Ruining Lives Is Prong’s Best Album Yet

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV Records

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV Records

This is our best album yet. THIS is our best album yet. Who hasn’t heard these words uttered time and again by any number of artists, groups and bands? That phrase is tossed around far too much today. It seems like every artist, band and group feels their latest album is their best album yet. Yet it seems like so many albums from said artists, groups, and bands sound like their previous releases. However, in the case of Ruining Lives, the latest album from Prong, that line is more than proper. Prong founding member Tommy Victor has worked hard to get his band to where it is today, all the while staying just under the mainstream radar. Ruining Lives could potentially be the album that finally breaks Prong through that barrier. One of the reasons for this could be that Victor manned the boards himself on this album and invited Steve Evetts (Skinlab, Sepultura, The Dillinger Escape Plan) to lend his talents, too. The end result of their work is an album the more than deserves to be on any metal purist’s list of the year’s top ten best new hard rock and metal albums by year’s end.

Ruining Lives is an album that more than deserves to be called the best album by far from Prong. The main reason for that is that long-time fans will be able to pick out elements of so many of Prong’s previous records throughout the course of its eleven total tracks. Right from the album’s outset, long-time fans will be transported back to 1994 and Prong’s hit album Rude Awakening. The driving guitar line has obvious elements from that album. But there is also an obvious growth from that point, too. Victor’s vocals sound as strong as ever as he sings, “Great power/Great rage/So deafening/Turning it over/It’s oppressing/More power/More gain/There’s more for me.” The point of Victor’s guitar chops are just as strong. That’s especially evident as he breaks into the song’s old school style guitar solo. The speed and accuracy of Victor’s playing and his vocal power show that he is at the top of his game here. Alexei Rodriguez’s drumming and Tony Campos’ bass work are just as solid. They add their own touch to this song, making it all the more pummeling.

The energy exuded by ‘Turnover’ is just the beginning for Victor and his band mates on this album. That applies in every sense of the word. The trio barely gives listeners time to catch their breath before launching into the album’s second song ‘The Barriers.’ This speed/thrash metal style song is a full throttle song that is the purest of fodder for any mosh pit in a live setting. As with the album’s opener, Victor and company have never sounded better. This song makes Prong sound like a band reborn and Victor specifically a man reborn. Victor sings in this song, “This must be a dream/Can’t believe this is happening/This can’t be real/Now at their feet/Gonna have to kneel/Reach out for a remedy/Searching for transparency/Barriers of fear/All built up right through the years.” He sounds as strong as he did in his younger years. And this song is not the only one exhibiting this, either.

Fans of Prong’s older material will be just as impressed by the work of Victor and his current band mates on the likes of the album’s title track. Victor himself noted in an interview of this song that it has a feel and sound similar to that of Force Fed. The controlled chaos of Victor’s shredding combined with Campos’ full on low end and Rodriguez’s equally solid timekeeping will definitely make this song a favorite of both long-time fans and those that are less familiar with the band’s body of work. It serves as one more example of how much Victor has grown over the course of his career. Because of its link to Prong’s early days and its “cleaner” more focused sound, it shows just how much Prong has yet to offer. And with any luck, Tommy Victor and his current band mates will hear that too and release even more Prong albums in the years to come.

Ruining Lives will be available April 28th via Steamhammer/SPV Records. The band is currently in the midst of a European tour in support of the album. Its current schedule keeps it overseas through August. Audiences can find the band’s most current tour schedule online at http://www.facebook.com/prongmusic and http://prongmusic.com. Audiences can check out both website s to keep up with the latest updates from the band, too. And the album itself can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ruining-Lives-incl-bonus-poster/dp/B00INXSIG4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1397036396&sr=1-1&keywords=prong+ruining+lives. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Heaven’s Cry Re-Issue Shows Band’s Versatility, Influences

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Canadian Prog-metal act Heaven’s Cry will issue two of its classic albums next Tuesday, January 8th.  The first of the pair is the band’s 2003 album, Primal Power AddictionPrimal Power Addiction opens solidly with a rather Prong style piece in the song, ‘Komma.’  Vocalist/guitarist Pierre St-Jean even sounds eerily like Prong front man Tommy Victor in this song as a result of the song’s mixing.  The song’s somewhat cryptic lyrics aside, what really stands out in this song is the precision of the band’s musicianship.  Drummer Rene Lacharite’s timing is spot on.  His ability to keep time while maintaining such polyrhythmic patterns more than shows his talent.  And the control of the guitars both during the heavier and more subdued sections of the song give it even more flare.

