'Songs From The Black Hole'
STEAMHAMMER / SPV
There is no question that U.S. trio Prong have solidified and impressive legacy over the course of their near thirty year history. Their minimal groove-laden metal framework has influenced the likes of Korn, Slipknot and Fear Factory. While tracks such as 'Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck' from 1994's seminal album 'Cleansing' has been a consistent favourite in metal and industrial clubs around the world. Since the band's first break up in the mid 90's they have had a couple more runs in between main man Tommy Victor's duties for the likes of Danzig and Ministry.
The band's last three studio outings have all been of a consistent quality that lives up to their major label heyday. So it is with a raised eyebrow of uncertainty that I press play on 'Songs From The Black Hole' a ten track album consisting solely of cover versions. Usually this kind of move often signals the beginning of the end of a lot of bands these days. Let's just hope that isn't the case.
The song choices are obviously informed by nostalgia as they hark back to the band's formative days with track from the likes of Discharge, Sisters Of Mercy, Butthole Surfers, Killing Joke, Black Flag, Fugazi, and Bad Brains getting the Prong treatment. And it is a a rather natural marriage. With the afore mentioned bands' influences evident in Prong's own sound Victor and co.'s versions just sound right, like this was a compilation of covers previously featured on past albums rather than a brand new offering.
In particular the band's takes on The Sisters Of Mercy's 'Vision Thing', Adolescent's 'Kids Of The Black Hole', Killing Joke's 'Seeing Red', Fugazi's 'Give Me The Cure', and Neil Young's 'Cortez The Killer' provide the most memorable moments on the album.
In terms of production it is as you'd expect from a band with a pedigree such as Prong. The roughness of their post-punk leanings sits comfortably within their groovy metal prowess and the mixes reflect this adequately. It has a definite gritty edge to it but doesn't make the mistake of trying to capture that lower quality 80's underground sound that features on the original tracks.
Whether or not 'Songs From The Black Hole' is a warning sign, it is still a good album. Perhaps one that's more for the hardcore fans rather than potential newcomers. But anyone who owns a Prong album will be able to get into the choices they've made on this album.