Prong with HARK & Steak Number Eight
O2 Islington Academy
23rd April 2015
Review & Videos by Jo Blackened
Photography by Inty Malcolm
Tonight saw the return of Prong; the American industrial/thrash metal band, which was formed back in 1986 by guitarist and vocalist Tommy Victor to our UK shores and after announcing their cover album earlier this year, it was clear these guys were as excited to be here as we was to see them!
Mixing up the support slots for this tour, it was Steak Number Eight that opened up tonight’s show.
This Belgian four piece band first got my attention back in 2011 when they first played London supporting Triggerfinger and ever since seeing them live I have been hooked. They are loud, in-your-face alternative, psychedelic rock, and are so unique and original it’s actually hard to place them in a genre. Sounding better every time I see them live, this superb band certainly know how to set the bar for tonight.
With a darkened eerie stage, the members burst into a fierce introduction to an impressive light show. Vocalist ‘Brent’ has a wide of vocal range switching from melodic, heavy rock to full on screaming in a matter of seconds as their blues, rock, stoner grunge sounds fill the half empty venue as he holds the crowd’s attention.
Despite the venue being pretty empty ‘Brent’ still shouts out to the crowd, encouraging them to move closer to the stage and soon gets everyone head banging and screaming out ‘You guys wanna see Prong tonight yeh?!!”
They play a great set filled with strong heavy and impressive riffs throughout, combined with their high energy; and despite the band having some sound technical difficulties it never affected their performance.
Even those who had never seen or heard of these guys before were shocked at how good they were and I overheard people saying to each other how amazed they were, which is another good reason people should attend gigs early, as you never know what you might miss!
For me personally it’s great to follow a band from the start, to see how far they have come, how they’ve developed and to follow their journey with them. I look forward to their return to the UK!
With the venue now starting to get slightly more busy, it was time for HARK to take to the stage.
Having never seen these Welsh heavy rock power trio play live before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. With their sound similar to bands such as Motörhead & Black Sabbath I assumed they wouldn’t have much new to offer, but they were great on stage.
If I’m honest, seeing as the support bands have been randomly swapping slots I would have personally preferred Steak Number Eight’s set to have been longer and gone on second.
These guys started off strong with their set filled with ferocious vocals, strong progressive-power-sludge sounds and pounding rhythms. However, losing some energy towards the middle of their set, they became slightly boring to watch as they never moved much on stage and their sound started to become predicable.
Fortunately, a change in tempo came and the energy was knocked back up, with the fans going from standing around with their arms crossed, to grabbing their plastic beer cups and shoving them in the air- this is what heavy metal is all about.
Despite their lack of diversity tonight HARK held their own, filling the room with their strong atmospheric drone sounds which excited the crowd who were geared up to see tonight’s headliners, leaving the crowd on a high.
Despite the many changes this band have faced over the years, Prong re-formed back in 2002 releasing eight studio albums, one live, four EPs, a DVD and one remix album, and after releasing a cover album I was excited to see these guys for the first time tonight.
Right from the start it is clear these guys belong on stage. They are incredible to watch and the crowd went crazy for them, as vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor found it hard to hide his excitement as he shouted how happy he was to be back in the UK.
These hardcore thrash guys played a strong set tonight and it was interesting to hear them play a mixture of their well-known songs mixed with covers, although tracks such as ‘Vision Thing’ by Sisters of Mercy didn’t seem to go down too well as fans were left looking slightly bewildered and unimpressed, but soon forgave them. I think the problem here, is that if you’re going to perform covers, they need to be performed well, making the track your own, where I feel this didn’t really work well tonight.
Despite this, the members seemed to be in great spirits with all the members looking happy and excited, well aside from bassist Jason Christopher who just looked angry most of the time, but I put that down to the heat from the lights as the members were so hot Jason spent most of his time pouring bottles of water over his head.
Another thing that caught my eye was drummer Art Cruz who amused himself by throwing out his drum sticks while someone threw them back on stage while still playing, which was pretty impressive to watch.
Their set seemed long tonight- it was clear they never wanted to stop as they moaned and joked about curfew times. In great but they were in great spirits, showing great crowd interaction throughout and they were thrilled with the support they were getting from their fans tonight, unlike the reaction they apparently got the night before in Liverpool, stating it was great not having to tell London to ‘Come on, headbang!’ Most of the crowd was already going insane, with some dance moves being shown that I haven’t seen for years!
I have to say I wasn’t too impressed with their cover of “Seeing Red” from Killing Joke either as they were once a favourite band of mine back in the day but it’s great to see Prong covering bands that are important to them, so why not?!
Most of their set was filled with traditional hard rock and metal with their songs armed by strong riffs and guitar solos. It is clear from the get go this is a band that holds true musical talent, keeping their reputation for their professional showmanship on stage.
They are a well-established and brutal band with their shows filled with high energy and intensity, and are a must see for anyone into the heavy thrash metal scene. As their set ends they say their thanks and leave the stage…for about 20 seconds, until they come back on for an encore.
Overall, this was a great gig with all bands playing on top form, leaving everyone wanting more.
The only problem really was why was it so empty? This is Prong for God’s sake, they deserved a larger turn out- if you missed this gig then you certainly missed out!
For more videos of this gig, please click here: www.youtube.com/user/Altercarnated/videos