Sound — 9
This record kicks off with a massive groover "However it may end" featuring some seriously mean vocals, hand-breaking downstrokes from Tommy Victor and brutal chug in the breakdown. A good choice for the first single!
"Zero Days" starts with a fast syncopated riff resembling the one from "Ultimate Authority" from their previous album and leads into a chorus that has endless reserves of head-banging power. The song further features the first real guitar solo and an almos endless variety of drumming patterns from Art Cruz. I hope Tommy won't let him go.
"Off the Grid". A true hardcore hymne with (I think) a bit of melodic death in the middle and a catchy bridge.
"Divide and Conquer" was chosen as the second single. I must admit that the song didn't impress me at a first glance. I think it works better in the context of the album, not as a standalone track. However, it is not to deny that the chorus is a good singalong, although sometimes predictable. But again, it works best as a "pause" between the fast "Off the Grid" and...
"Forced into Tolerance". I think Prong are moving in a thrash area here. Like Anthrax with a better singer. No signs of slowing down at all.
"Interbeing" is perhaps the most experimental of all if this word is appropriate. First of all, Tommy appears to use a vocal box or something that do things to the voice. Very special. Second, you can find growls in the second chorus (!). I guess they invited a guy for this. Nonetheless, kudos.
"Blood out of Stone" is very atmospheric and another attempt at melodic singing. Overall, reminds me of "With Dignity" from X-No Absolutes. I love the bridge.
"Operation of the Moral Law" is perhaps the last song on the album to break the speed of sound again. Tommy Victor again does his best here on the lead guitar.
In my opinion, only "Self righteous indignation" is below average. "The wispers" and the three last song are still good, although not as good as the first eight.
Lyrics — 9
Tommy said in an interview that he tried to be very precise with the lyrics. I'm no English speaker so I can't really judge if the task can be considered fulfilled. What I do think is that the lyrics and how Tommy sings them sound very authentic. I'm not sure who did these brutal growls on "Interbeing". Regardless ot this, Tommy Victor himself sounds a bit angrier than usual.
I don't know exactly what his political opinions are but apparently the last U.S. presidential elections provided him with lots of food for thought. Keep raging, Tommy!
Overall Impression — 9
Is there any other band nowadays that keeps coming out with high quality records at such a rapid pace? Prong are one of the rare bands that don't try to reproduce their success formula over and over again but that are able to keep pace with modern tendencies without sounding rubbish. Although largely described as groove metal, post-thrash even industrial band, Prong are more than that. They provide a unique blend of all these and other music styles including hardcore and what sounds to me like occasional melodic death elements on more recent albums.
The bottom line is that I like the album better than "X-No Absolutes." More than that, I like this album more than any other Prong record. I'm not a fan of the first hour. Therefore, it is not much of a heresy for me to say that there's something better than Cleansing or Beg to Differ. The set list would certainly benefit from "However It May End", "Zero Days", "Off the Grid", "Forced Into Tolerance", "Interbeing". Can't get enough of this.