First Spin… The Prodigy's The Day Is My Enemy
Back in December last year The Prodigy's main creative force Liam Howlett was already giving it the big'un about their sixth studio album, saying that their new LP The Day Is My Enemy would “wipe the floor” with the current crop of EDM DJs dominating the dance music scene. So was he right?
Next week (March 30th) you'll be able to judge for yourself, but in the meantime we gave it a spin to find out if it lives up to the hype...
'The Day Is My Enemy'
We kick off with the title track, and if this album is intended as Howlett & Co.'s declaration of war on the EDM scene, the tribal drums that herald the album's opening salvo couldn't be more apt. As the second single released from the new album, fans will already be familiar with this track's pounding drums and mangled vocals, featuring a hook from Cole Porter's 'All Through The Night', performed here by longtime Tricky and Massive Attack collaborator Martina Topley-Bird. It's a snarling, menacing opener and a signal of things to come...
The lead single from The Prodigy's new LP and the first to feature Keith Flint's trademark growling vocals, underpinned by an angular, distorted riff that wouldn't be out of place on The Fat of the Land. If there's one thing that's already becoming apparent on this album it's the fact that The Prodigy are clearly not falling into the trap of being influenced by the dance music styles currently dominating the scene around them. You get the sense that they've locked themselves away and approached this record with the same single-mindedness that saw the band dragging their sound from the underground warehouse parties of the early 90s and into stadiums and festival headline slots. If any fans were worried about a radical departure, they needn't have; this is Prodigy 101 and it's great.
Arriving with a robotic vocal motif and The Prodigy's trademark sliced and diced breakbeats and driving riffs, we're three tracks in and the pace is still pretty full-on. Not that we were were expecting anything sedate, but even by The Prodigy's standards The Day Is My Enemy is shaping up to be be a bit of an aural assault.
'Ibiza' (featuring Sleaford Mods)
In a track Howlett has described as being an attack on the Ibiza DJs that “arrive in their Learjets, pull a USB stick out of their pockets, plug it in and wave their hands in the air to a pre-programmed mix”, 'Ibiza' marks the first of the album's guest slots in the form of the excellent Sleaford Mods. Vocalist Jason Williamson lends his typical stream-of-consciousness lyrics to a track that kicks off with yet more pounding, in-your-face beats. It's a short, sharp shock of a tune but Williamson's snarling vocal style is so well matched to Howlett's production he could be a permanent member.
You could be forgiven for being ready for a bit of a breather from all this hectic pace so far, but the next track is called 'Destroy', so obviously you're not getting one. It's not one of the album's standout tracks, but it's no less violent than everything that precedes it and just as brutal. This is not so much 'wiping the floor' as tearing up the floor boards entirely before burning the place to the ground.
Another of the already-released singles from the LP, 'Wild Frontier' opens up with a gorgeous sounding synth riff that finally offers a bit of respite, although it isn't long before it's backed up by some broken beats and Keith Flint inviting you to “come and face your fear / in the wild frontier”. The moments where the beats drop away and the track is allowed to breath bring some much needed dynamic range here and it's definitely one of the album's best moments so far.
Surging synths, growling basslines and stuttering drums are the order of the day on 'Rok-Weiler', which picks up where Wild Frontier left off. There's something a bit 'Atari' about some of the synth sounds on this album and it's really working. Another standout moment for us.
'Beyond the Deathray'
Ushered in with a spooky, distorted synth line and a chiming piano riff, this is one of the most expansive moments on the LP with no real drumbeat to speak of, but it sounds huge. It's not quite what you'd call orchestral, but with its swelling strings and rhythmic, distorted bass it's one of the album's most reflective tracks.
'Rhythm Bomb' (featuring Flux Pavilion)
Another of the album's strongest moments comes courtesy of this pulsing track which features Flux Pavilion's Joshua Steele. With one of the LP's most infectious hooks, we wouldn't be surprised to see this released as a single. After the relative calm of 'Beyond The Deathray', this is The Prodigy back in top gear and firing on all cylinders. It's marvellous.
If you imagine a cross between Jilted Generation-era Prodigy and Kavinsky's excellent contributions on the soundtrack to Nicholas Winding-Refyn's Drive, you're in the ballpark of the sound exhibited on 'Roadblox'. It's probably the closest the album comes to sharing some DNA with the likes of Deadmaus, but that's not saying much. The Prodigy are out on their own here and show no signs of doing anything other than churning out their favourite brand of aural anarchy.
'Get Your Fight On'
Kicking off with an eastern-tinged guitar riff that sounds almost like a mangled sitar, we're back to more of The Prodigy's trademark beats and surging synth riffs. Possibly the least essential cut from The Day Is My Enemy, but again this is textbook stuff from Howlett and friends which will do nothing to disappoint the band's most loyal fans.
There's more of that eastern vibe on offer here on 'Medicine' courtesy of the track's opening and recurring sample, accompanied by what is probably Maxim Reality's best moment on The Day Is My Enemy, offering a vocal style that's in contrast to Keith's shouting, snarling contributions. It's a bit of a grower, this one.
Probably the only track on the album that has a beat you could describe as downtempo, but it benefits from that bit of extra space in the mix and with the volume cranked up it sounds absolutely huge. Maxim & Keith appear to be doubling up on vocal duties here and the effect is a powerful hook that propels the track to its conclusion. Along with 'Medicine' and 'Beyond The Deathray', this one of the tracks on the new LP that might take a few listens to really get into, but it could wind up being another favourite.
'Wall of Death'
Just in case you thought The Day Is My Enemy was going to slip away quietly, here comes 'Wall of Death' to remove any such silly notions. This is The Prodigy with all guns blazing, chucking everything at you from the opening guitar riff in a full-on attack on the ears. It's the raucous, heavy sound we've come to know and love from Howlett & Co. and it's an appropriate closer to an album that sees the band at their most frenetic.
Overall, The Day Is My Enemy is a record that will please fans of The Prodigy's more full-on, hardcore sounding moments. The never-diminishing anger of their trademark sound is matched by an urgency that recalls some of The Prodigy's best moments and while time will tell if this LP will matched in the eyes of their fans alongside The Fat of the Land, it's certain that they aren't playing the game of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest fads and for a band that has done so much to change the face of dance music over the years that shouldn't come as a surprise. The Prodigy have spent years carving out their own unique niche, so why should they stop now?
The Prodigy's new album The Day Is My Enemy will be released into hmv stores on Monday (March 30th). hmv will be stocking an exclusive EP from the band, which is also available from Monday, click here for more details.