Released: 2014, SPV Records
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.