GET OVER IT! It’s Prong. What do you expect?
Formed in 1986, the original lineup was Tommy Victor, Mike Kirkland and Ted Parsons. Victor was the sound guy at CBGB’s, Kirkland worked door and Parsons came into the picture as drummer for The Swans. After getting it all together, Prong released two albums on their own and soon caught Epic Records’ attention. In the beginning they were known for less industrial metal and more hardcore punk sounds. Over time their sound design changed up a bit, but much everything else was the same.
The ’90s was a time of music you either loved or hated. Prong is one of the bands that cemented its history in that ecae. After disbanding in 1997, fans thought they had heard the last of them. But, Prong is back and has released three albums since. However, the metal media has not been kind. So many remember “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” and continue to respond, “What happened to that?”
Get it straight; Prong (other than their lineup) has not changed much-– music has, both in radio quality and in our heavy coinsure society. Heavy music has branched into so many new variables of our small, discerning culture. And Prong was never a band that was known for significantly making strides in any such genres. At best they were known for one song and blended well with many, many bands from the time period that allowed them great exposure.
In short, Prong is the classic underdog that has always been one of the more simply constructed heavy bands. The distain for this album and the members in general is disturbing. A community of metalheads and heavy music fans are all gunning for the same lame excuse of inexplicable, unfaltering music. Some musicians are good at what they do and choose not to branch out. It was good enough all those years ago– now what? Too much pop radio and metal subcategories to choose from you can’t reconsider a blast from the past with a new album? Shut up. We know Prong is a simple, heavy band. Their sound is cross-referential and they have been around long enough to influence such names as Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. That’s a solid.
Ruining Lives has a definite and repetitive nature, more so than the usual beautifully awful simplicity of Prong lyrics, but it works. Complimentary heavy hitting drums and solid support backing vocals with (few but present) guitar riffs and consistent metal driving into your eardrum is headbanging quality. With that, though, the bass lines receive little notice, just some very small cues of its notable presence at all. The way the bass melds with the drums is very generic metal style.
The composition of such complaints can be easily heard in the first song: “Turnover”: “Great power / Great range … I need to be reborn.” It is easy to listen to if you’re in the mood for some nondescript heavy music and have far too much respect for yourself to take a step over to the radio popular “Bro-Metal” bands like Godsmack or Disturbed, Ruining Lives is a very happy medium.
“The Barriers” is just like “Turnover” and “Absence Of Light” and a bunch more. There isn’t too much separating the songs from each other. “Chamber of Thought” can be easily lost in the confusion of similarity. “Windows Shut,” however, is perplexing. The music was great, the intro is challenging and disturbing. “It’s getting very hard to change,” Victor writes, clearly focusing our attention. Dully noted, Tommy.
The title song finally proposes some exciting and notable guitar trickery. And “The Book of Change” is heavy and fast, and seems the most distinguishable in the beginning. But it’s still just like all the rest. At least with this track there are some clean and crazy guitars. “Come To Realize” has some time change that separate it from the rest of the album.
The music of Ruining Lives has a predictable quality, obviously. It’s always simple and angry, sure. But there is little separating Prong from a great many bands out there already. Simply because of their history, we will not see Prong fade into oblivion; they’ve been around too long and have influenced too many (who then influence others) to be obscure, but they have not made a comeback. It’s hard to say that they will.