This month’s Classic Albums Column focuses on Prong’s Cleansing. Mars Attacks Podcast episode 38 features an interview with Prong guitarist/lead singer Tommy Victor, along with comments from Gene Hoglan. As we established with the previous podcast we also discuss why this album was selected. You will find the podcast at the bottom of this post.
Click here to go to an index page that gives you details on everyone involved in the column.
This time around we have an interview with Ted Parsons drummer of Prong on Cleansing. As you can see from the interview he has been quite busy since his time in the band!
What was it like to write Cleansing?
It was a collaboration between Tommy , myself and sometimes Raven.. I would come up with a groove or Tommy would come up with a riff and we would jam in the studio and write tunes old school.
Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
It was the first time working with Terry date which was great. I´m sure Tommy can go in to more detail. We were all still living in NYC at the time. It was the first time I thought we finally had our sound and songs. We mixed at Electric Lady land which I thought was a big bore. I hate big fancy studios run by snobs.
Was there anything that the band was trying to accomplish with this album?
We wanted to make a great record of course, dry and in your face. I think we succeeded.
There is a big Killing Joke influence with this particular album, was this done intentionally?
Tommy and I have always been musically influenced by Killing Joke from the start. It just felt natural with Raven in the mix.
How did bringing Paul Raven and John Bechdel into the band affect the album?
Ravens bass sound was more what Tommy and I wanted. John brought in the added effects to spice up the tracks in the studio. We needed a key board player so we could do the samples live. I was playing most of the sounds using triggers and it freed me up to concentrate on drumming.
Does it surprise you that tracks off of this album are still played on metal radio, and at sporting events?
No not at all it still sounds fresh.
Does it bother you that more than a few bands have heavily “borrowed” from Prong, while not properly acknowledging the band’s influence?
No not really. Everyone rips off ideas and sounds from other people. It´s just how you present it.
In hindsight what impact do you think Cleansing made on your career and on metal?
It was definitely one of the best Prong albums in my opinion. Good songs, good drumming, great production. I never thought being in Prong as a career. Drumming is something that I needed to do and always will be doing.
Before Raven’s passing there was a rumor that this lineup might get back together again and tour, is there any truth to that?
Yes there was talk about it but nothing ever came of it. Raven was kicking around the idea to me a couple times. Tommy asked me a few years ago to come back to play with Prong after Raven died. They were opening for Soul Fly for a US tour and the drummer at the time, Aaron Rossi was off doing a Revolting Cocks tour. I was too busy with moving and other things. I can’t say if I would go back to play Prong music, but never say never.
What are you currently working on?
Building a new recording studio /rehearsal space. Jesu, Treponem Pal,Dark Drive Clinic (producer John Fryers project). Necessary, Teledubgnosis, Dub Neurotic and a host of other projects. I have done a lot of session work over the years. And been teaching drums in Oslo Norway where I live.
Where can people go to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
Facebook,and My space is a good start. Always looking for interesting bands and musicians to work with. Contact me through Facebook for some TP drumming!
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
- Hunter S. Thompson
Here are comments that have been contributed to us by others regarding this album. Remember to check out the index page if you’re not sure who someone is, or to check out their sites to find out more about what they do. Again, these comments are in the order we’ve received them.
Dan Lorenzo – In 1992 NON-FICTION were hoping to open for Prong in Europe. We were shot down by Tommy Victor because we “weren’t heavy enough.”. Almost 20 years later you still remember stuff like this. I don’t own or know this cd. I know Prong had a few amazing songs. I know Tommy also once said he was the first guy to tune down to C in 1994. By that time I had already recorded 3 cds tuned down to C. But Jimmy Page did it before me.
Jon Leon – Never got into prong but they had a unique sound.
Joel Gausten – The first four songs are strong enough to make up for the dragging parts in the album’s second half. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the drum sound on this one, although Ted Parsons is a stellar player and one of the nicest guys on the planet.
Metal Mike – When I heard this, I said this is new. It was Metal, but not only. It has a new way of playing and structuring guitar riffs. I listened to this album non stop for a while.
Erik Kluiber – Hung out with the drummer and did a zine interview with him back in the 90s. Very down to earth guy.
