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This highly respected pre-grunge-era group is back to show the kids how super heavy thrash metal is done.

Music Review: Prong – Power Of The Damager

In the early and mid-'90s, Prong's unique blend of super-heavy industrial and thrash metal was ahead of its time and clearly influenced what was then the looming "nu metal" movement. At the time, I was a teenager who looked forward to every killer episode of MTV's Headbanger's Ball every Saturday night, which along with WAAF radio in my hometown of Boston is how I discovered Prong.

Its time in the spotlight of heavy metal was all to brief however, as albums after 1994's Cleansing never took off or delivered singles as strong and popular as "Beg to Differ" or "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck," the latter of which is without a doubt Prong's most well-known song.

This is not to say that other albums like Rude Awakening or Prove You Wrong were duds; they just never made a splash beyond the underground metal community the way 1990's Beg To Differ and Cleansing did. And that's a shame because like Machine Head, Biohazard, Helmet and a few others, Prong added a new and exciting chapter to heavy metal that has gone largely unappreciated over time.

With the release of its newest album Power Of The Damager (13th Planet Records) last month however, this should change. It is clearly Prong's loudest, brutally heavy and consistent record since Cleansing; traces of earlier records like Beg To Differ are present as well.

The only significant difference between Cleansing and Power is the industrial noises are no longer a part of Prong's sound. This new record is all super heavy power, speed and thrash metal. And if you have none of these CDs in your metal collection, I suggest buying them all together. They're that good.

With drummer Aaron Rossi's aggressive – he frequently employs double kick drum pedals – and at times groovy rhythms setting the pace and band leader/guitarist Tommy Victor and bassist Monte Pittman's respective instruments tuned down to C and occasionally D, Power picks up where Cleansing left off. The staccato riffs, start-stop rhythms and Victor's snarl and growl are all still present, from album opener "Looking For Them" to "Worst of It" and on down the track list. "No Justice" is especially angry and reflects the times we live in; it also features machine-gun fast riffs and wild screams from Victor.

Elsewhere, "Spirit Guide" starts out semi-spacey and throws a couple of dramatic change-ups in tempo, but doesn't let up for long. It, like several other songs features a squealing, frantic guitar solo. Make no mistake about it, this album is ferocious to the very end. Last track "Changing Ending Troubling Times" sees Rossi and Pittman having no trouble at all keeping up with Victor's speed metal riffs.

In all, Power Of The Damager produced what their 2003 comeback record Scorpio Rising did not: truly inspired metal. Even Ministry's Al Jourgensen thinks this is their best CD "ever." Prong fans can debate that but in the meantime, be sure to add this one to your top metal albums of 2007.

To listen to a few more songs from this album, visit Prong's myspace page and for additional info on the band, click here.

About Charlie Doherty

Senior Music Editor and Culture & Society (Sports) Editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Prior writing/freelancing ventures: copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. Keep up with me on twitter.com/chucko33

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