Prong – “Songs From The Black Hole” (Steamhammer / SPV)
When they arrived in the mid 80s, Prong were one of the most experimental bands around, straight outta NYC’s CBGBs mixing metal with hardcore and industrial – what a sound man! As their underground status grew so did mainstream success followed by roster changes which although changing the sound, still kept to the experimental formula until the late 90s when founder guitarist / vocalist Tommy Victor left to join Danzig and the rhythm section of Paul Raven and Ted Parsons left for Godflesh. It wouldn’t be long however, before Victor would reform Prong with yet another line-up including Madonna’s ex guitarist Monte Pittman, while juggling stints in between Danzig until he would join Raven in Ministry in 2005. Raven would pass away two years later at which point a new Prong would release “Power Of The Damage” and soon after, increased touring and regular releases would bring the band back onto the scene until last year’s critically acclaimed “Ruining Lives”. Coming on the 25th anniversary of their ground breaking “Beg To Differ” release, “From The Black Hole” isn’t a new record as such, but an interesting covers album taking in the bands that were so influential to the band as well as fans like myself from Husker Du’s ‘Don´t Want To Know If You´re Lonely’ to Bad Brains ‘Banned In DC’ and the Butthole Surfers ‘Goofy’s Concern’. However, the cover range goes well beyond that from the Sisters Of Mercy to Black Flag and even Neil Young’s ‘Cortez The Killer’, attesting to both the band’s diversity in their influences as well as their own capability in offering sterling versions of the numbers that undoubtedly sound like Prong yet whose essence is indisputably recognizable. Likewise, this current line up of Prong with bassist Jason Christopher and Art Cruz on drums do fine justice in capturing the social angst, speed and power of these underground cult bands. Arising out’ve a need to fill a rest gap in between festivals, as “Songs From The Black Hole” began to mushroom, Victor cut down the material to those most reflective of that sense of decay, insecurity and grime of the Lower East Side, the gutters of which spawned Prong, who remain as experimental as ever. Interestingly, whilst there are no metal bands in the 10 track list I don’t think that was a slight on Victor’s behalf but an honest compromise not to open up a huge can of worms, but on the strength of this release and how well its been done, I don’t see why it couldn’t be repeated for the metallers.