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Prong/Spoil Engine/Hark at Underworld, Camden - live review

Nineties NY groove pioneers power up their classics

Cover art for Prong/Spoil Engine/Hark live at Underworld, Camden

Riding the momentum of their Machinations album, Swansea bruisers HARK [8] possess a growing and dedicated fanbase, but burdened with an early start time few ears are blessed with their restless tunes as they roar to life. Mixing rock’n’roll with crushing sludge, frontman Jimbob Isaac’s vocals prove just as raw as his riffs. Hark’s inalienable confidence and power make their short show feel like a well-kept secret, reserved solely for those dedicated enough to hit Camden early. With their mixing entirely cutting out Bart Vandeportaele’s rhythm guitar and Dave De Loco’s bass, SPOIL ENGINE’s [5] set proves sadly lifeless. Frontwoman Iris Goessens’s repeated cries for a moshpit remain unanswered by the gradually filling Underworld, with the only saving grace being the melodic metallers’ onstage chemistry. Regular bouts of synchronised headbanging eventually get a similar response from the audience, all united in their excitement for the impending headliner.

With their groove-driven riffs and rhythms, PRONG [8] lay out a metal masterclass, opening up with the brief, confrontational Disbelief. The crowd-inciting Beg To Differ rears its head early, its simple-yet-gigantic drumming and taut guitar setting a thrilling precedent. Prong’s power trio status allows them freedom on the small stage, with leader Tommy Victor and bassist Mike Longworth always mobile, while continually firing out classics throughout the second half of the set. They lay down four cuts from Cleansing consecutively, peaking with a double whammy of Whose Fist Is This Anyway? and Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck. The momentum drops, however, as the New Yorkers opt for the newer, lesser known duo of Sense Of Ease and Divide And Conquer to close the set. Thereafter, the anti-climax is offset by two encores, beginning with a venue-wide singalong of Revenge… Best Served Cold, but from then until tonight’s conclusion, Prong remain unstoppably on fire.

Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.