Scott Middleton – Definitely one of the most underrated bands ever. I loved how heavy and simple this band could be. Tommy Victor’s vocals and guitar riffs always had purpose and carried such sinister melody. Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck is a 90′s metal classic that still sounds far more evil than most extreme metal. Combining influences from metal, industrial and post hardcore, Cleansing is truly a record that stood apart from so many other at the time.
Jane Alisabeth Grey – As riff-laden and aggressive as Prong is, what is striking about their “Cleansing” album is
their ability to groove. Bands like Prong and Faith No More sidestepped
that whole “metal can only be brutal” ethos and pioneered the idea that Heavy Music can be aggressive as hell while being unabashed about the song
having a groove to it. I feel that Prong are the obvious Progenitors of
bands like Biohazard & Pantera, however, now that industrial metal has some history, you can clearly hear the influence(recognized or not) by bands like Nine Inch Nails. This album has multiple moving guitar parts that sync together like a clock or time piece that really originate the modern industrial music sound.
JL – The 90s saw a change towards new forms of metal, Prong were pioneers in this sense. For this album, the crushing sound that has characterized Terry Date’s productions helped form a solid base that is displayed on this album. It also manifests what would become popular in metal shortly thereafter.
David Gonzalez – I actually don’t know Prong, or any of their hit. But since the album appeared on the list, I went back and listened to Cleansing. Initially it sounds like a good thrash album (with a leaning towards what seems to be their hardcore past), but the album doesn’t totally convince me. The album is possibly the band’s biggest release, and the guitars on the album sound very powerful, but I’m not fully convinced. The drumming on the album sounds too monotonous on every track. Something similar happens with the singing as well (the same thing happens when I listen to Fu Manchu), the singing just sounds all alike, and just tires me after a while. Perhaps my evaluation of this album isn’t good, and I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad album; it’s just a matter of opinion. I just feel that it doesn’t stand out as much as other albums that came out around the same time.
The podcast portion can be streamed or downloaded from here:
We kick the Classic Albums column off with Metallica’s …And Justice For All. The Mars Attacks Podcast episode 36 contains snippets of songs from the album, and comments from Charlie Benante, Gene Hoglan and Mark Strigl, along with an explanation as to why this album was selected. You can stream or download the podcast from the bottom of the page after everyone’s written comments.
Click here to go to an index page that gives you details on everyone involved in the column.
The comments are displayed in the order received.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – A great follow up to Puppets, hits hard right from the start…
Greg Prato – Although I dug this album mightily when it first came out, it just doesn’t stand up as well as their first 3 albums (which are all timeless). It’s one of the oddest-sounding metal albums of all-time too, as you cannot hear the bass AT ALL on this album! Although I was glad to see Metallica playing arenas and selling a shitload of records after years of hard work, you could say this was the beginning of the end for me as a Metallica fan, as like G n’ R, they would slowly become the same overblown rock stars they were eventually against – and most glaringly, each album got progressively worse (‘Load’? YUCH!).
Dave Starr – Where is the bass!!! I was never really into this record, “Ride the Lightning” was my favorite Metallica album
Dan Lorenzo – You want to know what I think of “…and Justice For All”? Let me throw it on. I own all of Metallica’s albums, but I don’t know when I’ve last listened to them. I respect them…I like them a lot….but these days listening to songs over 3 and a half minutes in length seems like work to me…and I already work thirty hours a week!! Fortunately, I accomplish 50 hours worth of work in that time. Ok, “Blackened” still sounds great to me. I turned it off at 4 minutes in, now the title track is on. Shit, that mellow guitar opening is majestic. Beautiful. Great riffs. Where’s the bass? I know you’re in there somewhere Jason. As a guitarist, I have to say the production actually DOESN’T bother me. Somehow the lack of bass works ok here. A little too much pseudo musicianship going on here for me on “The Shortest Straw”…..oh-ok-here comes my favorite, “Harvester of Sorrow”. Brutal. LOVE IT!! Yeah, this cd was all about “Harvester of Sorrow” for me. I saw Metallica at La Mour (NOT LaMours) with Cliff and they were tight. I saw them in Jersey at the Prudential Center on Super Bowl Sunday two years ago and they STILL kicked my ass. Yeah I left before the end of the show because I have a super short attention span.
