Underworld, London, UK 03/30/2014
Although Prong never really ceased to exist (sans the period of uncertainty and hiatus), it seems that it is now that Tommy Victor and his creation have found a new and hopefully inexhaustible surplus of creative energy. The 2012 album Carved into Stone returned the band to its raw instrumental roots and gave the fans a surprising gift in the form of 11 new songs that marked Prong’s first new material since 2007’s Power of the Damager. What was not apparent at the time, which is obvious now, is that Tommy and his industrial/metal colossus are here to stay. The European tour is not only a perfect opportunity to remind the audience of the radiating, underground appeal of the band that inspired an entire generation of metal musicians, but also a teaser of this year’s Ruining Lives, an album that is sure to prove the lasting influence of Prong and the unmistakable musical identity that defined the act across three decades.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the return of Prong to the old world was supported by only one act, but Italy’s Klogr held its own, providing the audience with something more than just the tired loud racket of electric guitars. With merely two releases under its belt, Klogr sounded mature, distinct, and perfectly in tune with the usual cocktail of heavy riffs and melodic lyrics that Prong is still famous for. As an accompaniment to the night’s main attraction, Klogr performed wonderfully with several of the songs from the last album, Black Snow
, potently resonating with the crazed and hungry crowd. Meaty and memorable tracks like “Draw Closer” and “Zero Tolerance” echoed through the venue thanks to the pacing choruses and angry walls of bass and drums. Not unlike a demented metal demon but not without charisma and vigor either, Klogr’s vocalist Gabriele Rustichelli remained an engaging and friendly presence and by the time the solid and entertaining set finished with the poignant anthem “Guinea Pigs,” there was enough feedback from the hooked, first raw moshers to assume that the entire performance could easily go on for much longer.
Prong delivered an epic 90 minute set that fully exploited and benefited from the band’s lengthy career. The show covered extensively the heights of Victor’s musical output and time and again hinted at the lasting and current legacy of Prong thanks to the presence of the most recent tracks like “Carved into Stone” and “Ruining Lives.” Since most of the gathered audience seemed hardened in the hellfire of the thrash metal doom that Prong kept burning for over a quarter of a century, all of the songs were welcomed with the same untamable enthusiasm. It is in equal parts uncanny and miraculous that the blood kept pumping in the veins of the energized fans for the entirety of this exhausting show.
The band kept pushing forward with aplomb, unleashing the deafening force of the classic hits “Rude Awakening,” “Another Worldly Device,” and of course, “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” all of which drove the fans mad with excitement, sending them plummeting time and again from the edge of the stage into the crowd; health and safety be damned. The roar of Victor’s guitar echoed and reverberated through the club, setting the boiling hot air ablaze and indeed, he seemed like a deity among mere mortals – a raw pure entity of hard rock; thrash metal intensity embodied by the romantic soul of one man. It is funny then that even Victor himself was constantly challenged by the nihilistic primeval attitude of Prong’s bass player Jason Christopher. And since all of the smokers inhabiting the British Isles were shunned out of the public spaces years ago, he became briefly an object of envy, casually lighting up his fag onstage; petty, yes, but a reason for jealousy nevertheless.
By the time Prong exhausted its stage time and reached the inevitable curfew, no proverbial stones were left unturned and indeed, the choice of songs combined with the sheer volume of the material that made up the gig satisfied all of the gathered fans. Here is hoping for the same intensity across the United States when Tommy Victor and company decide to tour there.
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)