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Prong
Ruining Lives
May 2014
Released: 2014, Steamhammer/SPV
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Don’t think for a second that the visual presentation of RUINING LIVES is at all accidental. From the choice of logo, to the color scheme, to the prominently adorned fork n’ eyeball, the artwork should immediately elicit fond memories amongst the Prong faithful of a place and time when the outfit was arguably at its creative zenith. Not that Tommy Victor and company have had any shortage of inspiration and/or vitriol lately, the exceptional CARVED INTO STONE made sure that everyone knew that. But for those of you who experienced the band’s evolution between FORCE FED and CLEANSING, you know exactly what I’m talking about; they were goddamn untouchable.



Apparently Uncle Tommy wants to remind you of that, because RUINING LIVES is goddamn untouchable.



RUINING LIVES is the sound of a young man’s anger communicated through an older man’s experience. While far from a nostalgia record, the 11 tracks on the album adopt a bare knuckle, no bullshit approach that recalls the unapologetic aggression of BEG TO DIFFER, the melodic exploration of PROVE YOU WRONG, and the impeccably catchy songwriting that’s been a constant hallmark of Prong for thirty years. RUINING LIVES takes everything you’ve ever loved about Prong and makes it better.



Opening track “Turnover” is an instant classic; uptempo, riff heavy, with a message of positivity and self–reliance that’s a recurring theme across the album. It straddles that fine line of feeling like a throwback tune while sounding totally fresh and energized at the same time. Tunes like “The Barriers”, the title track, and the ultra-fast “The Book of Change” are straight up thrashers in the purest sense, while “Windows Shut”, “Remove, Separate Self”, and “Absence of Light” piggy back dense rhythms, fat hooks, and fan ready sing-along choruses. There’s plenty of variety to be found on RUINING LIVES, but it always sounds unmistakably like Prong. How many other bands can say that?



“Organic” is a word that gets thrown around far too often (guilty as charged), but RUINING LIVES is for certain the most “organic” sounding Prong record since PROVE YOU WRONG. Gone are the mechanical rhythms that have been the band’s calling card for the latter half of its existence in favor of a more straightforward riff n’ melody approach. The result is a much more lush and vivid sounding record that make the layers of vocals and instrumental arrangements just sound f@#king HUGE. It’s an exceptional album, no question there, but it’s even more so when you strap on some headphones and really allow everything that’s going on to soak in.



2012’s CARVED INTO STONE was an amazing record that totally reset expectations of what Prong was capable of in the 21st century, but RUINING LIVES raises the bar to an entirely other level. As someone who’s been buying Prong albums for longer than he’d care to admit, I’ll argue with anyone that RUINING LIVES is Tommy Victor’s finest hour. Buy this.
Track Listing

1. Turnover
2. The Barriers
3. Windows Shut
4. Remove, Separate Self
5. Ruining Lives
6. Absence of Light
7. The Book of Change
8. Self Will Run Riot
9. Come to Realize
10. Chamber of Thought
11. Limitations and Validations

Lineup

Tommy Victor – Vocals, Guitar
Alexei Rodriguez – Drums
Tony Campos – Bass

Concert Reviews

Next review: » Prong - Ruining Lives
Previous review: » Prong - Power of the Damn MiXXXer

Prong
Ruining Lives
May 2014
Released: 2014, SPV Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Prong mainman Tommy Victor certainly has righted the band's ship over the last couple of years. After the rather dreadful comeback albums Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager that followed Prong's six-year hiatus, he's got the band sounding pretty much like they did during the sonically stellar Beg To Differ-Rude Awakening era and playing with a vigor and purpose that harks all the way back to 1988's corrosive Force Fed.



2012's Carved In Stone got the turnaround started, beefing up an industrialized thrash metal sound that had been stripped bare on the far more straight-forward and raw Scorpio/Damager. Ruining Lives takes things even further. While not steeped in the electro/techno twiddling that started going a bit overboard by the time Rude rolled around – just before the band fell apart – it embraces the sleek grooves, crisp, clean sonic sheen and elastic rhythms that set Prong apart from the rest of the metal crowd back in the day while introducing contemporary elements that keep the sound vibrant and fresh.



The energy, urgency and punch of old is all here. The bracing “The Book of Change” is essentially a hardcore song played with thrash metal dexterity and boasting caterwauling, Slayer-esque leadwork. “Chamber of Thought” offers much the same. The title track gets a brief, but eye-opening blast-beat kick whereas the rigid, mechanized riffing of “Self Will Run Riot” offers the most pronounced industrial vibe here.



And where Victor and company seemed to be seeking mainstream simplicity on Scorpio/Damager, the only slightly more complex but far more aggressive tracks like “Turnover” or “Remove, Separate Self” deliver a natural catchiness in their crunching grooves and the lively pace from drummer Art Cruz and bassist Jason Christopher. And it's infinitely more satisfying.



Whether Victor lost his sense of direction from Prong's hiatus and/or his stints with Danzig and/or Ministry, it's great to hear the band have found themselves once again. Prong definitely sound a hell of a lot better when they sound like “Prong” than they did as a hard rock facsimile.
Track Listing

1. Turnover
2. The Barriers
3. Windows Shut
4. Remove, Separate Self
5. Ruining Lives
6. Absence Of Light
7. The Book Of Change
8. Self Will Run Riot
9. Come To Realize
10. Chamber Of Thought
11. Limitations And Validations

Lineup

Tommy Victor - vocals, guitars
Jason Christopher - bass, backing vocals
Art Cruz - drums

Concert Reviews

Next review: » Prong - Unleashed in the West - Live in Berlin
Previous review: » Prong - Power of the Damn MiXXXer





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