ProngPower of the Damn MiXXXer
2009 13th Planet Records/Megaforce Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Remix albums are sometimes sketchy and almost always suspect by invitation, that is, unless you happen to be one of the electronic or rock artists called upon to tweak and reinvent an existing body of work. Though Trent Reznor has called upon the remix trade perhaps one too many times, there’s no denying latency for creative influx as gestated by a masterwork such as Isis’ Oceanic. The Oceanic remixes album is perhaps one of the finest excuses to spin cycle previously-released work, while the on the opposite end of the spectrum you have Milli Vanilli’s Quick Moves: The Remix Album. Dare anyone take that atrocious point further than need be?

At least Static-X has always translated well in remix form, while Maynard of Tool managed to create a remix album more than worthy of the original source in his offshoot experimental band Puscifer. Even Linkin Park managed to dress up their crowd-pandering Hybrid Theory album with a relatively meaningful remix endeavor Reanimation, which actually surpasses its senior by miles.

Industrial groups such as Ministry, Revolting Cocks and Skinny Puppy were fashioned towards inspiring the expansive minds of electro spin doctors via their coarse and abrasive loudness set to tapped-out pulses. However, it stands to reason the proposition of a genuine heavy metal act thrown into spindled anti-wax reinvention really treads the razor’s edge of acceptability. Seriously, coming to a Prong album advertising tech-dripped remixes leaves a skittish gnaw in the guts by attrition.

As heavy metal has enjoyed a resurgence, pop and electronic music have accordingly taken interest, assuming you’ve been to any rave in the past few years to testify. You might even say as of the two Mortal Kombat movies and their loud and digitally-giddy remix-oriented soundtracks, the course towards Prong’s Power of the Damn MiXXXer was inevitable.

Though Zakk Wylde and the late Dimebag Darrell unintentionally stole some of his thunder, Tommy Victor has remained one of metal’s most reliable riff regals. There’s a decided difference between the original formation of Prong which recorded the Headbangers Ball-courted tunes from Beg to Differ and Prove You Wrong and the lone-wolf Victor version of Prong issuing latter-day slabs such as Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager. Nevertheless, there’s no denying if you’re going to want the most kick-ass crunch chords to amp up your loop-happy motherboard, you’d be coming to right man with Tommy Victor. Just ask Al Jourgensen.

Prong’s 1996 album Rude Awakening and to lesser measures Cleansing before it, provided peekholes into at least the potential for what has derived as of 2009 with Power of the Damn MiXXXer, a hot and occasionally cold scrambler session of Power of the Damager. Though the title song “Rude Awakening” is one of the band’s most mainstream cuts, it’s also one of their best. In its own way, that song, much less the rest of Rude Awakening opened the gates for Tommy Victor, much less an ensemble of beatmasters and metal dudes checking in on Power of the Damn MiXXXer.

Though Power of the Damager may not rise to the favorite position of Prong’s devout, it was an appreciably gung-ho effort from Victor, who at least showed the metal world he wasn’t about to merely settle for random appearances at overseas festivals and cashing in on the popularlity of “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.”

There are some seriously heavy moments on Power of the Damager, which translate into a slew of monster remixes for Power of the Damn MiXXXer, even if not every single one of them are gems.

Of the best, Pitchshifter’s Jon Clayden does a crafty rip of “Worst of It,” which, under his supervision comes off like a raging, groovy Filter cut as of Short Bus before turning loose Tommy Victor’s crushing riffs when needed to reiterate their sheer heaviness. Xris Flam keeps the core drive and string squeals of “Can’t Stop the Bleeding” bobbing through a juicy digi-tempo while Virus of Dope sets “Looking For Them” through the bouncy passes of an addictive electro-metal hop.

Power of the Damn MiXXXer’s most interesting remixes come courtesy of the same song, “The Banishment” and its offsetting assemblers, Rob Caggiano of Anthrax and Clayton Worbeck of Revolting Cocks. In many ways, Caggiano’s barely-metal techno bob rings more like Revolting Cocks (and LaTour, for that matter) than Worbeck’s. Caggiano wisely hones in on Tommy Victor’s primary riff tears and rhythmic vocals set to his implemented dry-humped gyration. This is not to say Worbeck’s take on “The Banishment” isn’t representative of his own group’s influence since there’s still a dirty grind to the remix; however, Worbeck’s approach is harder on the bass throb and his beat sampling creates more of a smacked-down essence than Caggiano’s rump shaker.

Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan creates a cacaophonous industrial garroting effect on his coldwave mix of “Bad Fall,” which more or less isolates a riff splice and yowl from Victor set on a not-too-fun, dirge-filled loop indicative of the old Wax Trax days. Ditto for Seismologist’s slow, bass-driven crust tempo on “Messages Inside Me,” albeit their recut is far less cataclysmic; plus, there’s a very cool fusion of violin fugue merged into Tommy Victor’s blaring miasma. On the other hand, AK1200 & GENR8 do a hemped-up, spin-heavy twist ala Atari Teenage Riot on “Pure Ether,” another of Power of the Damn MiXXXer’s more exciting trips.

Power of the Damn MiXXXer is generated out of a love for hearing things so much outside the box there’s capacity for new life, a trait very few cashola remix albums possess. When listening to “No Justice” from Power of the Damager, one of that album’s nastiest tunes, hearing an altogether different tweak ala DJ? Acucrack’s machina-fucked assertion, it’s safe to say some people partake a body of work differently than others. It’s the fact the artists tinkering around with Tommy Victor’s work actually appreciate his tone richness so much they can envision something equally heavy scoped-out through different spectra.

Rating: ***1/2

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