Released: 2014, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
During a break in last year’s run of European summer festivals, Prong spent 3 days in Berlin’s Trixx Studio recording their festival setlist live in the studio for posterity. As a precursor to the release of RUINING LIVES, those recordings are now available through Bandcamp as an official bootleg, UNLEASHED IN THE WEST – LIVE IN BERLIN. As a thank you to the fans that have supported Prong over the years, it’s a pretty phenomenal release. For fans that may be on the fence or who are still in the discovery phase, you’ll want to wait to graduate to this one.
Make no mistake, short of the band actually being on stage, this is the most raw you’ll ever hear Prong. The 17 tracks on the album were recorded live and direct, and though there’s mention of overdubs in the press sheet, I sure as hell didn’t hear anything sounding touched up (other than some faux applause at the end of "Prove You Wrong"). Far from it as a matter of fact; you hear three guys crushing the hell out of some already massive tunes, and Tommy Victor sounding like he’s having a blast while doing it. There’s a healthy mix of fan favorites and deep cuts, but “Unconditional”, “Cut Rate”, “Lost and Found”, “Power of the Damager”, and particularly “Rude Awakening” are expelled with an energy that’s almost tangible. The intensity, accuracy, and attitude that Prong spits forth rivals that of a band with twice as many performers. An absolute “power” trio in every sense of the term.
But that raw, off the cuff approach to the tunes doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone – I get that. It’s a dirtier approach to a body of work that has a vibe and tone which (particularly with the CLEANSING/RUDE AWAKENING material) often achieved that vibe and tone through layers of sound and effects. All of which are stripped away on UNLEASHED IN THE WEST, so if that’s a deal breaker – stick with the back catalog. Otherwise, it’s a great compliment to the Prong library, and a definite reminder that Prong can still kick your ass in 2014.