Album Review: PRONG X - No Absolutes
Most long-lasting and successful bands would agree that the most productive and prolific choice to make in their career is the decision towards the multi-faceted option of styles. Being branded as 'crossover' or bi-genre (yeah, I made it up) has the potential to reach a variety of demographics, which may either cause tension or lead to a perfect storm.
Naturally, Prong was one of those bands that excelled in such a daunting task. The need for a musical merging effort had been brewing for awhile, yet the late 80's/early 90's is where the trio stepped forward to unite many. The leather jacket headbangers, piercings n' tattoos galore punks, and combat boot kicking nut-jobs all held hands in the pit to sing the groovy hardcore thrash version of "Kumbaya" (or at least that's how I've always imagined it). With a scale of their stylistic approaches measuring out to melody-driven wall-of-sound pieces, hardcore influenced mosh songs, industrial tinged anthems, and intertwined mixtures of the three, the output of the band infected the underground.
The majority of Prong albums have that obvious single or clear hit song represented. Examples being "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" from 1994's Cleansing or the more recent Ruining Lives' "Remove, Seperate Self." And sure, I'll agree that it'd be short-sighted to define those LPs by one track as in most cases, there is a constant likability throughout. This theory applies for this latest album with the title track being the standout and the opener being a close second.
In regards to the other ten tracks, they mostly fit the scale that I previously expressed. "In Spite of Hindrances" and "Ice Runs Through My Veins" depict the hardcore and industrial side respectively with a stuck-in-your-head melodic quality. And what's this, a ballad?! These guys never quite struck me as ones to attempt this, yet they pull it off well on "Do Nothing." Even the closing track, "With Dignity," is rather slow-paced in comparison to the majority of their catalog, however still manages to execute a large dynamic range. A few pieces take numerous listens to exactly gel with, while lacking a unique substance, but the energy and attitude makes up for that flaw.
Regardless of the fact that Prong has never been a group to attract mainstream attention, I find the notion that they continue such non-conventional approaches to their music to be commendable. An indication of this rests in the aspect that the last official release, Songs from the Black Hole, consisted of the least of radio-friendly artists' covers. Of course, when comparing this LP to their first few, the differences are light and day, nonetheless the whimsical nature that exists in their later material is rooted in their early records.
At this point, it is fair to assume that Tommy Victor is content enough with the longevity of Prong's career and his position in Danzig that he has the right to do as he wishes with his musical projects. I have much respect for the band's past works, but not much presented on this record holds groundbreaking characteristics. However, after multiple listens, the overall tone and mood becomes apparent. Although no barriers were split, the engaging components allow the listening experience to be simply put… fun. Plenty of progressive metal groups out there can try all they want to expand horizons, but there is a void for straight-forward gratifications and X – No Absolutes promptly and undeniably fills that empty hole.