X – No Absolutes
By Robin X Steeley (RS11)
After a much deserved hiatus, PRONG released X – No Absolutes which dropped February 5th, a long awaited release that includes 13 songs and one bonus track. Having been dubbed influential American hardcore, Prong brings us the follow up to the bands highly acclaimed release ‘Ruining Lives’ in 2014 and their subsequent album ‘Songs From The Black Hole’ full of covers by diverse artists like Bad Brains, Black Flag and even Neil Young. It was received with mixed reviews and since then fans have been anxiously awaiting the new arrival – and the band didn’t disappoint with X – No Absolutes.
The album has a strong driving start with track “Ultimate Authority” which features excellent dynamics and manages to cross genres, a theme throughout this album. The song remains strong all the way to the finish. Next, “Sense Of Ease” takes over with its faster rhythms, Victor spitting out angry lyrics all over the place in a fist pumping release of aggressive rage. The drums are ruthless and carry this track along well, leading straight into “Without Words” and “Cut And Dry,” which are both catchy and repeatable and the latter features a blistering guitar lead worth starting over once or twice. Title track “No Absolutes” is engaging and definitely one of my favorites off this offering. It’s lyrically interesting and musically vibrant, as is “Do Nothing” which strays into new territory with a near ballad, where Tommy Victor really shows his range; stretching the vocals atmospherically.
Rounding out the album are tracks like angry anthem “Belief System” with its rhythmic lyrical delivery and sick guitar work and the anthemic “Soul Sickness” with its low end bass driven choruses and growly vocals. Then there’s wildly paced song “In Spite Of Hindrances” and bass heavy “Ice Runs Through My Veins” with its highlighted clean crisp vocals, as well as the angst ridden yet poetic “Worth Pursuing” and “With Dignity,” which might be the most radio friendly single on this record. If you’re smart enough to listen to the end you’ll be treated to the bonus track “Universal Law,” an excellent ending to this collection of songs. It embodies all of the best things about Prong and its individual players.
The production is clean where it’s supposed to be and dirty in just the right places, the quality is excellent and handled again by vocalist Tommy Victor, collaborating with Chris Collier as co-producer and engineer. After repeat listening, I think this latest album is indeed a highlight of PRONG in their aggressive essence. There is an intensity and heaviness that stays true to their original formula while bringing the music itself, and years of experience into the mix. Overall it’s an excellent offering, old fans are sure to love it and I’m betting it will make them a few new ones along the way, a generation of new Prong enthusiasts for their upcoming European/American tour dates would be just the ticket.