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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