What becomes an iconoclast the most? Carved Into Stone sums up what Prong stands for. This is an album slaked in hostility, personal detachment and seething with the urban paranoia that’s long been the mark of this sonic triad. It’s eleven tracks that don’t merely settle into the New York City-born band’s cannon of material that has yielded post-metal classics including Beg To Differ and Cleansing. It exceeds it.
“I hate nostalgia,” says mainstay, vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor whose musical and personal outlook belies his current Los Angeles environs. “But this record literally has every strand of Prong’s DNA spliced together in a way that feels more exciting than it has in some time.”
Produced and mixed by Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence), Carved Into Stone picks up where Prong’s classic albums left off. Opener “Eternal Heat” sets things off at a blistering pace fueled by drummer Alexei Rodriguez and bassist Tony Campos’ formidable rhythm section. Meanwhile, the likes of “Revenge…Best Served Cold” is absolute, classic Prong: a huge riff slaked with bitter sentiments.
Tommy Victor admits that Carved Into Stone is the first time Prong has taken direction from a producer in the studio. “It’s also the hardest I’ve ever worked on a record,” he says of working with Evetts. “I’m happier with the way it came out more than almost anything I’ve ever done but there were points during it I wanted to kill myself and everyone around me.”
Prong emerged from the New York City underground of the late 80’s, quickly setting themselves apart from the conformist culture of the city’s hardcore and metal scenes. They were recognized internationally for their first two independent releases: Primitive Origins and Force Fed. When Prong’s dalliance with the outer limits of the mainstream acceptance came via Epic Records, it proved more successful than the underground-bred trio ever expected. The band’s “Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck” from Cleansing became Prong’s calling card.
“It felt like the world had finally caught up with us,” says Tommy. Prong’s influence was being felt in the scene around them. Bands from the likes of Pantera to White Zombie to Korn were taking notice of Prong’s purposeful, creative riffing and making that the template for platinum selling success. “I wasn’t jealous,” Tommy recalls. “But I could take a royalty check or two.”
At the beginning of the 2000’s, Tommy put Prong aside for a time to play with Danzig and Ministry. It was a much-needed time for Victor to refocus his energies. When Prong finally twisted itself back into form, they toured exhaustively both headlining and supporting the likes of Soulfly and Fear Factory. Slowly but surely, the songs and ideas that would become Carved Into Stone began to take form. “The songs I was writing felt more like Prong than anything I had written since Raven was in the band,” says Tommy, recalling the era when the recently deceased ex-Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven was one of his co-conspirators.
Prong’s Long Branch Records/SPV debut Carved Into Stone isn’t merely another chapter in the band’s many-storied career or the much clichéd “return to form”. It’s the sound of Tommy Victor and Company stating exactly who Prong is. Like it or not, they aren’t about to go away any time soon.