Jon Leon – I will start by saying Master of Puppets is this bands best album BUT….you can say this album has a sound unlike any record ever released. No bass which I have always disliked. I guess it’s a cool different vibe on this album. It is not the best…but an important record in the Metallica experience. Maybe one of the most unique sounding metal albums ever. It also has some strong anti government stances lyrically. It was a vital album as they came back strong after losing the important writing influence of Cliff Burton. I think it has no weak songs. Everything is good, though the title track does not quite satisfy like the title track on Master. The last progressive Metallica before they would simplify the sound.
Erik Kluiber – a few good songs like blackened, dyers eve, and eye of the beholder. A couple of snoozers on it as well. I remember being bummed out at first listen, but it grew on me.
Phil Rind – Other than the production it’s perfect. Dyer’s Eve is still one of my favorite songs by them.
Ricky Armellino – Had a guitar tab book for that album that I saved up for and bought at a music store. That was the first time I realized you had to learn the solo AND the rhythm part behind it. Blew my mind, man.
Mitts – Incredible album, despite it’s “experimental” production. Pure metal. The difference, in my opinion, between metal and heavy metal is the amount of rock n roll influence in the riffing. There’s virtually no rock left in the formula for AJFA. Pure metal.
James J. LaRue – This changed my life. It’s not something I listen to today, as I’m one of those previously loyal Metallica fans who was thrown for a loop with the black album. It was the video for One that got me to play guitar. James playing those heavy riffs on that explorer, in that wife beater with mustache, the image of it, it grabbed me right away. I remember thinking “I wanna do that” a few seconds into my first viewing of that video. Though I had tinkered with an old guitar before this, I remember it as being the moment I made a decision to get an electric guitar and learn how to play it aggressively. I was 12. By 13 I had a Justice t-shirt cut out and sewn to the back of my denim jacket. I had a ton of Metallica patches and posters and magazine pages on my wall. They were my favorite band until I heard Maiden. I think Justice is their “peak” and they were starting to jump the proverbial shark with the black album. Metallica meant a lot to so many misfits and misunderstood youth. They were so important to me as a kid, and they just took this turn to shittiness that I never got over. It was like having a religion then finding out your god isn’t real. But I still like the first 4 albums including this one.
Scott Middleton – Some of the most aggressive and dark sounding rhythm guitar ever put to tape. Its easily Metallica’s gloomiest record as a result of Cliff Burton’s death prior to recording. Kirk Hammett’s solos on this record made me take my instrument seriously. Major respect for a band who clearly does what they want. Justice is clearly one of their least commercial records ever, and easily among their best.
Jaye Schwarzer – The first album Metallica made after the death of Cliff Burton. The songs are as heavy as anything off of Master Of Puppets or Ride The Lightning only with a lot more melody. Bass is almost non-existent throughout the record but somehow still manages to be heavy as fuck.
Kevin Estrada – When …And Justice For All had come out, Metallica had jumped from an arena support band to an arena headliner. They even made the jump in which my alterny-friends thought Metallica was cool. To be honest, that worried me a bit. My pals and I had followed and supported Metallica for years now and we had always hoped for the day Metallica became the biggest metal band in the world. But, something happened along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I think …And Justice For All is a solid album, but it marked the beginning of a departure from the Metallica that we had supported in the past. The songs were bigger, longer, slower, hookier…but it was still Metallica – afterall, a band has to spread their wings in order to grow or else they risk becoming stagnant. But in my bones, I knew that Metallica was changing and someday they would no longer be the band we loved. In my opinion, …And Justice For All was the last great Metallica album, or at least the last Metallica album that was made by the original Metallica. From then on, Metallica became a household name and things were never the same.
Dan Hardman – “And Justice Fall All” is one of my top records of 1988 and the first year I started my music career journey. I remember watching “One” the video on MTV and seeing Metallica on stage at Monsters of Rock 1988 US Tour with Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, and Kingdom Come. Metallica have paved the way for many rising artists and glad to see they are back on track with their latest “Death Magnetic”.
Steve Banks – A marathon from start to finish. Wouldn’t have made it through senior year without this album. To this day I will argue till I could puke coat hangers that this is hands down the BEST metal album ever created.
