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Thanks goes to Beavis & Butthead for introducing me to Prong - a band that stood out from the other alternative / wacko bands that appeared in the zany music video segments of the show. From what I understand, this is Prong’s most commercial successful album, and its groove motives against a thrash backdrop helped it obtain a wide audience.
Riffwise, this album is packed to the brim: aggressive, pounding, wrenching, and turbulent with tons of kick and a fun loving atmosphere while still remaining a very dark piece. The two big hits, “Whose Fist Is It Anyway?” and “Snap Your fingers, Snap Your Neck,” are the perfect examples of catchy, bouncy tunes charged with cut-throat choruses, hammering verses, and buzzsaw riffs properly coated with a deep sense of eradication and guidance. The songs are very serious in nature, but sound addicting and relentless. In a way, they pick up where many thrash bands of the 80s seemed to strike low-points in their careers during the 90s: Kreator, Destruction, Megadeth (somewhat), Slayer, and countless others. I’m reminded of Overkill most of all, since the style is much of the same when it comes to a pure assault on the senses through precise drumming, deafening bass, and very buzzy lead riffs. The main difference is that the riffs here sound a tad bit thicker than say the ones off of The Years Of Decay and the vocals are loud and proud.
Tommy Victor, the main man behind the vocals and guitars, is smashing and unmerciful in both departments. He lays down some pretty unyielding riffs, and his voice follows suit properly, as well. He usually yells with his hoarse voice that we all love to hear, and other times he’ll kind of mosey along with just talking like on “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” Other times he’ll depend more on the atmosphere trying to kick in, utilizing more effects with industrial influences, which feature themselves most prominently on the later tracks such as “No Questions.” The first half of the album houses more of the fast-paced gnarly tracks while the other half undergoes a shift towards industrial, but without doing itself in since the riffs don’t let up.
The quality of this album is rich all around, though as Prong’s fifth output you’d expect that. Double bass from the drums are thick and mighty, while the snares and toms don’t dispute the vibe as they attack in full force. Bass support rummages in the background, but give extra strength to the guitars, helping fill any gaps in the air as to prevent a thin atmosphere.
After that, I think we’re good from here on out. I’ve heard some issues arise where the songs begin to lose identity (sound alike), but to me this isn’t a huge ordeal. The sound is dignified in the beginning; each song carrying it’s own exclusive rhythm and groove. Later on I can admit that it may drudge together, but there are noticeable traits that help draw the lines between one and another (as slightly mentioned in earlier paragraphs). It’s a small concern for me, but I’ll recommend it anyway so that you can give it your own thoughts. Don’t let this band sit idle – let it be the executioner while you send your poseur bands to the gallows.
Prong....man....everytime I hear that band's name I think how they were so on the cusp of really breaking-through and becoming the next big thing. They are/were along the lines of bands/artists who completely stood out from the crowd and managed to make a niche for themselves without being so plagarized by so many bands simply because only they could do their own style with so much justice.
"Cleansing", like many other Metal bands in the mid-90's, was a direct link between their old style (Crossover/Thrash) to the more progressive newer style which is more groove and half-thrash based. Definately more of an industrial touch as well when it comes to the song structure and rythmns. If you consider this album Nu-Metal, well my friend I beg to differ(Ha! I made a funny!). "Cleansing" also features some of the more finest musicians of their day; Bassist Paul Raven ((RIP) Killing Joke, Ministry), and keyboardist John Bechel (Fear Factory).
The first half of "Cleansing" throws in a variety of songs from Prong's biggest hit "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" which is a mere foot-tapper compared to the groove-based motherfucker of "Broken Peace." "Broken Peace is FILLED with jump-da-fuck-up riffs but for some reason it's catchy as shit and it's groove that is well-needed and not forced. It harkens me back to Airwalks and baggy Jnco pants. Complete groove-based nostalgia. Then out of nowhere comes "Cut Rate" which is 1989 Crossover Riff HELL only in 1994!. It's got a nice little noisy industrial break which sounds something off C.O.C."Blind" but fuck it's still heavy. "One Out Numbred" is a breather with a more rock-based sound. Simpler. Starting to get a bit boring. After that song you get a bit bored with the tracks that all have different titles but seem like one huge run-on. The last song "Test" is right back to "One Out Numbered" and you think yourself aghHH! fuck you Tommy Victor. What the hell happened to that streak going through the first half of the album. Damnit!
That's one thing with Prong, you think they will deliver an ENTIRE album of great hits but only 1/4th or halfway do they completely loose track. But for those few songs that make your dick hard, it's worth it like a good cigarette buzz. You'll want it everytime but you'll only get one every once in a while. You'll savor the moment.