Prong-Songs From The Black Hole Review: Prong crafts a unique and entertaining collection of songs that honor their hardcore influences.
Prong have been on a roll. In the past three years they’ve released two acclaimed albums (the most recent being 2014’s Ruining Lives), proving that founding member-guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s made his case that Prong’s still vital, nearly 30 years later.
So it was a little surprising that they would focus on making a covers album for their next release.
There is a usual air of cynical accusation that comes with that territory: lack on inspiration, record company contractual obligations, etc.
Victor stated recently that their new cover album Songs From The Black Hole was suggested by management, but in classic Prong style, he’s crafted one of the most left-of-center collections in recent memory.
Songs From The Black Hole avoids any obvious iconic metal classics. Instead Prong take on punk, hardcore, goth and classic rock, all filtered through their inimitable razor edge fury.
The tone is set by Doomsday, a cover of Brit-hardcore band Discharge: under Victor and co’s hands it becomes a thrash tune with amphetamine fueled drums and a blistering guitar solo.
Even better is their take on Goth-rockers The Sisters of Mercy‘s Vision Thing. Prong beef it up, but keep it at mid-tempo, with Victor digging deep into satisfying strident power chords while sinking his teeth into its lyrics of political corrosion.
It’s the lyrics of each track that binds the patchwork song selection together: each track is an antiestablishment anthem, and the band knows how to channel that aggression, be it their acidic version of Bad Brains’ Banned in D.C. or the musical middle finger that is The Adolescents’ Kids of the Black Hole.
Killing Joke is Victor’s prime musical influence, so a cover seemed mandatory. But it proves odd in both selection and execution. Seeing Red is a lesser track off that band’s underrated self-titled 2003 album, and the band plays it so straight that it feels overly reverential and restrained. Likewise, the band’s take on Husker Du’s Don’t Want To Know If You Are Only falls a bit flat: the band (featuring bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Art Cruz) is too jack hammer tight to allow for the original’s slacker sonics.
The final track is the most surprising. Prong have never made a proper ballad. Until now. You’ll never hear Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer the same way again: Victor nails every elegant guitar line of the tune, but it feels so alien to Prong’s nature that it takes some getting used to. That’s not a bad thing.
A great covers album should do two things: redefine their musical predecessors, and plant the seed for listeners to seek out the original material. Songs For The Black Hole is successful on both counts. It’s also a very enjoyable record in its own right, and whets one’s appetite for the band’s next release, as well as Victor’s contributions for Danzig’s upcoming covers collections.
Want to own Prong’s Songs From The Black Hole on iTunes or Amazon? You can order via the links below:
[amazon_image id=”B00RZN2UP8″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Songs From the Black Hole[/amazon_image]