Jim Florentine – So fucking heavy. Great follow up to Master Of Puppets
Big Mario – I don’t recall how old I was when I first heard this album; I think I was 13 or 14. I remember it automatically became one of my favorite albums of all time. For some, the band’s greatest accomplishment is Master of Puppets, for others it’s the Black album. For me it’s Kill ‘Em All and …And Justice For All. Fuck, that guitar intro to Blackened is just incredible, a lot of kick ass riffs, good solos (I find it amazing that their Kirk ‘I forgot how to play’ Hammett’s). The title track is ridiculously good; everything is done to perfection and at a level above everyone else. It wasn’t Heavy Metal, it wasn’t 100% thrash, it was without a doubt a kick ass hybrid that was undoubtedly unique to Metallica’s sound. The epic track One (who hasn’t jammed away during this song with their parent’s wooden racket, pretending it was James’ Explorer?). The anthem Harvester Of Sorrow, the emotional dedication to the late great Cliff Burton To Live Is To Die. And one of my all time favorite Metallica songs, Dyers Eve, an authentic thrash gem, the perfect closing track to close a very cool album. The tracks are long, but they don’t wear you down, perhaps that is the best thing about this great album which came out back in 88!
JL – I remember being at my father’s birthday party, and having one of his co-workers let me listen to it on his walkman. The album just came out, and this guy was so hyped up about the album that he had to share it with this little brat! They had a difficult task at hand, trying to follow up Master Of Puppets. But listening to the reverse guitar intro to Blackened was just exquisite. The Shortest Straw, Harvester Of Sorrow, and the classic One. People can complain about this album, but it has some great tracks on it. My only issue is the lack of bass in the mix.
David Gonzalez – Like most people in my surroundings, the first thing I ever heard from Metallica was the Black album. It was after all the album that captured the largest audience. I loved the album, and it made me want to investigate (the band) a little more. It didn’t take that long for me to get my hands on Master Of Puppets and And Justice For All. To my surprise, those albums gave off a lot more power than the Black Album, and in my opinion where a thousand times better. The sound is a little less polished, perhaps not as commercial, but they transmit so much more. This was the authentic version of Metallica, it was what I wanted to remember the band by. My favorite track on the album is Eye Of The Beholder. I love the time changes, I could also talk about One, but that track is so epic, I don’t even want to touch it!
Gonzalo Leiva Palacios – I like the album Metallica more, but I find this album to be more technical, with a lot of precision, and a great interpretation of music. My favorite track is Eye of The Beholder, although Dyers Eve makes the album a powerhouse.
Fer Fakyea – Without taking into consideration the bands most epic album Master Of Puppets, or their best sounding album, The Black Album; ….And Justice For All is probably the band’s most emblematic album. The album contains hit after hit. It is full of perfectly elaborated melodies that have been covered hundreds of times by artist from the same genre, and others like pop or country. When Metallica comes on and you’re at a bar or at a party, changes are its something off of And Justice For All. The album combines a structured aggression, with some incredibly infectious melodies. A lot of you will hate me for what I’m about to say, but it’s true….listening to this album makes you go back in time to an era when James Hetfield knew how to sing, when Lars Ulrich played more than one drum pattern (and didn’t change what he was playing live), when Kirk Hammett knew how to play great solos, and not a series of notes that had no rhyme or reason. I love Metallica, and I hate Metallica.
Jandro Storm – That guitar sound, tuned and heavy, those dense songs, that intro, that band photo on the back cover where the band has that pissed off look on their faces…Every Friday night for about a year of my life I had a the same ritual, pop And Justice For All into my walkman before falling asleep. The song One would just leave me perplexed, although my favorite track is Harvester Of Sorrow.
David Lozano – An album that marked the transition between Metallica’s classic thrash, and the metal that would appear in the future.
