Prong’s Latest LP Is “Absolutely” One Of 2016’s Best New Hard Rock And Metal Albums

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPC

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPC

2015 was quite the busy year for the hard rock and metal community. From the year’s opening to its end there was little downtime for hard rock and metal fans. New albums from the likes of Slayer, Sevendust, and Between The Buried and Me, and new EPs from the likes of Amaranthe, The Devil Wears Prada, and Adrenaline Mob kept those noted audiences entertained. And they are just a small sample of all of the hard rock and metal albums that were released last year. Now with the New Year upon us the hard rock and metal community have picked right back up where they left off last year. Already new releases from the likes of Primal Fear, Dream Theater, Anthrax, and Megadeth are set to be released in the next few weeks or so. Even Metallica allegedly has a new album in the works. Though at the time of this post it has no set release date. So while the weekly sales ads from Best Buy and Target are typically bare around this time of year in terms of new music releases, that emptiness is deceiving at least to a point. There are already plenty of records due out before the usual March push. One of those records not already noted comes from veteran guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor. The album X – No Absolutes is Victor’s latest release under the Prong moniker. The album bears an ironic title. That is because it is absolutely a great start to 2016 for Victor and his current band mates and for the hard rock and metal community in whole. The main reason that this record is such a great start to the year both for Prong and for the hard rock and metal community is the album’s musical content. That will be discussed at more length shortly. The lyrical content presented throughout the thirteen-song record is just as important to the record’s whole. Victor presents some interesting concepts in each of the record’s compositions in terms of their lyrical content. The combination of both noted elements makes X – No Absolutes a record that is absolutely some of Tommy Victor’s best work to date as the lead creative force behind Prong. Of course they are just part of what makes this record so impressive. The album’s overall sequencing rounds out its presentation. The solid sequencing will keep listeners engaged from start to finish. That is thanks to the fact that the album’s energy barely lets up save for a couple of points. That will be touched on at more length later. All things considered X – No Absolutes proves in the end to be a record that is absolutely one of Prong’s best records to date and one of the year’s absolutely best new hard rock and metal albums.

Prong’s latest full-length studio recording is an aptly titled album. That is because despite its title, it is a record that is full of absolutes. It is absolutely one of the band’s best albums to date. That is thanks in large part to founding member and front man Tommy Victor’s attention to detail. Being absolutely one of the band’s best albums to date, it is also an absolutely easy choice for any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums even though the year has just started. The main way in which it proves itself to be such an impressive new album is its overall musical makeup. Whether or not audiences are familiar with Prong’s extensive body of work–front man/founder Tommy Victor has released ten full-length albums, one cover album, at least two live recordings, and any number of singles and EPs–they will find that in terms of its musical makeup there is plenty to like about the album’s musical content. From start to finish, this record is loaded with plenty of old school thrash riffs a la Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth. There is also a more modern sound somewhat akin to perhaps that of Fear Factory in the form of ‘Belief System.’ Listeners will note that similarity thanks to the song’s heavy, crunching, down-tuned guitars and equally pummeling drums and bass line. For all of the full-on energy presented over the course of Prong’s new album there is at least one moment that stands out here. That moment comes in the form of the album’s mid-point ‘Do Nothing.’ In comparison to the rest of the album’s offerings, this melodic hard rock piece is reserved in comparison to the rest of the album’s offerings and in comparison to every other song that Victor has composed for and included in Prong’s previous records. Considering this it could be said of this song that it is the most radio-friendly Prong song that Victor has ever composed. It could be the song that finally breaks Prong into the mainstream after so many years. Of course that is provided it gets the right support from rock radio programmers. The same can be said of ‘With Dignity.’ This song boasts a very mainstream sound unlike anything that Victor has composed for any of Prong’s previous albums. If the noted sounds aren’t enough for fans, there is still plenty more to like such as ‘Ice Runs Through My Veins.’ This song’s sound would make it a good fit on Prong’s 1996 album Rude Awakening.’ ‘Worth Pursuing’ takes listeners way back to the days of ‘Prove You Wrong’ and ‘Beg To Differ’ as will ‘Without Words.’ Regardless of which song(s) listeners choose as their favorite(s) from this record, it can be said of the album’s varied sounds more than make it an album that every Prong fan should have in his or her own music library. Collectively, the various sounds presented throughout this album prove to be just one part of what makes X – No Absolutes absolutely some of Tommy Victor’s best work to date and the album in whole one of Prong’s best albums to date. Of course they are just part of what makes it such an impressive album. The album’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall presentation as its musical content.

