Beg To Differ

Prong

Epic Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/1999

One of the neat things about this job is that I'm often hit by the uncontrollable urge to listen to something that I've not touched in years. In the halls of the Pierce Memorial Archives, I have boxes upon boxes of cassette tapes that I've accumulated over the years - many of which I've forgotten I even owned. But when I get the wanderlust to dig through these boxes, it's like a treasure hunt.

On one such dig, I came across Beg To Differ, the 1990 major-label debut of the pseudo-thrash band Prong. (You'll understand why I've labelled them this way in a paragraph or two.) Back in 1990, it was almost like their label was packaging the trio to be the next Metallica - down to even using the illustratror so charmingly known as Pushead (he's done a lot of work for Metallica) for the cover art.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But Metallica these guys weren't. They knew how to turn up the burners and pound hell out of their instruments... but more often than not, they were more interested in laying down a solid metal groove than playing fast. And though it takes some time for Beg To Differ to feel comfortable (geez, it took me nine years!), it has stood the test of time, turning out to be an album ahead of its time.

The trio - drummer/vocalist Ted Parsons, bassist/vocalist Mike Kirkland and guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor - did the unthinkable when it came to thrash metal, at least for 1990: they threw in more challenging rhythms, and dared to put the "thrash" in one particular portion of an instrument. One example that comes to mind is during "Steady Decline," when Parsons bangs out an unbelievable rhythm on the hi-hat cymbals, backed with some crunching harmonics from Victor. (As hard as I tried, it was almost impossible to hear Kirkland's bass on this album; I liked the bass work much better one album later on the track "Get A Grip On Yourself".)

Victor doesn't go off the deep end solo-wise on Beg To Differ, but he also doesn't shy away from a guitar solo, either. However, some of the solos tended to be disappointing to my ears - never mind the fact that I couldn't reproduce them if I tried. Maybe part of the reason that the importance of the solo was downplayed is because this is a three-piece band, and such pyrotechnics would be hard to reproduce live. When Victor did solo, I'd venture to say that it was more of a rhythmic solo; his rhythm guitar work is phenomenal.

The one song that did make it off this album as a single, "Lost And Found," is unfortunately a poor track to select. The label would have been better off choosing a song like "For Dear Life," "Your Fear" or even the title track. Sometimes, Prong reminds me a lot of Helmet, only with more of an edge. (It's also worth noting that Parsons's drum sound was recorded very well; his trap work on "Beg To Differ" constantly blows me away.)

I don't know if this album is still around, but if you're in the mood for something that still goes against the grain, then Beg To Differ is a great choice. Just give yourself plenty of time to get used to it; it's not the easiest listen right out of the box.

Rating: B

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.