Angel Rubin – I’ve been a fan of heavy metal for over 22 years; I started out with groups like Dokken, Europe, and Judas Priest. I was curious to find out about Metallica, since I had heard so many people talk about them. A friend of mine gave me a 90 minute cassette that had Kill Em All on one side, and Ride The Lightning on the other. That cassette tape changed my life forever; I had never heard a band with so much personality, originality, power, technique, rage and hooks. A few months later I listened to and knocked off my feet by Master Of Puppets. I wanted more, so in 1990 I bought And Justice For All on tape. I thought that there was no way they could reinvent themselves, and surpass what they did on those fantastic first three albums. After all, these albums have already changed my life, and boy was I wrong. On And Justice the drumming was just incredible, Lars was playing some impossible fills, some great double bass that no one had previously done. His playing on that album has influences, and been copied by millions of thrash and black metal bands.
The guitars where pushed almost to the point of saturation, Kirk was soloing frenetically all over the place. The production was like no other album up to that point. All of this combined make this album very special. I can still tell when someone is listening to the album on their head phones. This is thanks in part to the double bass on tracks like Blackened, One and And Justice For All. Another favorite of mine on the album is Shortest Straw. Frayed Ends of Sanity is another great track. The album is full of long, intense, creative tracks that never seem to get boring. The album is full of anthems that have been driving legions of fans crazy since 88.
Another thing that is often copied from this album is the great voice possessed by the hero himself James Hetfield. His voice contains a fine line between diabolical, and rabid. If I’m forced to say something about this album, it would be unsurpassable, I love its sound. Although I realize that the band isn’t really enamored with the sound of the album, I don’t think they ever thought that this album, to this day, would be a reference point and influence millions, and millions, and millions of bands worldwide. I actually have the bands logos tattoo on me.
Richard Royuela – I’ve been a big fan of the band since I first discovered them. I’ll never forget the moment I heard them for the first time, the song was Motorbreath. My relationship with And Justice For All is a bit strange, and is without a doubt the album I’ve listened to the least from the band’s classic era (considering everything up until the Black album). Maybe because my relationship didn’t start off in the best of ways. I can still remember going to the store to buy the album. I had to come back home empty handed. I had no idea it was going to be a double album; no one from my surroundings knew it was going to be a double album. I took 1,500 pesetas (Spain’s old currency), a little more than what a single album cost in those days, but not enough to cover the 1,720 peseta cost of the album. That price will always be burned into my memory. After multiple trips to the store I was able to determine that the album lacked the speed of its predecessors. The intro de Blackened was immense, but it was missing the speed that drove tracks like Battery or Fight Fire With Fire. I had to listen to the album multiple times before getting used to it. For example, the notorious mix of the album, which has become so characteristic of it, the loss of Cliff Burton, the lack of speed, etc. I finally realized that the band was evolving, and taking its first real steps toward converting themselves into a band for the masses, the biggest selling heavy metal band of all time. As mentioned above, this album became the “classic era” album that I’ve listened to the least. As a matter of a fact, when I’m in the mood to listen to Metallica I can listen to almost anything from the classic era, except And Justice For All. That said, when I want to listen to And Justice For All, it is the only album by the group that I want to listen to. Yesterday I listened to the whole album, and at times it makes me think that it’s the band’s most complete album. What I think makes the album truly special are some hidden gems that have never been overexposed within the San Francisco band’s live repertoire. Shortest Straw and Dyers Eve are the best examples of this. These are kind of like our little secrets (for long time fans of the band). That’s not to say that I don’t value songs like the title track or Harvester Of Sorrow, they’re both metal classics. Some people will ask what about One? We have to put this track on a pedestal of its own. The crescendo and the final three minutes of the track are unsurpassable, a masterpiece that goes beyond logic. These are the types of things that demonstrate the difference between any other band, and what Metallica has become. The album definitely offers so much more than the 1,720 pesetas I spent on the vinyl back in the day. As with so many other classic albums, I still enjoy listening to the album on vinyl, and have never listened to it on CD. I have reputation to live up to!
The podcast portion can be streamed or downloaded from here:
This episode is a special joint release between Mars Attacks and Talking Metal. I touch upon this during the episode mentioning that it was put together as a tribute to Pete Steele. We deliberated at great length regarding this as it wasn’t the original intention. If you listen to Episode 306 of Talking Metal you will find part of the Mars Attacks live show I did with John and Mark last month while in the states. That episode contains an interview we conducted with Anthony Esposito from Ace Frehley, Lynch Mob fame. The next episode of Talking Metal, and Mars Attacks for that matter, was supposed to contain the first half of the live show. During this segment Mark and I interview Joey Z from Life of Agony, Stereomud, and Carnivore.
