We should be used to Metal’s Favourite Dance Band taking their sweet time when it comes to making new music, but even by The Prodigy’s lackadaisical recording standards, six years is a sizeable gap for an act that have to contend with multiple scenes and fanbases forever shifting into curious new shapes.
Their awesome 2009 opus Invaders Must Die vigorously reaffirmed the festival-dominating behemoths’ top-dog status by taking on contemporary dance and obliterating the competition, slaying any worries that they may be approaching retirement home status or, dare it be said, looking out of touch.
While longtime fans will be happy to hear that The Day Is My Enemy offers more of a nod to their latter 90s output than its predecessor, newer devotees will be equally ecstatic to find that Liam Howlett and his two ami-bros are still sounding fresh, vibrant and offering enough new takes on their unmistakable noise to keep them a relevant force in 2015.
Harsher, heavier and, at times, more daring than anything they’ve offered since Fat Of The Land, The Day Is My Enemy sends preconceptions quickly spinning with its dark, brooding and meticulously paced title track, forebodingly kicking the album off in a manner that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album.
While lead single Nasty could easily be mistaken for an Invaders… b-side and, arguably, wouldn’t have been missed had it not been included here, the triple-gut-punch of big beat stomper Rebel Radio, Streets-on-acid romp Ibiza and Destroy’s psycho-rave smackdown get things screaming back on track, offering moments that seem destined for field-wide moshes in the near future.
At this point we may exhale a mightily relieved sigh, ladies and gentlemen – The Prodigy are indeed back, and as this album’s numerous highlights show, they are still the only game in town.
While there aren’t too many forays into entirely unfamiliar territory to be found, Wild Frontier is a real departure by Liam’s standards and an absolute gem for it: a euphoric, futuristic odyssey that feels like downing a bag of magic mushrooms and jumping headfirst into a Mario Kart game (this is a good thing). Rhythm Bomb, meanwhile, with its 90s samples and ruthlessly heavy drops, is a flawless spiritual successor to Invaders… jam Warrior Dance and also an inevitable live favourite.
Road Blox is a pacey techno anthem worthy of flipping all manner of furniture to, and the ragga-slam groove of Medicine, well-placed space-age instrumental Beyond The Deathray and atmospheric Invisible Sun chalk up the remainder of the album’s real high points.
In fact, truth be told, there really isn’t a bad song on here. Admittedly, 14 tracks does make for a potentially patience-testing running time (this ain’t prog metal, folks), but ultimately, The Prodigy have yet again taken a great steaming piss over the competition, reinstalling themselves as a band that diehard thrashers and pilled-up techno-heads can admire and adore in equal measure. Rock on, rave on.
Music For The Jilted Generation (XL – 1994)
Though 1992 debut Experience was a masterclass in dark rave, this was the first sign that The Prodigy were more than a brilliant dance act. Poison, Voodoo People and No Good set the bar for decades to come.
The Fat Of The Land (XL – 1997)
The album that installed them as the go-to dance act for moshers, this took …Jilted Generation’s heaviness and beefed it up to empire-rattling levels, with Firestarter and Breathe hallmark 90s anthems.
Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (XL – 2004)
A misstep by The Prodigy’s lofty standards, AONO still packed some screamers – Spitfire remains one of their greatest moments – but was lacking a lot of the bite that personified everything that came before and since.
Invaders Must Die (COOKING VINYL – 2009)
Armed with enough bangers to fill the 4th of July, Invaders Must Die proved The Prodigy could hang with dance’s contemporary heavyweights while still remaining relevant to rock-oriented audiences. It was, as they say, an Omen./o:p
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE DAY IS MY ENEMY HAS COME OUT AS HEAVY AS YOU’D ANTICIPATED?
“We’re happy. It’s the most aggressive record we’ve ever made; we didn’t set out for it to be – it just came out like that because of our surroundings and what we were going through in the band. It was quite a turbulent time. Although I didn’t want to write an album that was on 11 the whole time, as otherwise tracks lose impact. Some of the heavier tunes on this record work better because of how and where they sit on it.”
WILD FRONTIER HAS A VERY DIFFERENT VIBE TO ANYTHING YOU GUYS HAVE DONE BEFORE. HOW IMPORTANT IS BREAKING NEW TERRITORY ON EACH ALBUM TO YOU?
“I think you should be able to bring a few different influences in, but retain what you are all about. I think it shows a lack of confidence in a band when they change their whole sound. I’ve always said that our music is made up of the same three things: punk rock, beats and chaos.”
WAS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN THE WAY YOU RECORDED THIS ONE?
“I used the computer more like a tape machine, which got me back to playing riffs rather than programming. I fucking hate sitting in front of a computer like some accountant pressing buttons, so I’d just set all my gear up in a room, put some synths going through a guitar amp and hit ‘record’. That in itself made it more spontaneous and interesting.”/o:p