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
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
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