Prong “Zero Days” by Adam McCann
SPV/Steamhammer Records 2017
Countdown to Zero
Tommy Victor is somewhat of a legend within the circles of thrash metal, hardcore and crossover. Under his leadership, Victor has guided Prong through both the good and bad times and is the man solely responsible for the ever evolving sound of Prong through his vision. With yet another line-up shuffle in 2016 following the release of the previous Prong album ‘X – No Absolutes’, a process that will be familiar to all Prong fans, sees the arrival of former Ritual Sacrifice bassist Mike Longworth who replaces Jason Christopher after 5 years, with the arrival of Longworth meaning that he joins the ever present Victor and drummer Art Cruz to complete Prong’s 2017 line-up. Tommy Victor is a workhorse and never one to rest upon his laurels, 2017 has Prong releasing their 11th studio album ‘Zero Days’ through SPV/Steamhammer Records on July 28th.
As you would expect, ‘Zero Days’ begins in true Prong style with a typical Tommy Victor bellow and the more than decent crossover touches of ‘However It May End’. The opening track may have all the hallmarks of the thrash and crossover, but there is a hint of something else here, the half time sections would appeal to fans of groove metal and maybe even nu-metal with the throbbing beats and double bass blasts. As usual, Tommy Victor writes the best when he has a bee in his bonnet and with ‘Zero Days’, the bee has most definitely returned and is politically driven. Even on superficial listening, you get the feeling that Victor is not happy with the political climate in the USA; Donald Trump, race riots, fascist marches and the threat of nuclear war all hang over ‘Zero Days’ like an omnipresent mushroom cloud.
The album begins with the one-two punch of ‘However It May End’ and the title track. Both these tracks deal with the atomic holocaust lingering over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, as Tommy Victor preaches from his pulpit as a heavy metal doomsayer. Given the rather gloomy lyrical content of impending obliteration, both songs fit really well, however, at times, both Art Cruz and Mike Longworth add little more than garnish to let’s face it, the Tommy Victor show and both ‘However It May End’ and ‘Zero Days’ will make you sit up and think: “wow! Prong are back with a bang!” if you excuse the explosive pun.
With ‘Zero Days’, Prong provide a bit of everything, not just for new fans to the band, but for those just passing by and those long time Prong fans with ‘Off the Grid’, ‘Operation of the Moral Law’ and ‘Blood Out of Stone’. Each song provides that perfect high rhythmic tempo, complete with a gang vocal that not only lets you sing along but also provides the perfect backdrop for you to slam to, if you are of that inclination. There are also traces of the industrial sound which Prong also dabbled in with ‘Wasting of the Dawn’ – a song which begins with a fast paced drum machine introduction reminiscent of ‘Mein Land’ by Rammstein before descending into its own beast. Whilst ‘Interbeing’ is a song of modern day Killing Joke proportions minus Jaz Coleman’s trademark voice, it would appeal to any fan of that industrial sort of sound whilst ‘Wasting of the Dawn’ is an excellent way to close ‘Zero Days’.
All this however only serves to strengthen ‘Zero Days’ as it is the politically charged songs which steal the show; ‘Divide and Conquer’, ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ and ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ all show Tommy Victor at his most pissed off and therefore his best. ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ has all the bullish pig-headedness of the person it is clearly aimed at – the President of the United States, Donald Trump. This song, coupled with ‘Interbeing’ and ‘Operation of the Moral Law’ make ‘Zero Days’ the angriest of Prong’s albums to date, with all this being possible now that Victor has an outlet and a physical target to focus is hatred and rage upon.
‘Zero Days’ shows that Prong are back on top of their game, they haven’t sounded this good in years and what adds the final cherry on the top is the that ‘Zero Days’ has had fantastic production upon it courtesy of Tommy Victor and Chris Collier. ‘Zero Days’ is sleek and smooth without losing any of that raw anger and energy that seems to have been the catalyst in making ‘Zero Days’ a strong and excellent release. 84/100
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine