Released: 2016, Steamhammer/SPV
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Prong's recent winning streak continues with their 10th studio album – not counting last spring's cover collection Songs From The Black Hole. Though not quite the top-to-bottom triumph of 2014's masterful Ruining Lives, X (No Absolutes) makes for a rock solid follow-up and carries forward the band's return to their classic early/mid-'90s sound that began with 2012's comeback outing Carved Into Stone.
Working with the same support cast of bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Art Cruz from the Black Hole recording, founding frontman/guitarist Tommy Victor and crew serve up a punchy, groovy, lively collection that nicely marries metallic might and hardcore spunk, graced, at times, with an industrial hue. It recalls Prong's Beg To Differ-Rude Awakening era in its crafty songwriting and resonant crunch, but with a looser, less-processed production offering plenty of energy and vitality that shows the band aren't merely going through the nostalgic motions.
“Ultimate Authority” and “Sense Of Ease” set a brisk pace at the open that continues throughout, as do Victor's muscular riffs and hooks, all of which will keep your head bobbing for much of No Absolutes' 40-some minutes. The bonus track “Universal Law” - which was included on the promo – adds a welcome hardcore jolt after the spotty, initially Nine Inch Nails-like finale “With Dignity.”
Along with the sparse electronic wash that leads off “With Dignity” and the similar tinges that punctuate the title track, as well as the splash of keyboard on the power ballad-like “Do Nothing,” there really isn't much of an obvious industrial presence on No Absolutes, which isn't the worst thing in the world. The band sound more at ease and intense when they just let it loose anyway – indeed the almost djenty thrum of “Belief System” feels a bit clumsy when compared to the most of the other material here.
Despite a few missteps, No Absolutes finds Prong sounding as inspired and potent as ever – which is really quite amazing given Victor's extracurricular activities with Danzig, Teenage Time Killers and the band's somewhat fluid, though currently solid, lineup situation. The trio are on a nice, and encouraging, roll that they hopefully can maintain.