The musical content presented throughout the course of X – No Absolutes is an undeniably important part of the album’s overall presentation. There is material that will take audiences back to Prong’s earlier years alongside more modern, mainstream material. There’s even plenty of old school thrash metal for listeners regardless of their familiarity with the band’s body of work. All of that material gives listeners more than enough to appreciate about this album. Of course it is just part of what makes X – No Absolutes an absolutely impressive new album from Prong. The album’s lyrical content plays just as important of a part in its presentation as its musical makeup. That is evident right from the album’s opener ‘Ultimate Authority.’ In terms of its lyrical content, it comes across as something of a socio-politically charged piece. That can be argued thanks to Victor singing in the song’s chorus, “The consequences of the will of the right/Disharmony within the law of the light/Deserving everything that you’re owed…The ultimate authority/Correction that is due.” He goes on to sing in the chorus’ reprise, “Ultimate authority/You’re exceptions to the rule/Ultimate authority/Corruption that is due/Ultimate authority.” While these aren’t the song’s only lyrics, they do paint a picture that is vivid enough to leave listeners talking. The picture in question definitely seems to lean in the direction of it being that of a commentary. That is just this critic’s own interpretation of course. So it should not necessarily be taken as gospel. It could easily be centered on another topic. Regardless, the fact that Victor could craft such a thought-provoking set of lyrics here is more than enough proof of why its lyrical content is just as important to the song (and the album in whole) as its musical content.

The lyrical content behind ‘Belief System’ is another example of why this album’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall presentation as its musical content. Musically speaking, this is a heavy song very much in the vein of Fear Factory and other acts of that ilk. The song’s lyrical content sees (or hears) Victor singing, “The will to survive/Ever striving/The will to succeed/Forever climbing/Never arriving/To fulfill my need/There’s no defeat/There’s no retreat/I must to succeed/No compromising…something to believe in/There’s no retreat.” This is just one part of the song’s lyrical make up. but it leaves little to no doubt as to the message that Victor is trying to get across here. It is a message of self-determination. It tells listeners to never give up in life no matter what. There is always something to believe in. Such a positive message coupled with equally fiery musical content makes this song an even harder-hitting piece that is certain to be a fan favorite.

‘Belief System’ and ‘Ultimate Authority’ both show in their own way why the lyrical content presented throughout Prong’s new record is such an important part to the album’s overall presentation. Both take on different topics. And both do so in relatively clear fashion, too. It shows that Victor doesn’t stick to just one topic or another at any point throughout the album. This remains the case throughout the record, too. ‘With Dignity’ proves that. Victor sings in this song, “Somehow I will find a way/Somehow I will find escape/I’ll find a way/Won’t attach myself again…I’ll find a way not to entice myself again/Somehow I’ll find a way…How do you summarize/That you’ve been living a lie/Walk away with dignity/It’s best to step aside/Fight for a better life/And reappear/Walk away with dignity.” These deeply introspective lines alone are certain to generate their own share of discussion among listeners. Is this Victor coming from some personal experience or is it something else? He goes on to sing, “Right here I hope to remain/Right here I am not afraid/Hope to remain in a place that will amaze/Into a place that we came/Replacing all that you say/I hope to remain in a state that’s self-contained.” These lines make this song come across as a rather personal composition. It would definitely be interesting to hear from Victor himself to learn the exact topic at its center. It almost comes across as Victor writing (and singing) about having been in a very tough place in life at one point and just needing to step away and gather himself before making his return. Once again, this is only the interpretation of this critic. It does not mean that this interpretation is the right or only interpretation. With any luck it will prove to be the correct interpretation. Regardless, the fact that it is such a deep piece in terms of its lyrical content shows once more why the album’s overall lyrical content is just as important as its musical content. It is hardly the only remaining example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, too. Any of the other ten songs presented in this album could be cited as examples of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, too. Together with the album’s musical content, both elements show clearly why X – No Absolutes is absolutely an easy, early pick for this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums and why it is also absolutely one of Prong’s best records to date. Of course it still is not the only remaining element to note in the album’s presentation. The album’s sequencing is just as important to note as its musical and lyrical content.

