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Back in 1876, General George Armstrong Custer led a group of American military troops to control a rebellion of Native Americans when they left their reservations. The Battle of the Little Horn (the conflict between the two) lasted a few days before the Native Americans killed Custer and his army. After Custer kicked the bucket, a few Indians apparently approached his body and rammed steel rods into his ear. This was done for one of two reasons:
1. They did it to symbolize his poor listening to Native American threats, which basically means they told him to not fuck around and he did anyway.
2. Even though the Native Americans hated Custer, they spared him the agony of hearing Prong's "Scorpio Rising" in the afterlife because it sucked terribly.
Yes, that may sound a bit wacky, but it makes sense. You see, I've been a Prong fan since I became a true metalhead and I owe the band a lot for expanding my musical perimeters. I loved hearing those crushing tunes like "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" and "Rude Awakening" that showed off so many elements of Prong's music. Prong was at the top of their game with 1996's "Rude Awakening," but founding member Tommy Victor decided to leave and play in Danzig for almost a decade before returning to the band he once founded. Seven years passed before Prong was back with "Scorpio Rising," but it wasn't what anyone expected. Instead of a glorious comeback that seemed likely, Prong somehow managed to destroy both their fanbase and image in under fifty minutes with "Scorpio Rising."
Thrash elements and industrial noises - some of the key parts of Prong's music - have been removed and the band now spins on a dull style of mainstream feces. Easy, shallow, and moronic are all accurate words to describe the poor riffs that plague this record. The typical routine of sup-par groove riff after sup-par groove riff is the only formula Victor follows; not only that, but there are hardly any solos. Listening to the guitar playing is like having explosive diarrhea: you want it to stop, but it won't. The decision to abandon industrial effects was also a huge mistake because there isn't any hand to keep this album from falling. Samples allow music to remain fresh when interest is running low, but this idea was forgotten and it leaves this CD out to dry.
Fourteen tunes fight for survival, but only one succeeds. "Regal" is the sole song worth hearing due to the old-school thrash elements, blastbeats(!), and insane solos; everything else is generic and simple junk that belongs in a dumpster. Why did Prong take the time to write a decent track like "Regal" without perfecting the rest of the album? I guess some questions just can't be answered.
It's clear Victor and crew had the potential to make a decent comeback, but the poor ideas plus half-assed musicianship poisons "Scorpio Rising" beyond words. Beside being a cure for insomnia, "Scorpio Rising" is a disgrace to Prong's decent discography and gets nothing but the axe.
Now, this is not Prong's best but it is far from being horrible. It is a great comeback after the awkward Rude Awakening. It sounds like a more aggressive version of Cleansing which is my favorite work from them. There is far less random industrial samples and more heavy guitar grooves. Whoever thinks this sounds like Disturbed and said it had no leads or guitar solos obviously was listening to the wrong album or simply was too overwhelmed that Prong are still groovy to hear them. The thrash scene was built by the bands, not the fans of the thrash bands and even if the bands are playing a groovier version of thrash, it is still the bands who created the original scene.
The best songs will be reviewed here. The opener, "Detached", has a good moody riff and unique verses, mainly due to Tommy's vocal patterns. "All Knowing Force" is droning to the core and the following song, "Embrace the Depth", toys with some melody that works and there are even some death growls. "Reactive Mind" induces one to head bang to its massive riffage and "Regan" starts as a chugging groove riff but morphs into a killer Sodom-like thrash (!) break that fills the song's core and you also get a wicked solo from the Tommy man himself. "Inner Truth" has My Dying Bride-worthy doom grooves and a great melodic solo. "Avoid Promises" has great leads in the choruses and "Assurances" has super heavy and chunky grooves but they are also atmospheric at the same time. "Letter to a "Friend"" is the perfect 50/50 mix of melody and heavy out of any song on this album. The melody is very spacious and Mike Longsworth gets to do some bass fills along side some keyboards. The closer track, "Hidden Agenda", has a mix of groovy and thrashy riffs and leads going all over the place, a spine busting industrial interlude, and Tommy shouting like a mad man.
Even if this album didn't really get much attention, Prong came back hard and by the sound of this album, they are angry at the mallcore bands who ripped them off.
This album should be listened to more carefully and without pre-conceived notions to be truly appreciated though fans of the Cleansing era will be more likely to enjoy it. But that thrashy passage in "Regan" should shock those into disbelief if you thought Prong would never thrash again.
Prong go the way of Therapy? and release an album of middling hard rock with all-style-no-substance songwriting that manages to attempt to sell records (poorly) while pissing over a long and interesting legacy. This new release sadly, does nothing to add to this history. From afar it may be an excellently produced effort and from afar it may seem musically enjoyable. Even so, it's enjoyable in that same way trashy records by bands like Disturbed and Godsmack are. Tommy Victor has lost his way to the party...this is a shadow of the mighty Prong. Even Tommy's voice seems weakened by the mess. A good screamer he is, a singer - he is not.
Opener "Detached" is catchy in a Limp Bizkit sort of way (it has a borrowed riff I can't place and a "Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'" style chorus) and this is as hooky as it gets. Other songs attempt the same feat and occassionally Victor will come up with a good riff or vocal moment that will have you into it just to drop into the same Godsmack/Disturbed wannabe hard-rock that they should have avoided. Victor was once an amazing songwriter, it's rather dissapointing to see him chasing (and failing to catch) the almighty dollar. It has some good moments...but overall the product just falls flat on it's face in comparison to trend setting works like "Force Fed" and "Rude Awakening".
Maybe touring with Danzig will get him the recognition and attention he so desires and this awkward record will be left to the bird. When I hear a legendary underground band copping Disturbed it makes me shake my head and simply wonder "why?".
Hmm... Sometimes I think maybe it would've been better if Prong hadn't come back. This album is just awful. Prong has completely abandoned their thrash roots. They also abandoned their weird industrial sound. Instead, I guess Tommy Victor tried to get a more mainstream sound which he accomplished. Prong has sold out yet, if anything, their fan base has decreased. The only thing that separates this album from a nu-metal album is that Tommy Victor isn't rapping... but who knows what will happen for the next album?
I remember about 2 years ago on the Prong website they had a little demo of a song called Initiation. It sounded nice and promising so I had high hopes for this album. All the songs here sound completely the same. Many of them are barely 3 minutes long. Forget about solo's man. There are none. I guess playing guitar for Danzing for the past few years has decreased Tommy Victor's creativity eh? Oddly enough, like the past Prong albums the production is fantastic and the bass is nicely audible but the vocals are just horrible. They're so loud. Tommy has a nice voice but here it sounds like he's constipated and the vocals are louder than anything else so prepare for an annoying album.
The band welcomes another guitarist aboard named Monte Pittman yet the guitar work here is simply horrible. The riffs are all pretty much the same. Even a dude who's just been playing guitar for a month could play better than this. Its all power chords... over and over again. And since there are no interludes, leads, solos its just power chords for 48 minutes. I read somewhere in an interview saying that Regal had death metal influence. Haha. If you think that song has death metal influence then chances are the most extreme band you've been listening to is Slipknot.
Among all this bullshit there lie 2 decent songs: Embrace The Depth and Letter To A Friend. Embrace The Depth is a slightly advanced form of the earlier Initiation. Letter To A Friend takes a break from all the non stop power chords and is a slow song with no guitars during the verses. The chorus sounds pretty cool with a few power chords being palm muted. Other than these 2 songs everything else sounds exactly the same. Stay away from this album. Even if you are a huge Prong fan (like me) you still will hate this album unless you actually like mainstream rock music or nu-metal...