|Prong - 'Songs From The Black Hole' (Steamhammer/SPV)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Monday, 02 March 2015 03:00|
As Prong readies itself to celebrate thirty years of noise-bringing next year, it seems appropriate that, after the very well-received 'Ruining Lives' album last year, the momentum is kept up with another more than worthy release. That it is a covers album celebrating the bands and scenes that originally influenced the band is a risk only because 'other' albums like this by 'other' bands can, when listened to, feel just like a fearful trip to the dentist. If you know Prong, though, then you'll know Tommy Victor and, let's face it, he doesn't really do anything other than cool.
'Songs From The Black Hole' is, basically, a love letter to ten legendary outfits that, quite remarkably, plays like an album proper. This tracklisting should be all over the place as it shifts from Discharge to the Sisters of Mercy, from Bad Brains to Neil Young, but it isn't. Given a Prong makeover the choice cuts from these bands selected for covering make for some pulsing, grimy listening.
This, you have to remember, isn't the result of some half-arsed idea, or contractual obligation - a considerable amount of thought has gone into this album, from the fine, tone-setting artwork by art director Mike Lopez to the revealing liner notes detailing each song choice by Victor himself.
Some of these songs perfectly suit the Prong sound: opening track 'Doomsday', originally by Discharge, crashes out in some fashion, and the riff to the Butthole Surfers' 'Goofy's Concern' is a near-perfect fit to the New York power trio's punching sonics.
The influence of Killing Joke on Prong may be obvious, the take on 'Seeing Red' found here impressive, but it's the likes of Hüsker Dü's 'Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely' and Fugazi's 'Give Me The Cure' that have the potential to surprise.
The album takes its name - kinda - from the Adolescents' 'Kids Of The Black Hole' which, again, pricks at the senses from first play, and, while the noisier tracks like the stab at Black Flag's 'The Bars' might be more of what you'd expect of a record like this from a band like this, it's the more inspired song choices that truly make this the raging success that it is: 'Vision Thing' sounds great, but it is the overwhelming prowess of album closer, 'Cortez The Killer', that will startle listeners. How hard must it be to do Neil Young justice? Justice, my friends, is served here... and in some style.
The majority of cover albums are hit and miss, we know this. Well, now know this - Prong's 'Songs From The Black Hole' hits... and hits hard.