Prong — Scorpio Rising

November 4, 2003
Locomotive Music
Ramiro E. Vazquez
4 outta 5 skulls

In the early 90's a handful of bands emerged that helped bridge the gap between Thrash and what would later (unfortunately) become Nu-Metal. Bands that took the intensity of thrash and channeled it through a slower more groove-oriented approach. Of these bands the best known one is obviously "that one band from Texas" but other bands deserve their share of the credit like Exhorter, Suicidal Tendencies, Helmet and Prong. Prong even had two of their songs (For Dear Life and Beg to Differ) used as the theme for the old Headbanger's Ball.

As the 90's progressed Prong's music began to sound less thrash and more mechanical. Guitarist/singer/main man Tommy Victor started tuning his guitar lower, incorporating electronic sounds and was doing industrial remix to his songs before bands like Fear Factory and Linkin Park got the same idea. 1994's Cleansing sounded like a halfway point between Ministry's Psalm 69 and Vulgar Display of Power. Cleansing was definitely their best-known album, which included their big single "Snap your Fingers Snap your neck."

Musically Prong was onto something. Their fallow up 1996's Rude Awakening contained more electronic sounds and simpler arrangements but the songs were still good. The title track and "Face Value" had the potential to be as big "Snap your Fingers" but sadly it wasn't meant to be. The MTV Nazis had pulled the plug on The Headbanger's Ball a year before (the only place a band like Prong could get major exposure) and radio would rather play Hootie and the Blowjob (barf) and their record label showed no love to Prong. Prong was unceremoniously dropped and broke up shortly afterwards.

The years that Prong was away lesser bands like Sevendust, Static X and Disturbed were able to capitalize on the sound that Prong pioneered. So after being away for a few years Tommy Victor decides to resurrect Prong and some two years after reforming he releases his comeback album Scorpio Rising. Had the album been released in 1999 on major label it could have been just as (if not more) successful than Cleansing; sadly the album came out last year on a small independent label. Not only that but by now the Nu-Metal sound that Prong inspired has become old news and the kids are now getting get more into Metalcore bands like Shadows Fall. Although Slipknot is oddly enough still as big as they've ever been.

At it's worse Scorpio Rising sounds like a cheap rehash of the Cleansing album. Some of the songs like "Detached" are full of generic throwaway Nu-Metal riffs. "Entrance of the Eclipse" sounds so much like a half-ass rewrite of "Snap your Fingers Snap your Neck" that it's almost insulting. At it's best Scorpio Rising combines the songs from Rude Awakening but with the heavier guitar sound of Cleansing and less electronic crap. Tommy Victor's voice also sounds more aggressive and less bitter than it did on older Prong records. His lyrics have taken a turn for the better too. They now sound more philosophical with less of the life sucks attitude that dominated Rude and Cleansing. "Embrace the Depth" and "Avoid Promises" both sound kinda similar but they're the kind of songs that the more you listen to them the more that they grow on you. "Out on this realm" has a cool bassline and "Regal" starts pretty average but it gets really heavy really fast and the drummer comes pretty damn close to throwing down some blast beats.

It sucks for Prong that Nu Metal is no longer trendy and that they released this record on such a small label cause if in a perfect world songs like "Embrace The Depth" would have heavy rotation on the radio instead of some whinny crap like Chevelle. If you liked the previous two Prong albums, any of the crappy Nu Metal bands I mentioned or if you were one of those who are still mad that the new Helmet album sucked so much then you would definitely dig Scorpio Rising. Cause Prong stuck to their guns and kept their Metal heavy this time around.

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