Released: 2012, SPV/Long Branch
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
CARVED INTO STONE is the kind of album that feels like it’s been brewing inside of Tommy Victor for some time. Without a doubt it’s the best Prong disc in years, and I’d go as far to say that it’s their best since CLEANSING. Yes, I understand what kind of statement that is, but CARVED INTO STONE is really that good. While SCORPIO RISING and POWER OF THE DAMAGER both had their moments, they were missing that special combination of anger, power riffs and the catchy hooks that seem to emanate from the classic Prong tunes that we all know and love. Which is EXACTLY why this disc such a flawless metal manifesto: eleven tracks full of big fat angry riffs that are dressed to the nines in memorable aural visages that punch you square in the nards as you’re singing along.
Prong has a long reputation for blending various elements of heavy with a carousel of different musical influences, be it the crossover punk of its origins or the industrial/electronica that was prevalent on later releases. But whether it was “Beg to Differ” or “Rude Awakening,” there was always something preternatural in the heart of those songs that identified the sound as unquestionably being Prong. And every one of these new tracks shares that quality. The album launches with a trifecta of heavy, in the form of “Eternal Heat,” “Keep on Living in Pain,” and “Ammunition,” each tune offering up a wallop of that bottom heavy, super compressed guitar tone with hooky choruses. I was singing along in the car upon my first listen, I can’t tell you the last time that happened. But it’s cuts like “Path of Least Resistance,” “Put Myself to Sleep,” and the exceptional “Revenge Served Cold” that really make me love this disc. Some of the best that Victor’s ever penned; they strike that perfect balance between being commercially appealing without sacrificing an ounce of integrity or heaviness in the process. “Snap Your Neck” anyone?
Rounding out the current lineup is ex-3 Inches of Blood drummer Alexei Rodriguez and bassist Tony Campos (ex-Static X, current Ministry). Which, if I have any gripes about CARVED INTO STONE at all, it’s that Campos sounds a bit underused. The guy’s a powerhouse four stringer, but outside of a few tracks like “State of Rebellion” he doesn’t get a whole lot of face time. I’d love to hear what kind of dynamic that he could add on stage, especially with older material. The production on the album is spot on; the highs are high, the lows are low, allowing you to appreciate all of the musical nuances at play, which there are indeed plenty of. Victor’s fretwork sounds reinvigorated with some impressive arrangements and lead work, but the guy really sounds like he’s having a good time.
I can’t say enough good things about CARVED INTO STONE. Beyond being a great disc for Prong, it’s one of the most consistent and enjoyable metal discs period that I’ve heard in a while. It’s a great introduction for new fans that may only be familiar with the classic singles, and it’s a great reintroduction for older fans that may have been lost along the way. CARVED INTO STONE is available now through SPV/Long Branch.