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Prong: Carved Into Stone

After a blistering start, with four albums that introduced and then reinforced straight down, thrash infused Metal that stripped paint with its ferocity, Prong have become something of a stop start entity. From those first four albums, Beg To Differ, Prove You Wrong and Cleansing are as good as an example of how to produce heavy music, without slipping into extreme territory. Riffs may have been king, but classy vocals and melodies underpinned everything that was good about Prong. A further excellent album Rude Awakening saw the light of day in 1996, but the trio split soon after. Since then reunions, reformations and altered line-ups have come and gone, with another couple of albums - Scorpio Rising in 2003 and Power Of The Damager in 2007 doing little to further the Prong legacy. That however is set to change, with the excellent Carved Into Stone, which is the band's eighth full studio effort.

Throughout the band's ups and downs, singer, guitarist and chief songwriter Tommy Victor has remained the only Prong constant, with the line-up for CIS being completed by new bassist Tony Campos (Ministry/Soulfly) and drummer Alexai Rodriguez (3 Inches Of Blood). Wisely however the trio have spent considerable time playing live before recording a whole host of songs that have been whittled down into the mean, lean eleven tracks on Carved Into Stone. The signature machine gun riffs are in evidence right from the off, but then so are the insanely catchy choruses, pounding drums and rasping, but clear vocals. This is Prong as we never thought we'd hear them again. From start to finish the whole album sounds fresh, energetic and vital, while also feeling like an old, if somewhat out of control friend from the past. It is a clever mix, with Carved Into Stone resisting the urge to update the band's sound, but doing so with a sharp enough production (courtesy of Steve Evetts - the first time Victor hasn't handled production on a Prong platter) and eye for the here and now that avoids this being a nostalgia-fest.

Victor's voice hasn't changed one jot, containing a smidge of melody and loads of spitting, snarling aggression. Perfect for the likes of the slow grinding "Subtract" or the pounding "Keep On Living In Pain". While everything does rely on traditional, aggressive Metal values, there's still plenty of variety on display, with the slow, deliberate "Path Of Least Resistance" hitting home hard, while "Put Myself To Sleep" adds a fast frantic groove that proves to be irresistible. That said the real ace in this classy deck rolls into view in the shape of "Revenge Served Cold". Another song based around a grooving, niggling riff - which is reminiscent of a certain Zakk Wylde's approach - it is the sort of track that sticks with you long after you've finished listening to it, but still has an in your face impact on the first time of asking.

It has been a seriously long time since Prong really delivered an album that had the potency and directness to make you sit up and take notice. There's no doubt Carved Into Stone has the ability to do just that, but vitally, it will also keep you coming back for more for a long time to come.

Track Listing
1. Eternal Heat
2. Keep On Living In Pain
3. Ammunition
4. Revenge Served Cold
5. State Of Rebellion
6. Put Myself To Sleep
7. List Of Grievances
8. Carved Into Stone
9. Subtract
10. Path Of Least Resistance
11. Reinvestigate

Added: May 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Prong Online
Hits: 2661
Language: english

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