Prong + Spoil Engine + Hark
@ The Underworld, London
June 22, 2017
Review & Photographs by Graham Hilling
It’s a rather damp and drizzly night in July that sees Prong roll into good old London town for a show at the Underworld. Arriving early, there’s already a line of punters outside the venue, doing their best to shelter from the rain!
The first band on stage today are Hark from Wales. These guys have toured with Prong before and are a great choice as an opener. They knock out heavy as heavy gets sludge/stoner metal and do it with a bit of style actually.
It’s a bit of a shame that there is only a small early evening crowd to witness it. The iconically named Jimbob Isaac (previously of Taint) puts out some ferocious vocal lines and the whole band sound properly cranked and very tight.
Playing a set of songs mainly from the latest album, Machinations, favourites are set opener “Fortune Favours the Insane” whichh nicely sets the tone for the rest of the set, and “Nine Fates” with its twisting melodic lines.
They throw in a couple of older songs for good measure too, “Scarlet Extremities”, crushingly heavy…..
By the time the guys finish, The Underworld has filled out a little bit and the temperature, despite the rain outside, is climbing at an alarming rate!
Next up are Spoil Engine from Belgium. Having been very impressed with their last album, Stormsleeper, I was looking forward to seeing how they would sound live. Unfortunately, they started the set a little bit half cocked with some technical issues preventing the guitars from sounding 100%.
This was soon remedied though and the band started to relax into the groove oriented metal and the crowd also started to warm to their sound. The set is comprised completely of songs from Stormsleeper, with the vocals of Iris Goessens characterizing the Spoil Engine sound and differentiating it from previous incarnations of the band with male vocals.
You could barely guess that some of the growling vocals were coming from this woman, honestly, she looks like she must be channeling a demon from beyond this planet. The vocals are also accompanied by a softer, more retrospective vocal performance too. All pretty impressive.
Highlights include “Black Sails”, “Singing Sirens” and “Disconnect”, all excellent songs, well constructed and showcasing a variety of styles that bodes well for the future – think Arch Enemy(ish) circa Anthems of Rebellion.
The sound in the Underworld is now really cooking too. All powered along at a pace by the solid drumming of Matthijs Quaars. Steven ‘gaze’ Sanders is the mastermind behind this band and as well as pulling some interesting faces, he also plays some very tasty lead guitar parts.
Spoil Engine leave the stage looking pretty pleased with themselves, they can be confident that this reviewer, for one, will be making an effort to catch them on their next visit to the UK for sure. Judging by the reception they got, I don’t think I’m likely to be the only one.
The temperature in The Underworld is now very high! The crowd has filled the main room and overflowed to the surrounding balconies and there is an air of anticipation.
Prong are a band that has been around a long while. In truth, it is Tommy Victor, Prongs guitarist and vocalist that has held the Prong flag aloft for many a day. He is now the only original member of the band but this makes little difference, in many respects, he is the band, especially given the number of lineup changes since the band was originally formed in 1986.
The set this evening reads like a greatest hits list, including so many crowd pleasers and sing along chants that you could easily lose your voice by the end of the evening.
All knitted together by some of the sharpest riffs and catchiest tunes to be found in metal. The fact that the recorded material obviously has several guitar parts whereas live, it is just one goes unnoticed for the most part. There aren’t many solos, and where there are, they are actually part of the song. Solos are not what Prong is about anyway.
“Disbelief” kicks the set off at a blistering pace and ignites the audience, which immediately responds with a pit and some some good natured pushing and shoving! Things slow down with “Ultimate Authority” but this gives the crowd their first opportunity for a good singalong!
This is followed by “Beg to Differ”, maintaining the energy and giving the crowd a good opportunity for a stomping pit experience with its’ choppy riffs.
And the classics just keep on rolling, “Lost and Found”, “Cut-Rate”, “Eternal Heat”….by the time we get to “Broken Peace” the venue is starting to feel like a cauldron. Very, very hot! No shortage of pit action either. With the catchline “…pick up the broken peace” ringing out around the Underworld.
Tommy Victor smiles and engages with the audience in between songs and despite the small stage, both Victor and bassist Mike Longworth make good use of the stage and even get the odd jump in. They all seem to be enjoying the gig as much as the punters.
Art Cruz on the drums powers it all along at a pace. Pouring water over his head at intervals to keep himself cool. This goes all over the drum kit and in the stage lights makes quite a spectacle as he bashes out beat after beat with the water splashing high into the air.
“Whose Fist Is This Anyway?” followed by the anthemic “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” only serves to whip the crowd into more of a frenzy! The set is closed by “Divide And Conquer”, from the latest album Zero Days.
It’s not long before they’re back on stage though, playing one of the best tracks from the Carved Into Stone album, “Revenge…Best Served Cold”. A great song-a-long for sure, mixed in with massive riffs.
So another fine Prong gig in London, it does seem that live they deliver time after time and certainly would have had to try hard to fail with this evenings setlist, which had everything I wanted to hear! A good evening all round!