Jan 2024 04

Album CoverPRONG
Album: State of Emergency
Category: Metal / Alternative
Label: Steamhammer/SPV
Release Date: 2023-10-06
Author: Duke Togo (Golgo13)


It’s been six years since PRONG released a full album, the silence since broken primarily by the Age of Defiance EP in 2019 and regular touring. Now, Tommy Victor and company have returned with State of Emergency, which can best be described as PRONG by-the-numbers, its 11 tracks loaded with the same thrashing and grooving metal riffage, beats, and acerbic vocals that have been at the band’s core since the late ‘80s. Throw in the occasional nods to past dabbles with industrial, post-punk, and hardcore, and you’ve got a surefire record that although masterfully produced and mixed by the great Steve Evetts, marginally suffers for its strict adherence to what audiences have come to expect from PRONG.

From the slow chugging menace of the title track to the dissonant riffs creepily building up to a darkly melodic chorus on “Obeisance,” its atmospheric bass thrum and steely arpeggios giving it a groove metal meets post-punk vibe, the pummeling aggression of “Back (NYC),” or the muscular force of “Non-Existence” giving way to a nicely flanged and somber bridge, State of Emergency goes as much for the jugular as any of the band’s past output. The interplay of Victor and guitarist Marc Rizzo on the Slayer-esque thrash discord of the opening “The Descent” is pretty striking, while the mechanical rhythms and bombast of “Light Turns Black” have a sort of catchy post-industrial/metal vibe that harkens back to albums like Cleansing and Rude Awakening. “Disconnected” manages to stand out for its anthemic melodies more akin to ‘80s arena rock. Throughout the record, lines like “War on reality,” “Only the beginning,” or “Who told me” are sung with Victor’s signature cadence, such that one almost feels as if he’s used these lines before. But even beyond the excess of familiarity, one of the album’s biggest misfires would have to be “Breaking Point,” its pinch harmonic squeals seeming like a novel hook, but must even for the most ardent metalhead outstay their welcome before long. Finally, the album closes with a cover of Rush’s “Working Man” that is faithfully executed, but leaves one wishing the band had done something more adventurous with it.

Ultimately, State of Emergency is a PRONG record, so you know exactly what you’re getting. The performances are strong, the songwriting effective and reasonably accomplished, with solid production – this sounds good in theory, but you get the same from so much of the group’s past that it relegates the album to being one of PRONG’s more lackluster efforts.
Track list:

  1. The Descent
  2. State of Emergency
  3. Breaking Point
  4. Non-Existence
  5. Light Turns Black
  6. Who Told Me
  7. Obeisance
  8. Disconnected
  9. Compliant
  10. Back (NYC)
  11. Working Man

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