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Rising out of the East Coast thrash metal landscape, Prong carved a niche all their own with their minimalist take on the genre that combines hardcore punk and metal with gritty New York City noise-rock. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist and sole constant member Tommy Victor, the band earned critical and commercial acclaim in the early '90s with a string of albums (Beg to Differ [1990], Prove You Wrong [1991], and Cleansing [1994] that paired unrelenting grooves with brash alternative metal). The group ceased operations in 1997 but re-formed in 2002 with Victor at the helm. Prong continued to refine their punitive thrash, groove, and industrial metal sound on lauded subsequent efforts like Power of the Damager (2007), Ruining Lives (2014), and State of Emergency (2023). After years working as a soundman at New York's CBGB, Tommy Victor (vocals/guitars) drafted doorman Mike Kirkland (bass) and ex-Swans drummer Ted Parsons to form Prong in the mid-'80s. The trio's early independent releases -- Primitive Origins and Force Fed -- were extremely raw and betrayed their hardcore roots. By the time the group signed with Epic for 1990's Beg to Differ, though, Victor and company had transformed into a highly technical thrash metal outfit, shelling out clinical staccato riffs and start-stop rhythms peppered with subtle melodies and occasional bursts of speed. The album's title track was a minor hit, helping to put the band on the map once it received regular exposure on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Ex-Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Troy Gregory replaced Kirkland for 1991's Prove You Wrong, which featured another strong single in "Unconditional," but was essentially a creative holding pattern and lost some of the band's momentum. Gregory was soon ousted and supplanted by two ex-Killing Joke and Murder Inc. members in bassist Paul Raven and keyboard player John Bechdel for 1994's Cleansing. Containing arguably their best work, the album saw a slight change of direction toward a more industrial sound, with Victor's precise riffing making way for a greater sense of groove and melody. It did little to increase the group's commercial appeal, however. Prong would disband following 1996's Rude Awakening. Parsons then went on to join British industrialists Godflesh while Victor toured with Danzig, but rumors persisted of an eventual Prong reunion. Prong re-formed in 2002, and after releasing a live album, 100% Live, the bandmembers went back into the studio to write their first studio album in six years, 2003's Scorpio Rising. Signed to Al Jourgensen's 13th Planet label, Prong released their well-received seventh album, Power of the Damager, in 2007, which peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. A remix album, Power of the Damn Mixxxer, followed in 2009 before the band returned three years later with Carved Into Stone, which also placed high on the Heatseekers chart, this time reaching no. 13. Their ninth album, the thrash-heavy Ruining Lives, appeared in 2014, with an all-covers album, Songs from the Black Hole, arriving in 2015 and featuring songs from influences like Bad Brains ("Banned in D.C."), Neil Young ("Cortez the Killer"), and Sisters of Mercy ("Vision Thing"). The following year saw the release of their 11th studio long-player, X (No Absolutes), which paired Victor's socio-political observations with punchy, thrash-laden grooves. Prong continued in that vein on 2017's Zero Days and 2023's State of Emergency, both of which trafficked in elements from all of the band's eras, with punk, metal, noise, doom, industrial, and thrash given a wide sonic berth.
© Eduardo Rivadavia & James Christopher Monger /TiVo


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