As impressive as ‘Komma’ is, it Primal Power Addiction offers plenty more for fans of Heaven’s Cry.  Fans will also appreciate and enjoy the band’s cover of the classic Midnight Oil tune, ‘Beds are Burning.’  Even turned into a prog-rock style piece, it still holds up to the original.  For that matter, it might even be a little better than Midnight Oil’s take on the song from its 1987 album, Dust and Diesel.  It has the same kick as the original.  But what it does here is it gives the song an extra little spice, updating it for a whole new generation.  For that, Heaven’s Cry should be proud of their cover of this rock classic.  And it makes for a fitting end to the musical journey on which listeners embark with this album.

The band’s cover of ‘Beds are Burning’ is impressive to say the least.  It shows just one of the band’s influences.  It also profiles for a moment, the band’s versatility.  Though by the time listeners get through this re-issue, they will have already seen just how versatile the band is.  Whereas the band started off with a rather Prong style work, other pieces such as ‘One of Twenty-Four’, ‘Divisions’, and ‘Waves’ seem to show influences the likes of Alice in Chains, Dream Theater, and even Nevermore.  St-Jean’s vocals greatly resemble that of Nevermore front man Warrel Dane in both ‘One of twenty-Four’ and ‘Waves.’  And the influences of the aforementioned bands are evident throughout each opus.  They, along with this album’s other tracks make for an album that any fan of the prog-metal genre will enjoy increasingly with each listen.  Primal Power Addiction will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, January 8th.  It can be ordered direct online via the Prosthetic Records store, http://www.indiemerch.com/prostheticrecords/item/17422

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Knotfest Performance Times Announced

Organizers behind the first annual Knotfest concert festival have announced the performance times for the two day festival.  Slipknot will headline the festival both days.  The band will take the stage at 9:30pm this Friday and play until 11pm.  Saturday night, the band will take to the stage at 10:20 and will play until midnight.  Lamb of God headlines the second stage both nights.  The band, who was previously uncertain for the festival until very recently, will start its performance Friday night at 8:25pm.  It will take the second stage at 9:15pm Saturday night.

Prong and Dillinger Escape Plan will share main stage duties, with Prong opening the main stage Friday afternoon at 3:55pm.  Dillinger Escape Plan opens the main stage Saturday afternoon at 4:30. 

Machine Head, Deftones, Serj Tankian, Gojira, Cannibal Corpse and others will also be on hand.  To get a full rundown of performance times, fans can go online to http://www.knotfest.com.  Fans can also get all the latest from Slipknot online at http://www.slipknot1.com.  Tickets and VIP packages are still available.  They can be purchased online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/KNOTFEST-tickets/artist/1741056 and http://vipnation.com/programs/knotfest-2012.  Hotel accommodations can be made at http://knotfest.com/aug-17.  More information on camping options is available at http://www.tempotickets.com/knotfestcamping.

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LOG Frontman Blythe Freed, Band To Perform At Knotfest

The news has already spread throughout the music world.  Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe has been released from a jail in the Czech Republic.  As a result of Blythe’s release, Lamb of God has been confirmed for the upcoming Knotfest August 17th and 18th. 

Knotfest will perform Council Bluffs, IA on the 17th and Somerset, WI/Minneapolis, MN on the 18th.  Organizers of the Knotfest commented on this breaking news saying, “We are honored to present Lamb of God and thrilled to learn that Randy will be onstage for what is sure to be an amazing moment at Knotfest.” 

Also scheduled to perform at Knotfest are:  Deftones, Machine Head, Serj Tankian, Cannibal Corpse, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Urge, Prong, Gojira, and a whole lot more.

Information on tickets for Knotfest is available online at http://ticketmaster.com/KNOTFEST-tickets/artist/1741056.  and for information on VIP packages for Knotfest, go to http://vipnation.com/programs/knotfest-2012.  For more information on Knotfest, go to http://www.knotfest.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Slipknot announce “Hits” collection, new app, Knotfest

NEW YORK, NY–The nine man metal machine that is known simply as Slipknot has made an announcement for its fans.  The band will release its first “hits” collection, “antennas to Hell” July 24th.  It will be released via Roadrunner Records.  The compilation will include nineteen hits that span its current catalogue.  Inlcuded in the upcoming release will be a bonus live recording of the band’s performance from the 2009 Download Festival.  To sweeten the deal even more, the band will officially release its brand new “Wear The Mask” app alongside the release of its new “hits” collection.  The app will allow fans to creat their own mask, and connect with other Slipknot fans all over the world.

