Prong – Zero Days

For a band that’s been around longer than I’ve been uselessly kicking around this earth, Prong still has plenty of juice. I enjoyed both Songs from the Black Hole and X – No Absolutes (both SPV/Steamhammer) just fine, but the vibe is different on album twelve(!), Zero Days (Steamhammer). Seems like Tommy Victor has been busy putting together a late career resurgence, not unlike the lads in Machine Head.

Flanking Victor on Zero Days are again bassist Mike Longworth and the most valuable player, drummer Arturo Cruz. Cruz proves his worth particularly on monsters like ‘Zero Days’ with its Meshuggah inspired rhythms and the straight up Hardcore banger, ‘Off the Grid.’ The latter also provides something totally unexpected in its soaring, dare I say anthemic, choruses. If you pay close enough attention to those vocal melodies you can hear Howard Jones (Devil You Know, former Killswitch Engage) eagerly taking notes.

And since we’re talking about choruses and melodies it seems quite clear that ‘Divide and Conquer’ was crafted with designs on being a hit single. It’s not as varied dynamically as its predecessors, but its riff packs enough punch to hang with the rest; my one minor slight is that it draws from the catchy chorus well a little too often, that said, it’s a very rad chorus.

The heavy focus on memorable choruses doesn’t quite work as well on ‘The Whispers’ and on ‘Blood Out of Stone,’ as I feel like they lacked some of the urgency and aggression found on earlier cuts. With its mostly three-minute run times, Zero Days already feels lean, but it could’ve benefited from dropping one or two songs towards the end. ‘Rulers of the Collective’ has plenty of moments, but it’s not totally up to snuff with killers like groove-driven ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ and the breathless Thrash of ‘Forced into Tolerance.’

So, let Zero Days be a warning to all the young guns populating metal and hardcore, age is just a number in the extreme music racket. Prong isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.