Let me just get it out of the way right now – There are metal bands, there are grind bands, there are industrial bands, there are highly energetic and expressive bands, and then…there is Prisoner. No matter what a band like them could ever be compared to, influenced by, or otherwise; Prisoner is truly a one-of-a-kind act. While this WFA and virtually every word talking about their legacy may be mostly my opinion and perception of them (outside of course, the general facts about the band’s history and current activity, as well as some other tidbits), it is hard not to see the fact in the statement that this is a group of genuine musicians with an expressive, passionate, aggressive spirit about them that reflects monstrously within their titanic sound. A sound just as punishing and fortified as the emotions, experiences, and viewpoints that went into its conception, please welcome Prisoner as this week’s Weekly Featured Artist.

Now that I’ve gotten a good summary of my drooling over this band out of the way, time for some more facts! Prisoner began in the year 2013, releasing music that a Redditor described as ‘in the vein of His Hero Is Gone, Cursed, The Secret, Econochrist‘, which is likely in reference to their May 2013 effort, literally titled . Featuring crusty, grindy, angry ass-beaters such as “Symptom”, “Forewarned”, and “Fuck Tunnel”, even in their early stages, the band would make waves within the underground of Richmond, VA. Even if you were to just consider them another heavy band in a city full of heavy bands, there was a spark to this band that didn’t feel all too common, even if familiar. While other bands were still in the throes of the djent wave, beatdown, and other trends within metal music at the time, this band was bringing back the good ‘ole days of abrasive grindcore-laced punk metal, with maybe a hint of blackened grit thrown in just for good measure. Pulling no punches and giving the punk and hardcore kids something new to fight each other to, it’s no surprise that Prisoner would catch on especially with those perhaps exhausted with the aforementioned ‘trends’ dominating much of the scene at the time, even if not completely.

The chemistry among the band is a noticeable quality within both their live performance and songwriting as well. I came across this band sometime between 2016 and 2017 when they performed a show at Strange Matter, and by then they had begun incorporating more of the synth and industrial elements into their sound. A jarring layer on top of an already massive, teeth-gnashing sound, this would only make the atmosphere surrounding what Prisoner does all the more unsettling, and I mean that in exactly the best possible way. Us metal and grind lovers tend to appreciate ‘weird’ and unorthodox things musicians will do when crafting this style of music. There were incredible acts aplenty on the bill that night, but Prisoner was the one that stuck out most to me, and I became a fan instantaneously. Having followed the band since, it feels rather cathartic to finally be writing about them and some of their more current efforts now, seven years later.

What new and current efforts are Prisoner up to these days? I’m glad you asked! As of March 15th of this year, they’ve dropped what is likely their most profound release yet, which gives no discount to earlier records, of course. But, just when all us who were following Prisoner from an earlier time were sure it couldn’t get but so much better than 2017’s Beyond The Infinite (which, yes, is in fact referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey), they hit us with PUTRID | OBSOLETE, an 8-track portal straight to hell and back which features only a small change in personnel from the prior release, adding Adam Lake in the mix to take the role of Synths, Samples, and programming across the record, as well as Justin Hast taking up bass in addition to vocals.

Not only is this their second full-length as a band, but it was also released under the Persistent Visions Records label, which is also home to the legendary likes of Pageninetynine and Massa Nera. A fitting place for a band such as Prisoner, this new release has only put them further on the map, grabbing much more attention among not only the band’s hometown, but elsewhere. A tour with fellow hometowners, Listless, just recently wrapped up, as they took their chaotic, noise-laden act throughout the southern region of the East Coast during the latter portion of March. While Prisoner has had no shortage of attention to their craft prior, this seems to be a time when more and more are paying close attention to the band, as they’ve most definitely made their mark on the eastern end of the United States.

“Leaden Tomb” is a personal favorite from the new album. It is only one boulder in a mountain of cold, relentless, blistering waveforms as PUTRID | OBSOLETE progressively breaks down and shatters any remaining sanity in the listener. The album is a pinnacle of the band’s talent for creating a real soundscape for listeners to explore. Haunting and heavy, it also features great riffs and blazing drum work. But it seems to drift somewhere outside of the box of these casual metal tropes, forming something of its very own that mixes blackened, hardcore, death metal, noise, and electronics into a blend that will easily find its way into your nervous system. If you never heard of or delved into the work of Prisoner prior to this release – you’re getting them at an immense high point here, with a fine polish of sorts to their production as well as their overall songwriting.

So what makes Prisoner so special? Maybe it’s the oppressive sound that feels like something out of or inspired by the best Sci-Fi horror flick of the last decade; Maybe it’s because it continually amazes me that bands with this much finesse and edge to their style actually come from my own hometown; Maybe it just feels right to write about a band I feel that’s ‘doing it right’ in terms of their approach and contributions to metal music. But in all seriousness, this is a band that I have, for years now, identified as truly passionate individuals that craft something reflective of both deep, insightful perceptions of the dark side of humanity, all while expressing and conveying it in a way that feels quite creative and in a manner that tells a bit more of a fun story to interpret.

Whether intended or not, I believe there to be an energy radiating off of the band and its members that proves there’s much more to metal music than just headbanging and loud noises. Fun as the former may be, no matter who you ask, there’s a sense of connection within this often enigmatic genre. Some may consider the ‘stranger’ music to be something a bit more niche and of its own sort of clique, yet I see a whole community come together to celebrate a band like Prisoner and feel more in-tune with this music that is, for some, thought to be so ‘strange’. I think Prisoner are a shining example that the weirder any pre-existing or even new form of music or style gets, the healthier that becomes for it. Perhaps it becomes healthier for us listeners, too – You may consider it to be something obscure or different, but a breath of fresh air never really hurt anybody.

Regardless of how they can or can’t be interpreted, Prisoner march on as one of the most solid and hardworking acts out of my city. It is an absolute honor to write about them, and my hope is that any and all who read this give them the honest chance they deserve, but I have high confidence you’ll walk away a fan as I have. In fact, that’s a big part of why I felt so inclined to do this WFA on them – Honest music with a genuine passion behind it is just simply something I can’t pass up. It’s hard to look at anything a group of individuals has worked tirelessly with for over a decade, acknowledge how relentlessly they keep pushing to hone their craft and better it, and not see something reflective of that sincere spirit embedded into every note, lyric, frequency, and multiple takes of ‘shit, start this one over’ during the studio sessions.

I challenge anyone to walk away not a fan of a band that pretty much pours themselves into what they do the way I see Prisoner has for at least 7 years now. But hey, if nothing else? Give them a follow via Instagram, Facebook, or Bandcamp, and see for yourself. Be sure to keep up to date with any of the above for upcoming shows near you! We’re only about a month past the release of PUTRID | OBSOLETE, so expect these mad lads to do plenty more shows in the way of support for the album…

Prisoner is…

Pete Rozsa – guitars, vocals
Dan Finn – guitars, vocals
Justin Hast – bass, vocals
Joel Hansen – drums
Adam Lake – synths, samples, programming

(Photo by Tony Lynch)



Easygoing weirdo with a love for life, music, art, culture, outdoors, meeting new people, seeing new places, and trying new things. Oh yeah, and I guess I never shut up about the things I love, too. That’s a quality!

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