Prong/Spoil Engine – Belfast, Voodoo – 19 July 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Saturday, 22 July 2017 05:00

Tommy Victor is undoubtedly one of the hardest working men in heavy metal today. Since reforming Prong five years ago, he has recorded and released five albums in that period, and tours almost incessantly. Throw in the fact that he also slings his guitar in support of Glenn Danzig and you have to admit that, despite his denial that he is a workaholic, his work ethic is pretty impressive and laudable.


Prong 5


Tonight was the second of a run of five dates on these here islands, as part of the first promotional tour in support of the band’s forthcoming new album, ‘Zero Days’, which is released this coming Friday (28 July). It’s a typically punishing schedule, which sees the New York trio travelling the roads and playing the stages of Europe for the best part of a month, with only the occasional day off (which Victor probably will spend prepping material for the next album, as seems to be his MO). Joining on the trip are Belgian modern metal mob Spoil Engine – and, to be honest, we reckon there were more than a few of us who thought they’d have been better off enforcing an early Brexit and remaining on the continent…


Spoil Engine 3


Although it is virtually impossible to see them through the impenetrable wall of smoke, vocalist Iris Goessens looks like she’d be more comfortable fronting the likes of The Pretty Reckless rather than this ten-legged groove metal monster. The band’s sound is a concoction of styles, blending several elements of ‘core sounds with snatches of thrash and pepperings of classic metal, with the overall feel being that of a second division Arch Enemy.


Yes, they are taut and efficient, and create a decent vibe for what’s to come, managing to get a few heads nodding and middle fingers raised in the process, but their cause is not helped not only by the choking fumes which fill the room virtually right up until their penultimate number but also by the fact that the lead guitar is completely lost in the mix. A bit “meh”, if we’re brutally honest (which we are…).


Prong 6


The wait before the main attraction may be only 25 minutes or so, but it seems interminable: still, it gives time for the venue to fill up. Now, Prong may have a new album to promote, but Victor is aware that only a handful of people in the room have actually heard the darn thing, and so he kicks off the set by delving right back into the Prong archive, proving that metal is indeed in his veins (sic) with “the first song we ever released”. It’s evident right from the off that the set is going to be frenetic, and so it proves: by ‘The Ultimate Authority’ we’re may be only two songs, but the whole room is bouncing, and so are Victor, who is stamping the song’s title squarely in the middle of everyone’s foreheads, and Mike (Longworth) – Art Cruz probably would join in too, if he weren’t anchored to his drum stool!


Prong 2


What follows over the next 90 minutes is non-stop: it’s pure, it’s raw and it’s visceral; it’s emotionally and physically challenging, and draining, as the band draw you into their performance and keep you there until the last note has died in the night air. It’s hot and sweaty, and getting more so by the note, but Victor doesn’t stop movin’ and groovin’: you have to wonder where these guys get their energy from (well, in Tommy’s case, it might just be the amount of tea he drinks!), as the intensity of the set and its delivery would blow any thermometer into exploding oblivion.


It’s not hard to hear, especially in the older songs – and, by the way, the likes of ‘Rude Awakening’ sound just as relevant now, if not even more so – where bands like Slipknot and SOAD found part of their early inspiration, but it’s also good to see that Prong remain fresh and vibrant, constantly pushing themselves, moving inexorably forward and ignoring the trends going on around them, remaining true to themselves, the vision of their leader, the music they produce and, in the process, the fans like those who have packed into this tiny side street club and who need no second invitation to snap fingers and necks until both threaten to do just that.


Prong 8


Prong’s UK and Ireland tour finishes at The Underworld in Camden tonight (Saturday 22 July).


Look out for Über Rock TV’s interview with Tommy Victor, coming tomorrow (Sunday).


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen/ Über Rock.


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