Returning for a fifth release since their 2012 hiatus, PRONG stay true to form for Zero Days pouring buckets of aggression and energy in to the album’s openers “However it May end”, title track “Zero Days” and “Off the Grid”.
Opening straight with a kick to the trachea, “However it May End” shows the band’s capacity in speedy rhythmic riffing, though unfortunately lacks much in the way of substance. Had the band stuck to one or two ideas in the song and developed them further, it could have been a classic but instead the 3:36 running opener feels much longer, and not in a good way.
Let down largely by bland production, Zero Days is a vulnerable record for the band, highlighting the less inspired moments in their song writing. Receiving no benefit from what comes off as an unbalanced mix in the album’s title track their sound falls short. The snare sounds well designed and tight but is over sampled and causes an artificial, almost copy & paste sound to the drums throughout. It’s these aspects of Zero Days that causes it to lose so many points, whilst a good mix and finished production will never make a bad album good, it can easily make what should have been a passable, even enjoyable album feel a bit stale and phoned in.
This isn’t to say the band haven’t put work in to the record, with vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor saying “I must say a lot of effort was put into this new “Zero Days” recording. From the minute I would get off tour, I would consolidate ideas from the road and form new ones.” but perhaps a more hands on approach from co-producer Chris Collier would have helped cut some of the chaff from the record.
Not entirely worth disregarding, Zero Days does have its moments, in particular “Blood out of Stone” sees the band utilise their assets well, with a change to pace and a more prominent place in the mix for Tommy’s vocals. A track that’s easy to appreciate with well correlated lyrics and sonic build-ups, the hook crashes in early feeling familiar and energising. Clearly capable of writing well structured songs, “Blood Out of Stone”’s chorus is well crafted and only made bigger in the climactic closing of the track.
The album closes its 13 track span with “Wasting of the Dawn”. It doesn’t sound like an album closer, which is fine - but on a record that already feels so recurrent, and after seeing evidence of well executed builds and pay offs earlier, you’d hope they’d deploy that songwriting here in the album. Overall Zero Days is a respectable outing, current fans of the band will surely find something here to wreck their heads to, and in the upcoming tour PRONG will likely garner new followers if they use the best bits of this album, but if you listen to “Blood out of Stone” or “The Whispers” and don’t find yourself gripped, perhaps Zero Days isn’t for you.
Review by Paul Simmonds