Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#10 of my Top 12 Albums of 2014: Ruining Lives

Prong's Ruining Lives

Release Date: April 23rd, 2014
Label: Steamhammer/SPV
Genre: Groove Metal

     Want to find out where many of the most successful and notable modern rock/metal bands cite their influences? Meet Prong, a band that has been in the business for almost 30 years, cranking out 8 albums, all of which have been relatively well received, except for Rude Awakening, which say the band break up for about five years.  Since they came back from that break in 2002, their albums have been getting better and better, reminding those whom had lost faith who are the true groove masters. Well, them, Sepultura and Pantera, anyway.  Ruining Lives came out early this year and I went into it thinking it would just be a decent album, my disillusioned mood came hot on the heels of a string of disappointing albums from some of my favorite artists.  What happened not a month later was my complete adoration for this album, as I was recommending everyone that listens to any kind of music to check this album out. I knew immediately after the final track faded out that this would be on my end-of-the-year list, and lo and behold, it is here.

     Prong frontman, only remaining member and primary songwriter Tommy Victor stated in an interview in May that he was pressed by the label to complete this album as soon as possible and gave him a timetable as to when it needed to be finished.  He met this time constraint, though it did not give him time to write and complete the album, but it didn't seem to matter, as this pressure Tommy was subjected to turned out this diamond of an album.  Considering Tommy also helped mix the album with the legendary metal producer Steve Evetts, you know he didn't just churn out 11 songs (or 12 if you get the Digipak, which is worth it), slap them on an album cover, and call it a day; he took this time challenge head on and conquered by making one of the most impressive albums of Prong's career.

"Remove, Separate Self"

     Now for the actual songs themselves, which many Prong fans will find are for the most part much faster than previous Prong albums, sometimes breaching on Thrash Metal territory.  Many of the tracks on the album are also extremely melodic, focusing on very clean and understandable vocals, allowing the instruments to back off a tad once Tommy Victor's vocals start up, but stay relevant enough in the song that you know it is still a band and not just Tommy Victor dragging along two other men in some personal effort, though it still is obvious Victor is the leader in this group. "Remove, Separate Self" is one of the catchiest songs on the album in terms of lyrics and is near perfect in terms of Groove Metal classification, not the common misconception with Groove Death, which has become incredibly more popular than Groove itself.  This song, and the rest of the album actually, follows a theme of being oppressed by the growing technological society today, claiming that these oppressors are the ones that are "Ruining Lives."  This one is one of the more positive songs on the album, starting with the singer claiming to be disillusioned by the society surrounding him and this condescending environment affecting his thoughts at all times.  However, Victor ends on a positive note, trying to assure you that though this system may put you down and make you feel terrible, that you should not fear because you are stronger and worth more than they give you credit.  Its a nice lyrical composition, and helps give you motivation to actually hear what Victor has to say about the technological overtaking, even though many have spoke about this topic before.

"Absence of Light"

     "Absence of Light" is also a positive track on the album, beginning with a man who is completely lost within himself and the darkness, who eventually grows in confidence until he sounds like he can take on anyone and anything with what he knows and has learned.  What really shines here is the guitar work which makes one hell of a stomping beat, perfect for shaking your fist or banging your head to, that grows into a soaring chorus that honestly sounds a little lighter than originally supposed, but maybe that is the point.  The point could be that this softer and optimistic sounding chorus is to juxtapose the lyrics which speak of the darkness growing and the light becoming, well, absent.  Whatever the intention, it creates one of the best songs on the album.  I would also recommend "Come to Realize," "Turnover," and "Windows Shut" in addition to the tracks I have included here.

     Prong crafted one hell of an upbeat that is entrenched is depressing themes that normally are taken in a more positive light, saying that though we may be in a rut in terms of oppression and other concepts, we can overcome this because we are better.  All of the songs are memorable , besides maybe one or two that fall a tad short, but falling short from greatness is still amazing.  One of the best albums put out by an American band this year that solidifies for the rest of us that prong is still going strong after all of these years while many of those they had inspired had come and gone during their existence.  Check it out if you hae about 45 or so minutes to spare, as it is a little on the short side, but worth every minute.


Click here for Prong's official website.
Click here for Prong's official Facebook page.
Click here to buy Ruining Lives on iTunes.
Click here to buy Ruining Lives on Amazon.

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