Live photos: Testament, Sepultura and Prong at Center Stage in Atlanta GA

Testament, live at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA, April 15, 2017

Images of the thrash metal Testament, along with Sepultura and Prong, from the threesome’s Saturday, April 15 concert at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA. Testament is touring to promote their latest album, titled Brotherhood of the Snake.

This is the third album in a row to feature founding member and guitarist Eric Peterson, singer Chuck Billy, guitarist Alex Skolnick and drummer Gene Hoglan. Returning for his second stint in the band is bassist Steve Di Giorgio.

The band pulled out all the stops production-wise, filling the stage with saturated color, smoke canons and strobes. Musically, they never sounded better, and ripped into cuts from the new album like “The Pale King,” “Centuries of Suffering” and the title track “Brotherhood of the Snake.”

Full gallery of Testament

 

Full gallery of Sepultura

 

Full gallery of Prong

CD Review: ‘X-No Absolutes’ by Prong

Prong keep the creative ball rolling on X-No Absolutes. The band’s third studio LP in four years, (fourth if you include the group’s 2015 covers album Songs From The Black Hole) X is a heavy, versatile record with the trio performing at its best. The opening track, “Ultimate Authority,” is signature Prong with a tight groove and crunching guitar. There is a strong sense of confidence from the first note. “Sense of Ease” shows the band reaching back to its hardcore/crossover roots. There are several tempo changes and an off the wall solo that only adds to the madness of the track. The no nonsense riffing on “Cut and Dry” is heavy like a concrete slab on glass. Art Cruz’s jackhammer drumming beats the listener into the ground while Tommy unleashes a sinister lead towards the end of the song. There is a slight industrial influence on the title track. The robotic riffs and electronic samples are a nice change from the hardcore thrash of the earlier tracks. The song does not sound out of place at all, as the band keeps the industrial influence to a minimum. Another highlight is the doom meets djent track “Belief System.” The dowtuned dirgey guitars have a minor Meshuggah feel without sounding like a ripoff. Once again, Prong shows its willingness to try new things and blend subgenres to interesting results.

The biggest strength on X-No Absolutes is the band’s confident attitude. Prong takes musical risks on this record and succeed because of the band’s abilities. Then again, Prong has always thought outside the box since its formation in 1986. However, on this record, the band takes influence from doom, industrial, goth and even pop. The album is not soft in the slightest. Fans will have plenty of tunes to headbang too. However, folks unfamiliar with Prong will probably find a few tracks they will like. Production wise, the record sounds just as good as its previous releases on SPV/Steamhammer. There is no clicking or muffled vocals, nor does one instrument drown out the others.

Prong can add another notch to its belt with X. The songs are heavy, the production strong and the band’s attitude is positive. The band continues to improve after 30 years and that commendable unto itself. This record is a must own and that is an absolute.

For more info on the band check out www.prongmusic.com

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/

CD Review: ‘Done With You’ by Confrontational

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I’ve been a follower of Massimo Usai’s music for a long time, and it’s no surprise why. Here’s a man who has fronted a diverse number of projects, has received praise from the likes of Tommy Victor (Prong), recorded with Darren Travis (Sadus), and been part of studio sessions with the legendary group Killing Joke. Not only is he a competent multi-instrumentalist, but he is a confident behind-the-scenes man as well, versed in the roles of mixer and producer. Thus, it was no surprise to me to see him emerge once more with this new endeavor, Confrontational.

Confrontational has arisen from the ashes of noise rockers, Recs Of The Flesh, and dark-wave experimenters, Dahlia Indaco. Usai has focused on bringing together “a melodic approach to aggressively catchy tracks” through the use of “layers of synth, lush guitars, and pulsing beats.” What we’re left with is the debut EP, Done With You, a four track escape from the present into a world painted in post-apocalyptic colors. It’s no surprise, then, to see a cover of “Giving Ground” by The Sisterhood (a side project from The Sisters Of Mercy) make an appearance here, as the release would find a comfortable place as part of a soundtrack to many an 80s horror movie. Make no mistake, however, what Usai has made is far from a relic of the past; stagnant and stale. The music is vibrant, full, and undoubtedly addictive.

When I received this release, my music player auto-assigned its genre as “synthpop.” Honestly, I haven’t had much experience listening to bands in that genre, so I decided to go look up others that might fall within that spectrum. Artists such as Chromeo, Devo, and Owl City were on that long list. Each of these is largely different from the other, and Confrontational is just as far removed. The only thing that they have in common is the heavy use of synthesizer within their music, and even the way they incorporate that instrument differs from one to the next. While Chromeo might be best suited for a club environment, and Owl City has blossomed on the radio, and Devo…well, Devo is something to listen to in your basement, Confrontational is something to be felt.

I don’t know how to really describe it to you, but I’ll try. It’s like a building, burgeoning fog. It creeps in around your ankles and thickens until you can’t make out your feet any longer. Then it begins to rise. You’re nervous to move, because you don’t trust the ground to be there anymore. But the fog continues to rise, finally enveloping you. You sense a pulsing, as though your body is resonating with some unseen force. Then sparks of neon explode around you, catching fire to the air for a moment in time before dying off into darkness and being replaced by another in a myriad of color and design. Are you inside or outside? Are you awake or dreaming? Does it really even matter? And this is just the opening track.

Confrontational yearns to create an atmosphere as much as it desires to create songs with a killer bassline or entrancing melodies. And you know what? It succeeds on all fronts. These tracks are not simply one-off explorations into a chord progression, but pieces of a developing mood. Done With You is an introduction to a bigger story; the kind of music that weaves a fabric of notes together in order to move the listener to a new place of the composer’s imagination, and each of these songs is one step further towards that realization. Confrontational is a band that you have to let just carry you away, and I can’t wait to see where I end up.

 

For more on Confrontational, visit:
Official Website
Purchase Done With You: From The Band
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