Joey was nice enough to come down to the studio, and sit in with us. He came in early, and sat on the couch while Mark, John and I did our opening monologue if you will. During the podcast you’ll hear me reference a few songs, one by Warrior Soul, and another by Slash. We spoke to Joey off mic while these songs where playing, immediately he started talking about Pete Steele. He mentioned what an honor it was to be asked to play with Carnivore, and he also spoke about how funny, and quick witted Pete was. He said Pete could come up with things right on the spot, and could roll with the punches during any given situation. I mentioned this during the Dan Lorenzo segment. He also started talking about what good man Pete was, which seems to be a common theme with all of the comments that are being posted on the web. Unfortunately this was off mic, and we had so many things to talk about (we spoke almost twice as long as we originally intended), we never really got into Pete or Carnivore on mic, except for a quick mention by Joey. Due to this, I have included part of his previous interview where he talks exclusively about Carnivore.
Joey is a great guy, who will always have an open door on any of my shows. I a big fan of his music, and have come to learn what a genuine, and nice person he truly is. He was the first person I turned to when I heard the rumor of Pete’s passing. He spoke so genuinely about Pete; it was hard not to think of him when I started reading the posts on the web. During the episode I read an excerpt of the response he sent me.
The reason I included Dan was because I read his comments on Blabbermouth.net. I reached out to a bunch of different people from the NY/NJ music scene to see if anyone might be interested in providing me with a statement regarding Pete. People treat death in different manners, I know for a lot of people this has to be a difficult situation. As a result, it would be foolish for me to be upset over people not wanting to partake. Maybe the situation is difficult for them, other are on tour, and couldn’t come on with such short notice, etc. In any event, Dan immediately came forward to share stories, and help celebrate the memory of Pete.
There are no ulterior motives here, like so many others out there we just want to celebrate the life of Pete Steele. By putting this episode together, I feel that we are doing our part to pay homage to the man, and his music. I’m sure some will say that we’re doing this to ride the publicity surrounding his untimely death, but it can’t be farther from the truth. Mark and I spoke at great lengths yesterday deliberating over whether we should release this episode now, or wait a few months. I personally think that we’re doing the right thing by releasing the interview in the format we have chosen. As a fan, I don’t want someone’s memory or music to ever die. I truly believe that both Joey and Dan have helped us to do this by sharing their thoughts, and experience with Pete.
Over the course of the next few weeks/months we’ll start to hear about Pete, hopefully all good things, but I’m sure some bad will come out as well. All I can say is remember him for what he meant to you, and don’t let others sway your judgment.
I’ll close this in the same fashion that I closed the podcast, long live the memory and music of Pete Steele.
The second Mars Attacks Podcast contains an interview I conducted with Joey Z from Life of Agony Back in November 09.
Items discussed during this interview are the shows being done in commemoration of the band’s 20th anniversary, the live album that will follow in 2010, Keith Caputo’s original departure from L.O.A., River Runs Red, Ugly, Soul Searching Sun, Broken Valley, Whitefeld Crane, Steromud, Eric Rodgers use of the Steromud name, Peter Steel, Carnivore, Type of Negative, Josh Silver, Metallica, Andreas Kisser, Sepultura, Road Runner Records, Ill Niño, Dave Chavarri (confused him for Joe Nuñez during the interview, sorry), Megadeth, Dave Mustaine, Seak N Destroy, Isolated Fear, Misfits, Devil’s Whorehouse, Schecter Solo 6, Gibson Les Paul, Jimm Archie, Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Peavey, Seymour Duncan, Boss Kelli, Pink Floyd, Road Runner United, Misery, Coery Lowery, Stuck Mojo, Perfect Self, Sony, Epic Records, Sick of it All, Anthrax, The Greatest Fear, Sworn Enemy, Incubus, System Of A Down, Korn, Snot, Ozzfest, Seven Dust, Soulfly, Tool, Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Super Metal Records, System 2 Studios, Randy Rhoads, Kirk Hammett, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Method of Groove Studios, his production work, and the possibility of recording new material with Life of Agony.