It seems to be becoming a trend: another year, another PRONG album. The trio from New York have been on a quite astonishing run of musical output in recent times: since their reformation ten years ago they’ve brought out six albums (equal to half of their overall discography) and four in as many years. These stats include Zero Days, their twelfth album overall and released today via SPV/Steamhammer Records.
It must be said that, despite their prolific release record since their reformation in 2007, PRONG have slipped under everyone’s radar – ask an individual the last time they thought of the band and they’d probably struggle to answer. However, it’s certainly credit to frontman and leader Tommy Victor that he’s kept things going and not compromised on his band’s sound or style. Certainly, there are a number of moments on Zero Days which hark back to PRONG‘s mid-90’s heyday: opening number However It May End combines stomp with bounce to open proceeding strongly, whilst Compulsive Future Projection at the other end is classic PRONG in every sense, bassist Mike Longworth providing an excellent, rumbling foundation.
Then there’s the fist-pump of Operation of the Moral Law, which doesn’t sound a million miles from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, whilst the pit-inducing Forced into Tolerance and the industrial-tinged Interbeing also add a couple of quick jabs to the senses. Best of all is Divide and Conquer, a more melodic number with a stellar chorus that soars instantly, Victor’s clean, softer vocals displayed brilliantly and proving that despite the deluge of material that PRONG have released over the last decade, they’ve still got the ability to craft a couple of excellent tunes here and there.
On the other hand however, said deluge has left Zero Days with a certain amount of filler, and one questions whether thirteen songs were really needed when eight or nine would have been perfect; towards the end, the album does begin to drag. The title track and Off the Grid are too generic to make any sort of lasting impact, and The Whispers lack bite and precision, coming across a little safe and watered down. Perhaps the one that sums up Zero Days the best is Self Righteous Indignation, which opens with a crushing guitar riff and a lot of promise, but peters out into formulaic, middle-of-the-road metal that ends up sounding twenty years out of date.
A mixed bag then for PRONG, with some true diamonds but plenty of rough at the same time. Full marks to Victor and his current lineup for soldiering on and proving that there IS still life in the old dog yet, but there are plenty of younger, more exciting bands out there leaving PRONG well and truly in the dust behind them.
Zero Days is out now via SPV/Steamhammer Records.
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