The musical and lyrical content presented over the course of Prong’s new album are both key elements in the album’s overall presentation. While they are both important to the album’s presentation in their own way, they are just part of the album’s presentation. Its sequencing cannot be ignored in a close examination. As previously noted, Prong offers something old and something new in its new album both in terms of its musical and lyrical content. That mix of material is balanced quite well from beginning to end, too. The balance of the album’s heavier, more adrenaline-fueled musical content to its more ” reserved, mainstream” sound keeps the energy at just the right levels throughout. The lyrical content presented in each song will keep listeners just as engaged. That is because Victor tackles so many different topics from one song to the next, never sitting too long on just one topic. Because he doesn’t, he leaves listeners waiting to hear what is in store next. In turn, listeners will remain just as engaged as they will with the album’s musical side. Keeping all of this in mind X – No Absolutes presents to listeners an album that is almost unlike anything that Tommy Victor has ever presented under the Prong moniker. That is not a bad thing, though. It is an album that presents the band at its most focused point. That focus reveals an album that is one of Prong’s best records to date and a record that is absolutely an easy, early pick for this year’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and heavy metal albums.

Tommy Victor and his current band mates in Prong have crafted in its new album X – No Absolutes a record that is rather ironically titled. That is because it is an album almost unlike anything that the band’s fans have ever heard from Tommy Victor. That is just as obvious in the album’s musical content, which presents familiar older sounds as well as more modern and even mainstream, radio ready songs throughout its thirteen-song body. The album’s musical content gives audiences something relatively new, too. That is because the topics presented throughout the record run the gamut from seemingly very personal (as in ‘With Dignity’) to the socio-political in the album’s opener ‘Ultimate Authority’ to the positive in ‘Belief System’ and points in between along the way. The sequencing of all of this material rounds out the record’s presentation. The album’s solid sequencing keeps the album’s energy expertly balanced from one song to the next. That applies mainly to the album’s musical content. The album’s sequencing even plays into the album’s lyrical content. The topics that are presented and their energy will keep listeners just as engaged as the songs’ musical content. The end result of that attention to detail results in an album that will keep listeners engaged from beginning to end. In listening to the album all the way through, listeners will agree that regardless of their familiarity with Prong’s body of work, this work is some of the band’s best work to date and absolutely one of the year’s best new hard rock and metal offerings. X – No Absolutes will be available Friday, February 5th. More information on the album is available online along with all of Prong’s latest news at:




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Prong’s First-Ever Covers Record Is A Must For Long-Time Fans And The Metal Masses Alike

Courtesy:  Steamhammer Records/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer Records/SPV

Tommy Victor has spent the better part of his adult life in the music industry. For nearly thirty years, Victor has been releasing music under the moniker of hard rock/metal band Prong. Through all of the band’s ups and downs, Victor has pushed on releasing new material from Prong. He has released, over the course of that time nine full length studio albums, two live albums, one remix album, four EPs, and a number of singles and music videos. For all of those releases, there is still one item that until now Victor hasn’t handled under the Prong moniker. That item is the obligatory covers album. Next week, Victor will release Prong’s first ever covers album in the form of Songs From The Black Hole. The ten track album will be released via Steamhammer/SPV. This collection of covers is a great addition to any long-time Prong fan’s music collection. That is obvious right off the top with the band’s cover of Discharge’s ‘Doomsday. The high adrenaline song grabs listeners instantly and refuses to let go. Sisters of Mercy’s ‘Vision Thing’ follows ‘Doomsday’ and is one more example of what makes this album a must have for any long-time Prong fan. Those fans that are familiar with Prong’s body of work will hear the influence of SOM on Tommy Victor when listening to this song. And much the same can be said of Prong’s cover of Black Flag’s ‘The Bars.’ Stylistically speaking, it’s easy to hear Black Flag’s influence on Victor throughout Prong’s albums. It’s not the only obvious influence either. The inclusion of songs from the likes of Killing Joke, Bad Brains, ad Butthole Surfers shows Prong’s roots just as clearly. And much the same can be said of the compilation’s remaining four tracks. The entire record taken into consideration, it proves to be more than just another obligatory collection of songs flung together to fulfill a contractual obligation. Rather it is a record that celebrates some of rock’s greatest bands and at the same time one of the industry’s most important and influential yet least known bands. If not for the fact that it is indeed a covers album, it would have otherwise been justifiably named by this critic as one of the best new hard rock and metal albums of the year.

It’s incredible to think that roughly twenty-seven years after the release of its debut album Force Fed, Prong has not released even one covers album. In comparison to the countless covers albums released by Prong’s counterparts in both the mainstream and underground, it becomes even more incredible. For that reason alone, founder and sole original member Tommy Victor is to be commended for holding his ground. Audiences that pick up this record will agree in listening to Songs From The Black Hole that Victor is just as worthy of applause for the covers chosen for this record. Right off the top, the album grabs listeners and refuses to let go with its cover of Discharge’s ‘Doomsday.’ The song title sounds ominous, like a Soundgarden song or a piece from some black metal band. But the reality of the song is that it is actually a high-energy war protest piece that will have any metal purist wanting to get a circle pit started in their own home all while making audiences really think. Tommy [Victor] sings, “And now the end is near/The end is near/It’s time to say our last goodbyes…Is it a reality or just a nightmare…/Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide/No escape, no escape/Is it reality or just a nightmare?” The song’s seemingly politically charged lyrics coupled with the talents of Victor’s band mates–bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Art Cruz–make ‘Doomsday’ a great addition to this record regardless of regardless of its placement in the album’s sequencing. It isn’t the only song worth noting that makes this record so enjoyable for Prong’s fans and the metal masses, either. The album’s second song, Sisters of Mercy’s ‘Vision Thing’ is another solid addition to the record.

