Prong – State Of Emergency
Release Date: 07/10/23
Running Time: 40:26
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, acolytes! I am the High Priest of Extreme Music, Dark Juan, and I accept your obeisances gratefully and gracefully from my bed of pain. Yes, Dark Juan went on holiday to Scotland after a punishing work schedule and immediately came down with a large and unpleasant chest infection which has manifested itself with a hacking cough and a head and chest full of so much sticky crap that Dark Juan has been seriously contemplating suicide just to give Mrs Dark Juan a break from the noise. Not even a week of constant, “medicinal” drinking has helped. I was in Scotland, after all, and there are many distilleries there and many fine single malts to sample. I also went on a bit of a pilgrimage when in Scotland, and that was to visit as many locations as we could of The Wicker Man (the original, not the Nick Cage travesty) film starring Edward Woodward. Yes, I now know exactly where to place my sacrifices for the good of Metal. You should all be pleased by this. Even if you are chosen to be the sacrifice. You will be dying for the good of the One True Faith and you will forever sup at the bar of Valhalla. But yes! I have seen St. Ninian’s Cave, I have been to Kirkcudbright and seen the kirk where Woodward worshipped and the ruined kirk at Anwoth. I have even visited Summerisle’s bakery and gazed upon May Morrison’s post office and shop in real life.
As an aside, there is a moment in The Wicker Man that makes Dark Juan incredibly jealous of Edward Woodward. That moment is when he is between Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt and being stripped by them. Obviously, in the film this is because he is being prepared for sacrifice. In Dark Juan’s head, being sandwiched between Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt will have an ENTIRELY different outcome that does not involve fire in any way but would be equally hot. There would be far fewer clothes involved and they would be rather less concerned about sacrificing virgin coppers…
However, I have returned to the glorious People’s Republic of West Yorkshire and have retired to my chaise longue to listen to the latest offering from New York, USA veterans, Prong. I can’t believe they have been a band since 1986, man. I have literally grown up with them…
The Platter Of Splatter™ is rotating rapidly. Let’s see whether Tommy Victor and the boys still have it, or whether we should be giving them Zimmer frames and bath chairs…
A small piece of housekeeping – I don’t give a flying fuck how big or famous a band are. If they are good, I will say so. If they are wank, I will also say so. Dark Juan is not about stroking egos, Dark Juan is a music critic and writer, not a sycophant.
‘The Descent’ kicks “State Of Emergency” off with a major, and I mean MAJOR Thrash Metal vibe, all snotty punk attitude, double bass drumming and sharp-edged, shrapnel-spitting riffing, with vocal phrasing in the verses very reminiscent of Helmet’s Page Hamilton, although Tommy Victor’s normal wide-eyed, staring, spittle flecked delivery reasserts itself in the chorus and also on the title track. He carries on his usual rage against everything in the music – his guitar work has always been top-notch and the tone he has on this album is just sublime. His riffing is also so metronomically precise from opening cut to closing roar that it brings a nostalgic tear to the eye of Dark Juan, who grew up listening to “Cleansing” and is still hopelessly in love with the guitar work on that album. “State Of Emergency doesn’t have that clean, pure, stripped back three-piece sound that “Cleansing” had (although ‘Breaking Point’ harks beautifully at it with the distended harmonic on the intro, a la ‘Whose Fist Is This Anyway?’) instead deciding to adopt a thick, rich low end that could be used as ballast on a supercarrier it is that heavy and dense. And the breakdowns… oh, the fucking breakdowns! Dark Juan’s neck is absolutely fucking destroyed right now. Mrs Dark Juan has left me and moved in with her daughter because she “Won’t be a party to a stupid old fucker who already has a back problem knackering himself just in time to go back to work. DICKHEAD!”
‘Obeisance’ shows a kind of Post-Metal influence between the armour-plated riffing. It is this willingness to incorporate unusual and abstruse styles into an ultra-Metal blueprint that makes Prong so fucking fascinating. Beneath the wall of distortion there are always unusual melodies, or super-hard dissonance or complete curveballs thrown at you. ‘Disconnected’ is an unusual, heavy as fuck Post-Punk (unsurprising since Paul Raven used to play with Prong) anthem with a tinge of Emo chucked in there with the hyper-anthemic chorus. Imagine Killing Joke around “Pandemonium” cranking up the Metal and you have an idea what this song sounds like. There’s even a cover of Rush’s ‘Working Man’ at the end of the record that is not at all awful (as many Metal covers can be) and that appears to suit the style of Prong extremely well when slowed down and downtuned. Fucking hell, this album is absolutely fucking sublime…
This is the most complete Prong Dark Juan has heard in a long time. Tommy Victor has never sounded better, his gravelly, full-throated visceral bark being precisely on point throughout the whole album, and the band as a whole sounding at the absolute height of their powers, and also absolutely (and joyously, having listened to the album several times. This album sounds like a band enjoying themselves mightily) defying any form of categorization. There are elements of pure Metal, Groove Metal, Thrash, Hardcore, Industrial, Punk and whatever the fuck Killing Joke played dumped in a Metal cement mixer and crushed into this unique, dense sound that only Prong play. The production on the album (ably handled by Steve Evetts, who also played bass on this recording) is also absolutely fucking PERFECT for the stripped back, power-trio sound of Prong. The guitars are very far forward in the mix, but any aficionado of Prong will know that the guitar work of Tommy Victor is the focal point around which everything else revolves. The bass is deeper and harder than on “Cleansing” and the drums pin-sharp and murderous throughout. All Dark Juan knows is that “State Of Emergency” is heavier than the entire US Navy aircraft carrier fleet carrying all your mums to a cake-eating competition while they are wearing neutronium knickers.
Now THAT’S an image to conjure with.
So yeah, if you like your Extreme music to be unique, challenging and eclectic as fuck, Prong are the band for you. Everyone should love Prong. In fact, Dark Juan makes it a religious command. If you are a true Defender Of The Faith, you MUST buy “State Of Emergency” and bask in the genre-busting, constantly shifting sounds of Prong.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is cursing October and its rash of absolutely fucking top notch releases for screwing up what was a fairly solid top ten list of the year, and Prong have well and truly fucked it further with this absolutely unmissable 47,000,000,000/10 release.
01. The Descent
02. State Of Emergency
03. Breaking Point
05. Light Turns Black
06. Who Told Me
10. Back (NYC)
11. Working Man
Tommy Victor – Guitars, lead vocals
Jason Christopher – Bass, backing vocals (Steve Evetts played bass and contributed backing vocals in the album)
Griffin McCarthy – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.