Hot on the heels of last year’s brilliant “Ruining Lives album Tommy Victor and co. have returned with a 10-track album of covers from punk and hardcore bands that influenced the young frontman. Covers albums can often be seen as filler or contractual obligations that rarely end up sounding as good as they promise, but there was never any doubt with Prong, was there?
Luckily it only takes seconds to find out that this is one of the better covers albums out there. It opened with a blistering cover of Discharge‘s ‘Doomsday’, and is Prong at their fiercest. There are similar efforts given to Black Flag‘s ‘The Bars’ and Bad Brains‘ ‘Banned in DC’. These tracks shown a clear link to the band and their sound, and are done full justice as you would expect. The inclusion of a Killing Joke track is also a given, as the band themselves have often stated their love for them. The choice of track is a strange one though, choosing 2003’s ‘Seeing Red’ over something from their early days, but fair play to them for not just going for anything too obvious.
From there the album throws a slight curveball by giving you a clue at other, more alternative and less obvious sounds in Tommy Victor‘s musical development. The Butthole Surfers‘ ‘Goofy’s Concern’ and Fugazi‘s ‘Give Me The Cure’ prove to be fine choices for the band’s style and come across really well, staying quite faithful to the originals while adding a little twist. The biggest surprise is the closing track, a cover of Neil Young‘s ‘Cortez The Killer’, which takes a few listens to get into but still feels a bit out of places amongst the other tracks.
All in all, an album by a great band covering a bunch of tracks from other great bands should be a recipe for a fine album, but I have been burned before with such projects. There may be a couple of weaker tracks, and they fall somewhere in between the punkish bite of the original and the classic Prong sound, ending up being neither and coming across as a bit of a wasted opportunity. It’s cool to see bands open up and try different things, and these albums tend to see me expanding my musical knowledge by checking out a few more of the bands featured, but something about this release doesn’t quite show the band at their best. Good, but not great.