The upcoming “Hits” collection and app are only part of the good news for the Maggot Corps worldwide.  The band has also announced that it will hold its inaugural Knotfest August 17th and 18th.  The festival will be held in Cuoncil Bluffs, Iowa on the 17th and Minneapolis, MN on the 18th.  Slipknot will be joined by Lamb of God, Deftones, Dethklok, Gojira, Cannibal Corpse, Prong, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Serj Tankian, and loads more.

Along with the upcoming Knotfest shows, Slpknot is also one of the leading acts on this year’s edition of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour.  fans can keep up with all the latest dates and news from Slipknot online at http://www.slipknot1.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/slipknot, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com.  Fans will be able to download the “Wear The Mask” app at http://wearthemask.Slipknot1.com

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Prong “carves” out another of 2012’s best metal records

“Carved Into Stone” is a fitting title for Prong’s newst record.  That’s because even though this band has never had major mainstream its reputation has already been, well, carved into stone.  Its reputation was cemented long ago.  This new album is just one more feather in Tommy Victor’s cap.  It’s one more bonus for long time fans of Prong, too.  “Carved Into Stone” is such a standout album in that it takes the best of its previous albums, “Cleansing”, “Rude Awakening” and “Prove You Wrong” and fine tunes them.  The end result is an album that both fans of Prong and metal fans in general will love. 

“Carved Into Stone” is a no nonsense full throttle metal album.  It’s an album made by metalheadsfor metalheads.  Its blistering Nothingface-esque opener, ‘Eternal Heat’ hits listeners right in the face, with no mercy.  [Tommy] Victor shreds through this song as sharply as any  guitarist half his age.  That combined with drummer Alexei Rodriguez’s thousand mile per hour drumming makes ‘Eternal Heat’ a perfect opener here.  Ted Parsons was a good fit for the band during his stint behind the kit.  But Alexei Rodriguez is the best fit that the band has ever had. 

The energy doesn’t let up one bit after ‘Eternal Heat.’  If anything, the band keeps the adrenaline flowing straight through the rest of the album.  Along the way, fans even get a hint of the band’s older albums with the likes of, ‘Revenge..Best Served Cold’, ‘Put Myself to Sleep’, and the album’s closer, ‘Reinvestigate.’

‘Revenge..Best served Cold’ is one of the album’s most familiar songs.  It pays direct homage to the band’s hit song, ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’ from the album, “Cleansing.’  As amazing as that song still is today, ‘Revenge…Best Served Cold’ is one of those that actually improves upon the original.  It’s even more intense than the original.  What’s more, its just as much an arena anthem style piece that it makes for a perfect radio single.  Of course, it’s just one song of many that makes for wonderful representation of this album. 

‘Put Myself to Sleep’  is another example of the growth of Prong over the course of its existence.  This is another of the album’s songs that harkens back to the band’s past while  looking forward at the same time.  ‘Put Myself to Sleep’ sounds like it would have been a perfect fit on the band’s 1996 album “Rude Awakening.”  And as with ‘Revenge…Best Served Cold’, it actually improves on the original.  It reminds listeners of where the band has been, and where Tommy Victor seems to want the band to go.

‘Reinvestigate’ is another of this album’s tracks that hint back to the days of “Rude Awakening.”  It has that similar feel throughout, without actually ripping off said material.  It shows that while the band has good material in its back catalogue, Tommy Victor seems to have every intention of taking Prong and keeping it rolling hard into the twenty-first century.  And having had the motivation and backing of producer Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence, etc.), this time out, this album may well lead Prong to many more albums before Tommy Victor finally calls it a career.  Hopefully that day won’t be any time soon as “Carved Into Stone” hints that Prong has much more to offer its fans.  However, when and if that day comes, there will definitely be no doubt that Tommy Victor and Prong will have “carved” the band’s place in music history deep into stone.

The band is currently making its way across Europe in support of the new album right now.  Though U.S. fans haven’t been forgotten.  The band will return stateside this Summer to spread the intensity of its new album, beginning in July.  Even fans in North Carolina will get to see the band, when it makes a stop at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, July 20th.  The band will be joined by Clutch at that show.  For more information on Prong and to follow the latest from the band, go online to http://www.prongmusic.com, http://www.facebook.com/prongmusic, and http://twitter.com/prongmusic.