(Metal Descent says “No alcohol needed”)
Fast, thrashed, and satisfying, listening to Prong’s Ruining Lives was like attending a good local metal show with a complementary mix of genres. Thrash was the unifying force but elements of progressive, alternative, and technical metal were in evidence. The album improves as it progresses and you don’t have to add alcohol. From the first track “Turnover,” a thrashy, catchy tune with a technical flavor, to “Limitations” which is an alternative cookie with a thrash center, this album has to be their most commercially appealing since their return in 2002.
“The Barriers” was a Social Distortion on speed while “The Book of Change” and “Come To Realize” alternated thrash with groovy verses or choruses. “Chamber of Thought” was classic thrash and even better, it had Prong’s hardcore boot-print all over it. These are the heavier songs reminiscent of Prong’s hardcore days and still the riffs appealed to my melodic sweet spot without sacrificing grit.
“Remove and Separate Self,” “Windows Shut,” and “Absence of Light” were the tracks where Prong explored a catchier, more alternative side of the guitar work while the title track, “Ruining Lives,” began with slow and dark minor chord progressions that moved into head-banging deliciousness at the chorus. As for the clean vocals, I wouldn’t sign Tommy Victor up for the Voice anytime soon, but his singing fits the music Prong plays.
Ruining Lives fulfills the promise made by Carved Into Stone and carries forward many of the elements that I enjoyed about the sacred cow of “Snap Your Fingers-Snap Your Neck.”Instead of following the industry’s rules of sticking to type, Prong bent them to suit with a confidence that struts through each song. There is more variation in the melodies, a greater tension to the songs, and more satisfying resolutions. “Self Will Run Riot” is the only song where a creative uncertainty peeked through and even so, I put it down to the fear everyone experiences when deviating from tradition.
Prong’s sound has changed over the years, as it should, but there is still evidence of their hardcore roots and an adherence to the thrash ethos. Die hard fans will gripe about the new twist on an old formula and the slick production. Hearing it with fresh ears untainted by the “good ol’ days” or preconceived notions of what I should enjoy to be cool, I can say that Ruining Lives is a continuation of the evolution of Prong’s signature sound that shows a willingness to experiment and to commit to where this chosen path may lead.
Out of all the PRONG albums, which is your favorite and why? Edumicate me in the comments.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can check out her personal blog at http://iokirkwood.com.