Way back in ‘98, or maybe ‘99, I would go in to the local music store (Music Mart at The Glen Shopping Centre back then) and I’d go through the racks of CD’s. At this time I was buying a lot of soundtracks, particularly horror movie soundtracks, because it was a great way to find new bands.
It was the height of the Nu Metal movement, and I discovered newer bands like Static X and Powerman 5000, plus unreleased tracks by bands I already knew and loved, and some really cool cover songs too!
One such soundtrack I bought was ECW: Extreme Music, a collection of wrestlers theme music from the hardcore wrestling promotion of the late ‘90’s. On this album was Aussie rockers Grinspoon doing a song called Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck. It wasn’t until later that I realised this was a cover, and thus my love affair with Prong begun.
Cleansing, the bands fourth record, is their classic album for mine. While their debut, Force Fed, from 1989 is a rawer more aggressive recording, and the next two releases, Beg To Differ and Prove You Wrong were signs of what was to come, it wasn’t until they teamed up with Pantera producer Terry Date, that they really came into their own.
Cleansing is a groove metal masterpiece. In 1994, while other bands were changing their sound to capitalise on the grunge explosion, Prong doubled down and brought some crushing riffs, gravely vocals and a hint of industrial soundscape worthy of comparison to Ministry. Tracks like Another Worldly Device, Whose Fist is this Anyway and Cut Rate are unashamed to punch their point home, with scathing lyrics, snarled vocals and chunky riffs galore.
From beginning to end, Cleansing blends hardcore, groove, punk rock and industrial elements to create a sound that was completely original at the time, as demonstrated on tracks like One Outnumbered. Couple that with the outstanding production work of Terry Date, and we have a timeless master class that still sounds fresh and relevant 25 years on, something that is rarely accomplished.
Just listen to Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck or Not of this Earth if you require proof of Prongs capabilities. They are the perfect blending of all the major influences, and an example of how/why Prong main man Tommy Victor can go on to play with Danzig and Ministry.
Prong still release top notch records, but Cleansing will remain their high water mark, at least in my opinion.