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Carved Into Stone

Long Branch (2012)
Rating: 9/10

In an ideal world, Prong would be huge. After being snapped up by Epic for Beg To Differ in 1990, the trio would ride the cusp of commercial success with the immense Cleansing (1994), a record that still wipes the floor with most releases today. But metal was never intended to end happily ever after, and Prong called it a day after Rude Awakening (1996) failed to ignite the metal world.

After a spell playing with Danzig and Ministry, mainman Tommy Victor resurrected Prong but only to release average albums in Scorpio Rising (2003) and Power Of The Damager (2007). However, with the advent of their newest slab, Carved Into Stone, the happy ending may become more of a reality, as this album is in severe danger of becoming the metal release of 2012.

Comparisons are going to be drawn to Cleansing, but all for the right reasons – this is the best batch of songs Victor and his duo of cronies (ex-Static X bassist Tony Campos and drummer Alexei Rodriguez) have stamped their names on for nearly two decades. So many styles are explored here, from thrash to alternative metal, but all staying within the Prong blueprint that its mass appeal is undeniable. But the jewel in this album’s crown is undeniably ‘Revenge… Best Served Cold’ which stands up there with ‘Snap Your Fingers…’ and ‘Prove You Wrong’ as not just a Prong classic, but probably the best across-the-board metal track you’ll hear this year. Victor seemingly hasn’t lost the knack for writing infectious, heavy groovy riffs and his much improved vocal performance accentuates the killer hook of the chorus – one listen and it’ll be in your head for days.

The rest of the album also stands up well though – from the opening thud-thrash of ‘Eternal Heat’ to the off-kilter title track that sways and swirls before pummeling the listener with yet even more of those bludgeoning grooves, through to ‘Subtract’; yet another classic in the making.

“A wasted life with nothing to prove” sings Victor on ‘State Of Rebellion’. Prong may have wasted some of their years while band members did their own thing, but it sounds like they have everything to prove on their eighth full-length album. The whole record flows from start to finish, with each song meriting its inclusion. Harnessing a punchy production and superb performances from the rhythm section, not only does it seem like Prong have written an album that outclasses Cleansing but also obliterates any competition with ease.

Neil Not

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