August 19, 2014 Prong – Ruining Lives (Album Review)
There was a point where New York was quite like the Mecca of hardcore music. One of the pillars to which everyone worshipped was known as CBGB’s, despite less than ideal bathrooms. So many bands either began the journey to recognition or started assembling there. Who knows what Tommy Victor, a sound guy at the time, witnessed there to spark a fire to build one of metal’s cornerstone bands, Prong, but we are glad he did. Prong’s unrelenting style came full force upon EP Primitive Origins (1987) and album Force Fed (1988) with the sounds of pure punk/metal testimony. Many would say it all came to climax with the release of The Cleansing (1993) which featured everyone’s favorite anthem “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”, however this statement does not take into consideration the band’s continued growth and driven the releases that followed. After a four year hiatus after ‘Scorpio Rising’ Prong marked its return to form with its album Power of the Damager (2007). Another five year break in album releases hit until the follow-up Carved Into Stone came to a crashing and thankful halt in 2012 which demonstrated Prong’s most focused and evolutionary albums to date. In April of 2014 Tommy and company refused to let anyone catch their breath with the unleashing of their ninth release Ruining Lives.
If brutality had an instruction manual, ‘Ruining Lives’ would be the “book on tape” for it. There is no easing into the album as it explodes in a flurry of machine gun drums and Victor’s surgical riffs with the track “Turnover”. In many ways, this song alone defines the growth of Prong with signature harmonics and neck breaking speed; but the production, flow to changes, and almost melodic choruses demonstrate Prong’s perfection in growing with their art. The title track “Ruining Lives” is by far the most layered song Prong has done to date, going through so many sonic textures. From slow dark build ups and punctuating riffs that will be sure to get your head flailing. The highest mark for the album comes with the track “Chamber of Thought”, which puts on a certifiable guitar clinic by Victor. Any aspiring guitarist needs to put this track on repeat as it features one of the album’s most mind-melting guitar solos. While The Cleansing may be Prong’s most popular albums, Ruining Lives is by far the culmination of all that is Prong and should be on the top of one’s holiday shopping lists for the spastic headbanger in their life.
In a time when metal is suffering from “cookie cutter molding” and stunted growth, Prong waves their flag proudly by refusing to fit a given formula. While having shifted in lineups multiple times, Victor time and time again brings together a group of surgical masters on every album. That in itself is a feat worth noting as the band with new additions of Jason Christopher (bass/backing vocals) and Art Cruz (drums), has only further perfected its art of destroying your senses. With Prong reporting, that even during their current cycle of European tours, they are in the studio, anticipation for the follow up to Ruining Lives could not be more appealing. By far the best metal album this year, it earns 4.5 out of 5 stars.