CD Review: ‘Songs From the Black Hole’ by Prong

Prong has always had a sound of its own. Equal parts hardcore, thrash, industrial and goth, the band has managed to stay fresh for 30 years. On Songs From The Black Hole, Tommy Victor and Company pay tribute to the trio’s influences and what a tribute it is. The band launches into “Doomsday” by D-Beat pioneers Discharge. The fast pace drumming and frantic riffing blasts from the speakers and pummel the listener from beginning to end. The band shows carefree aggression on “Goofy Concern” by the Butthole Suffers. One moment the group falls into a laid back groove then transitions in to a militaristic cadence. However, it is the band’s cover of The Adolescent’s “Kids of The Black Hole” that is the centerpiece of the record. Tommy’s lyrics have always dealt with alienation and a sense of belonging in a hard and callous world. The song itself is a song about the “Black Hole,” a home for homeless kids in the California punk scene. The chorus tugs at the heart while the dissonant chords convey a sense of uncertainty and isolation.

There is also a nice rendition of Black Flag’s “The Bars,” with the off kilter riffing and drumming Black Flag became known for during its latter years. Of course, it is not a Prong cover record without a Killing Joke song. Late Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, played on Cleansing and Rude Awakening, thus there is some history between both bands. Killing Joke had immeasurable influence on Prong due to the former’s punk meets industrial sound. Prong does justice on the track “Seeing Red,” with its unorthodox song structure and echoing vocals. I also have to commend the band on its killer, energetic performance of “Banned in D.C.” by Bad Brains.

Overall, Songs From the Black Hole is a fun record with diverse song choices and a strong performance by the band. The production is top notch, which has never been an issue for Prong and the songs never sound constricted or forced. While some fans may prefer a new Prong LP, Songs is a great record unto itself and should tide fans over until the next Prong record.

For news on the band and upcoming tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://prongmusic.com/