Prong’s cover of ‘Vision Thing’ is just as solid an addition to SFTBH as the record’s opener, Discharge’s ‘Doomsday.’ Sisters of Mercy’s original take on ‘Vision Thing’ has a decidedly 80s rock sound. Yet despite this, it still manages to stand out from all of the songs churned out by the hair metal bands of its age. Its sound is more similar to that of Billy Idol than say Poison stylistically speaking. Victor and compay somehow managed to keep the song’s original style all while mixing it with the band’s own updated sound to make for yet another solid addition to this surprisingly enjoyable collection of covers. As with SFTBH’s opener, this song is just as apt to leave audiences thinking as deeply as rocking out. Victor sings about what sounds like a drug addict in a hotel room getting high in the song’s first verse, singing, “Two thousand hamburg four/And colours I ain’t seen before/It’s a small world and it smells funny/I’d buy another if it wasn’t for the money.” This definitely comes across as a commentary of sorts about someone getting high on something. The seeming reference to JFK’s assassination that follows will generate just as much discussion as the verse’s opening lines if not more. The song’s closing lines say plenty, though seeming to clear up any questions that might have been left. Victor sings in the song’s closing lines, “What do we need to make our world come alive/What does it take to make us sing/While we’re waiting for the next one to arrive/One million points of light/One billion dollar vision thing.” These lines come across as a statement concerning the need for things to change considering the state of the world (I.E. drug users everywhere, murderers, etc.). Again, this song’s mix of musical and lyrical substance makes this piece another solid addition to a record that is surprisingly enjoyable for Prong’s first-ever covers LP.

Both Prong’s cover of ‘Doomsday’ and of ‘Vision Thing’ are solid additions to SFTBH. By themselves, both songs present their own element of enjoyment. When taken into consideration with the record’s other covers, both songs combine with those covers to show why for a first-time effort, Prong’s new covers record is a must have for any of its long-time fans. ‘Doomsday’ and ‘Vision Thing’ aren’t proof enough of this argument, then the band’s cover of Black Flag’s ‘The Bars’ is sure to convince audiences. PRong’s cover of this hardcore classic is a near spot on re-working. What’s more, there’s a certain element to it that harkens back to the days of Prong’s 1994 album Cleansing. Lyrically speaking, ‘The Bars’ is a rather dark song. It seems to focus on a figure with some rather troubling inner turmoil. As Victor sings, “Everytime I see I got my hands wrapped around the bars/I can’t shut off my mind/And now I’ve waited/My hands are wrapped around the bars/The bars, the lies, the lies, lies, lies/Are trapped behind the bars/My mind hates my body/My body hates my soul/I close my eyes and fight/Inside my own black hole.” The figure’s own torn feelings apparently seem to center around a young woman that took her own life by jumping out of a window. It is hardly the most positive lyrical content. But it is deep and deeply moving. Prong’s take on the song, musically speaking is a perfect match for those lyrics. The combination of both elements exhibit exactly why ‘The Bars’ is one more great addition to SFTBH.

‘The Bars,’ ‘Doomsday,’ and ‘Vision Thing’ are all positive additions to SFTBH. They are just a small glimpse into what makes this first-ever covers collection from Prong a must have for the band’s long-time fans. The record’s other seven covers each offer their own enjoyment for fans, too. All ten of the compilation’s songs taken into consideration, SFTBH proves in the end to be a record that was well worth the wait whether listeners are fans of Prong or the band’s covered by Prong here. SFTBH will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, March 31st. Beginning April 17th, Prong will hit the road in support of SFTBH with a sixteen-date European tour that runs through May 3rd. After wrapping the European leg of its tour Prong will take off the rest of the summer to charge up for a U.S. tour that kicks off October 23rd in Ramona, California. The 41-date North American tour will take the band across America and Canada throughout the summer and into the winter, wrapping up December 7th at the famed Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood, California. The band’s full tour schedule is available online along with all of the latest updates from the band at:




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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 and 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 To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at