Prong, ‘Zero Days’ – Album Review
One wouldn't be faulted for thinking Prong named their latest album Zero Days because it feels like it's been that short a period since their last album has come out. Ok, it was actually February of last year, but still, with this being the sixth full-length since 2012 - a list that includes a live release and a covers LP - it seems like every time the calendar flips, there's frontman Tommy Victor spearheading a new Prong-ject. Oh, and he's also handled guitar duties on two Danzig full-lengths in that time.
Motivation not being a problem, it's then a question of quality. Thankfully, Victor delivers on that front. Right out of the gate on Zero Days, it's a decidedly breakneck pace with "However It May End." The track employs a trick that Prong have made a habit of, at least across these 13 songs where, late in the song, there's a stark shift in the music where the furious double-bass drums and frenetic guitar give way to a dip into a power groove, not unlike Prong's onetime touring mates Pantera.
Though it's used frequently, the tactic never feels like a gimmick. It simply gives the respective compositions depth and makes the ears perk up. When Victor songs pulls a brutal riff out toward the end of the title track, it gives it new life and another dynamic for listeners to feast on.
Never a band to shy away from a brilliantly catchy number - see "Prove You Wrong," "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck," et al - Prong nails it once again with the single "Divide and Conquer" and the eminently singable chorus, "You can't go through life without these conditions (divide and conquer) / You can always rely upon opposition (faith and sorrow) / You can't go on through life without some division (divide and conquer) / You're gonna do time inside your own prison."
"Blood Out of Stone" is along the same lines, a builder, climbing steadily for the first minute before jumping off the cliff into a cacophony of melodic metal. Even the album closer, "Wasting the Dawn," checking in at a position which is typically a wasteland for many LPs, is a fresh blast of riff-age and infectious, near tribal drumming courtesy of Art Cruz.
Prong has always been saddled with the crossover thrash tag, and while that's not necessarily incorrect, recent years have seen the band expand their parameters across multiple genres. On Zero Days, there's the aforementioned melodic rock and groove metal, definitely some old-school thrash ("Operation of the Moral Law") and roaring metal ("Rulers of the Collective"), but there's not many echoes of the industrial which sort of defined the group in the '90s.
Inevitably, that's a good thing, because while Prong keeps putting out new music at a rate that would make Prince (R.I.P.) envious, it's not the same old same old in any respect. Tommy Victor has shown that not only is he a major fan of metal in general, but he's got ideas and excitement to share. Let's hope it's another zero days before we hear some new music from him.
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