Prong Scorpio Rising
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I was pretty sure that Prong was dead and gone. All signs had pointed to such an event. Lo and behold, I walk into a music store and find a copy of Scorpio Rising staring me in the face. All that remains of the previous lineup is frontman Tommy Victor (drummer Ted Parsons is onto other projects as is bassist Paul Raven). Filling out the lineup is Dan Laudo on drums and Monte Pittman as co-guitars/bass. With the inclusion of the new blood, Prong's music has taken a noticeable revision.

Streamlined sonically, this new Prong album presents metal is a straightforward and raw format. The tracks are powerful and thrashing without being overdone and heavy-handed about it. Tommy's vocals are as potent as ever - ranging from oddly melodic to rage-infected roars. His main vocals are a constant state of disgruntled impatience, lashing out at the listener.

The album opens with a blistering one-two punch. Detached is a harsh, thrashing trash with one hell of a groove that lashes out like a wounded animal. This is followed by All Knowing Force, a punishing song that shows hints of Zakk Wylde in the higher notes, throw in like power spikes. Embrace The Depth follows with a moody bass intro that flows into a more Prong-like trash. The chorus is more laid back and tempered, holding back on some of the passion that's exhibited elsewhere.

Not forgetting their roots, Scorpio Rising features more than a few songs that borrow tones, riffs and familiar arrangements that harken back to older efforts. Letter To A "Friend", while a slower, more methodical effort with brooding guitars and a tempered beat, feels like a more polished take on the songs from Prong's early days. Avoid Promises seems to be pulled from the Cleansing/Rude Awakening era of Prong. It features a nice groove with less of a blunt roar to it. More reserved than other tracks, this is likely one of the more radio-friendly efforts. Assurances feels like a Prove You Wrong era track, opening with some clean bass and then throwing itself into the harsh riff that proves a strong constant throughout. Out of This Realm likewise hails from older albums, feeling more like an updated take on something that might not have made the final cut.

This is not to say that the fresh blood hasn't added something new to Prong. Both Reactive Mind and Regal are heavy as hell. Reactive Mind has moments where it steps back from the thrash to give more passion to the mix. Regal is as close to death metal as the band has ever tried to come. Assurances is a bitter song, empowered by a staccato beat and some punishing guitars.

My favorite track on the album is Entrance of the Eclipse, which feels like a Prove You Wrong era track that's modernized. It's slow to open but features some exceptionally strong riffs and balances its power well.

Scorpio Rising is probably the best sounding album the band has recorded. It's clean and powerful. The guitars are crisp and drums provide a strong beat. Tommy Victor's vocals land in a spot that the perfect tone and volume for the music. For those looking for a no-BS form of metal, this album is sure to please. Hardcore Prong fans might find the more streamlined approach a little off-putting. But, for those who just wanted a new album, this is worth the years of patience.

- - Vane

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