyway, some other quick points:
    1)Parsons and Stanier are two of the best drummers out there (BTW - Stanier doesn't have an instantly recognizable snare sound? Are you daft, man?). Prong w/Parsons and Helmet w/Stanier are instantly elevated because of their presence - your comments don't change this.
    2) Bands with bloodline connections to Killing Joke (Prong) are automatically better than 90% of other bands. I realize this doesn't apply any longer, but again, it can help with proper historical context of some of the older stuff.

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  32. is the snare comment directed at me? my point was that such an amazing sound game from a stock snare, one that came with an old kit, not even one of their signature models. i found that to be amazing. he told me it didn't even have a badge, but he knew it was a yamaha.

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  33. What the fuck? 'Force Fed' and 'Beg To Diffe'r are great albums. 'Prove You Wrong' is okay, but it all went downhill after that. They also did a great Chrome cover. I suppose everybody here hates Godflesh and Jesu? 'Reign in Blood' filler? Is this the Wigger Slam forum.

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  34. What the fuck? 'Force Fed' and 'Beg To Diffe'r are great albums. 'Prove You Wrong' is okay, but it all went downhill after that. They also did a great Chrome cover. I suppose everybody here hates Godflesh and Jesu? 'Reign in Blood' filler? Is this the Wigger Slam forum.

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  35. "Is this the Wigger Slam forum."

    yes.

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  36. I love Godflesh and Jesu. Both of those have something in common besides members of Prong: Justin Broadrick. Really, all we can take away from this is that the members of Prong are amazing supporting other people (Justin Broadrick, Jaz Coleman, Michael Gira), but should not be left to their own devices.

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  37. Lucho,

    Straight edge hardcore and pro-cycling... that's just how I roll...

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  38. braden, i'll make sure i use the Laurent Fignon label a bit more...just for you!

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  39. I posted up some old "shit" on the blog just for you... street cred here I come!

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  40. Force Fed is a killer album, I haven't bothered listening to their other stuff, but thats a classic album, you have bad ears and probably suck cock.

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  41. I think calling the lyrics to Proud Division "vaguely racist" is a stretch -- he uses the term breed, but that's fairly generic to mean the type of person you are. I think the song's more about rising above the crowd.

    Then again, idiot liberals can't tell the difference between personal pride, nationalism and racism, so I'm probably wasting my breath.

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