Devil’s Review: Prong – Carved Into Stone

Prong – an iconic, if yet still not very well-known influence in the metal world.  When one thinks of the band, the focus immediately goes to front man/vocalist/guitarist Tommy Victor.  He was, is, and always will be what makes Prong the band they are, being the only original member left since its formation in the mid-80s.  Distinct singing and instantly recognizable song writing and structure are what lets the listener know exactly who they are hearing and that it is the force that is Prong.  In Carved Into Stone we have the best offering from Victor and company I think since Cleansing (although Power of the Damager wasn’t too bad).

With Carved Into Stone, Prong has essentially stripped down their sound with very little processing and extraneous “stuff” going on (i.e., industrial noise) and gone for a straight ahead metal sound, albeit completely in the Prong style.  The album cover does seem to combine the more organic sound with the industrial influence as seen in the Prong logo carving.  Prong slams us in the face with Eternal Heat, a thrashy, pummeling offering that is relentless from beginning to end.  Definitely an awesome opening to the whole affair.  Next they slow it down a bit, in speed not heaviness, with Keep On Living in Pain.  Quintessential Prong with a groovy kind of chorus, but a short, not very memorable guitar solo.  The opening salvo concludes (appropriately) with the song Ammunition, a mid-paced, hardcore-ish headbanger.  Tasty solo on this one.  The first trio of songs is probably the strongest part of Carved Into Stone.

Next we have Revenge…Served Cold, the first release from the album.  Here Prong return to a style that sort of defines them.  It is certainly a metal song, but has that “danceability” feel with a disco drumbeat and a tambourine (what?!).  If I heard this song out of nowhere, I think I could definitely identify the artist.  I dig the song, but it isn’t a favorite from this album.  Unfortunately it also has one of my musical pet peeves – the fadeout.  Ugh.  State of Rebellion is next, another groove based song, nice heavy riffing in the verses and bridge and a great construct of the chorus.  The second song with a sort of “dance” feel to it, but a killer guitar solo by Victor.  Put Myself to Sleep is next (more tambourine).  Nice fast riffing in places, but the chorus is not all that memorable.  Probably one of the weaker songs on the album, although the guitar solo is scorching.  List of Grievances is a hardcore blast, politically charged lyrics.  Definitely a thrasher and yet another tasty guitar solo by Mr. Victor.  Title track Carved Into Stone lets the band show it’s doomy side, very Sabbathy riffing throughout.

Subtract follows up as another slower song, doom influenced in the verses, picking up in the bridge, culminating with a simple yet catchy chorus.  I would say it is not one of the stronger tracks on Carved Into Stone, even maybe coming across as a bit of filler.   Next is Path of Least Resistance, a slow, but heavy offering.  Lumped together with the previous song or two, the album loses some steam here, seeming to again be filler material.  The album concludes with Reinvestigate, a mid-paced headbanger with strong riffing and a somewhat catchy chorus (although a little awkward), once again with some tambourine, making for a bit of a dance sound.  All in all, not a bad song, but not one of my favorites.

Here is opening track Eternal Heat.  Enjoy.

 

Carved Into Stone is a mostly consistent and solid album.  There seem to be, however, some extremely well written and executed songs, but a few that might be considered filler.  The opening tracks are undeniably strong songs, and the last few are passable, but by no means nearly as strong.  The guitar solos throughout are a nice surprise for me, not really expecting much in that department coming in.  Prong has offered us 7 or 8 really good or great songs and 3 or 4 that don’t quite stand up to the rest.  I would not say they are terrible songs, just not as good as the others.  The bottom line is that Prong are back with another album, their best in a long time.  If you aren’t a fan, check out the video and consider picking up Carved Into Stone if you like it.  If you are a fan, it is a must buy.

I hear the sound in a METAL way.

-Harley

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