“Snap your fingers, snap your neck!”
Attitude, balls-out aggression, and industrial soundscapes: this describes Prong’s 1994 breakthrough album Cleansing. Taking the massive thrashings of Pantera, the grungy aggression of Helmet, and the atmosphere of Killing Joke, Prong threw a bunch of what made 90’s metal great into one absolute sucker-punch of an album.
While Prong had made a name for themselves in the thrash underground with their 1990 classic Beg to Differ, Cleansing brought their penchant for knockout grooves and addictive hooks to a whole new level. It is an album that demands your attention and through its crushing aggression, you can expel all your frustrations. It rarely lets up, and immediately gets you pumped with the chunky beating of opener “Another Worldly Device”.
Songs like “Whose Fist Is This Anyway?”, “Cut-Rate”, “Broken Pieces”, “Test”, and the classic “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” are the absolute embodiment of kicking ass, with hooks that you won’t believe. With this album, Prong hit the perfect stride of simultaneously being monstrously heavy and infectiously catchy. Especially with “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”, which I would easily call this one of the best songs of the 90’s. The dense, bass-heavy, and rhythmic hook that drives the song makes this an instant mosh-pit anthem. “Cut-Rate” can join the likes of Pantera’s “Domination” and Sepultura’s “Dead Embryonic Cells” as having one of the greatest massive grooves to dominate the bridge of a thrash song, while “Broken Pieces” and “Test” bring in a bit of funky bass to blend with the shredding riffs.
Frontman Tommy Victor barks with utmost conviction throughout each song, and even on the rare chance that the music lets up, he maintains a roughness that still works. With Killing Joke’s very own Paul Raven on bass coupled with Victor’s love of the band, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that songs like “Not of This Earth” and “Home Rule” are very reminiscent of the aforementioned band. Similar also, is that the whole album maintains an underlying industrial backing sound. Raven and drummer Ted Parsons dominate the entire album with an incredibly strong rhythm section, and Victor’s surging guitar playing blends beautifully to create what really is one of the grooviest albums I’ve ever heard.
While Prong never quite got to the same big-name status as some of their contemporaries, I believe Cleansing deserves to be mentioned alongside classics such as Vulgar Display of Power and Arise as one of the greatest metal albums of the 90’s. When it comes to crushing riffs and monster hooks, Cleansing delivers with some of the best of them.