I dabbled in PRONG back in 1991, but never really listened to anything after that. So when my buddy Steve turned me onto 2012’s Carved Into Stone, I was in hog heaven. That album is a home run from start to finish, something I realized right away. So now Tommy Victor and crew have given us Ruining Lives, out May 13 via Steamhammer/SPV Records, and I’ll be honest. This one was more of a grower, and I was able to get more of a feel for it while driving and at the gym. And that’s not bad. Some of my favorite records were ones I almost threw out a window after one spin, not that I hated this one by any means. Anyway, let’s get into it.
Obviously the first thing that jumped out at me was the riffs. Tommy Victor has always been a master at coming up with killer riffage. Songs like “Come to Realize” and “Self Will Run Riot” deliver them in spades, and the pacing never wavers. Another great thing is the song lengths as well as album running time (42 mins). The band gets in and gets out before you know what hit you, and when you survey the aftermath, your kitchen’s on fire and your flatscreen’s been stolen! “Riot” is also one of my favorite cuts on the album. Another great song is “Chamber of Thought” which starts out one way, then violently shifts gears and takes off like a demon. Loved it! There’s some brief, but fiery solos going on, too.
The album opens in typical PRONG fashion with “Turnover”, a fast-paced number with a ton of attitude, followed by the thrashiness of “The Barriers” which is definitely the closest thing to old stuff found here. The atmospheric quality of “Windows Shut” had my eyebrows raised, but in a good way, and then when it all kicks in it’s another winner. “Remove, Separate Self” is probably my other favorite, not just because of the quirky title, but it’s got those chugging riffs I do so love. In yet another change-up the title track has a slower tempo than the rest, but also has its feet planted firmly in thrash territory, the double-kick drums going bonkers to accompany the guitars.
Longtime PRONG fans will immediately sense a familiarity in “Absence of Light” which features what has to be the most melodic singing of Tommy Victor’s career, and I fail to see how that’s a problem. “The Book of Change” is a potent thrash-meets-hardcore cocktail but with just as much melody as rawness and venom, and the fucking solo is lights out. Closer “Limitations and Validations” is another stellar track that is the perfect song for a workout. Bottom line is I really enjoyed Ruining Lives, and as I said before it didn’t hit me right away. But by listen #3 I was really into it. Is it as good as Carved Into Stone? No. Is it damn near? Yis. But is it one hell of a record to drive to/lift to? Absolutely!! Pick up a copy and see for yourself.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Self Will Run Riot”, “Limitations and Validations”, “Remove, Separate Self”, “Chamber of Thought”, “The Book of Change”, “Come to Realize”