1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 232

Cleansing, by Prong
Suggested by Danny Nuttall

The more metal I receive, the more I realise that my teen years were a lie.

It’s not that I’m not enjoying the heavy stuff. I clearly am, if you remove the growling vocal anathema from the equation. No, it’s more that I find myself faced with band after band that I should have heard, but I haven’t. Everyone is allowed holes in their musical tapestry, even if those holes can accommodate a hamhock fist (“what do mean, you’ve never heard a Queen song?!”), but the deeper I delve into the substrata of Metal in the Masterlist, the more I come to realise my tapestry is a net.

This project exists to reverse my atrophied palate, and it’s succeeding. It’s also pulling the petrification into stark focus. My tastes are fossilized, from a constricted sliver of time which sports the handful of acts that bring me comfort, but nothing else. My taste is in a box, in a cupboard, in a room atop a tower, surrounded by a moat filled with hippos and merfolk. The entire blighted keep is surrounded by a joyous festival that fizzes, pops and zings, blocked from my view by the thick curtains of apathy.

Take Prong, for example. They were formed in the late Eighties, and had standout success in the early Nineties. So why haven’t I heard them before? Because my musical vault has a bouncer at the door. If you’re not on the list, you’re not getting in.

Cleansing is Prong’s fourth album, and likely their most successful to date. It contains their most famous song: Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck. I’ve never heard the song, and I’ve never heard the album, before today, despite their alt metal sound being a fine fit for my jigsaw tastes. The album is a vibrant roar of metal, at once both groovy and somehow industrial, with punkish vocals atop a heavily fuzzed guitar. The drums are pulsating and technically adept, filling each track with a breathless sense of urgency that’s hard to ignore.

Vocally, singer Tommy Victor is controlled yet vitriolic, filling the barking staccato with genuine emotion and variance. At face value he fills out the punk metal mould perfectly, with the implication that, well, these are the sounds he can make, as he can’t actually sing. He is good at what he does, like an expressive Mike Muir from Suicidal Tendencies. But even when the songs are limited by the vocals, the band pull out all the stops and offer up a variety of styles that belie their genre’s one-trick-pony pounding stomp.

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck is their most popular song. Others of note include the powerful Another Worldly Device and the funky guitar of Broken Peace. My standout track is the downright thrashy Cut-Rate, with it’s brute force trauma vocals and waspish buzzing guitar solos.

I should have embraced Prong in my teenage and twentysomething pomp. Cleansing is the workl of a band at the peak of their power. I give it a fine 7/10, but I’m unlikely to return. Like so many other Metal bands revealed to me these past months, Prong highlight my lack of musical stamina. While others dive into the mosh pit, I’m stood at the edge with one eye on my pint and another on the exit.

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