Monday, 4 May 2015

Review: The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy [2015]


    Although I may have been briefly previously aware of tunes such as Out Of Space, No Good (Start The Dance) and Poison, it was really when Firestarter came out that I, and I'm sure a whole bunch of others, really started to take notice of British ravers The Prodigy. It was Keith Flint's new punk look that intrigued me as a 10 year old already interested in a little bit of 70s/80s punk rock but mostly 90s Brit pop and Brit rock. Whereas he was once really only a long haired dancer along with the giant Leeroy Thornhill, Keith was almost seen here as a frontman. It happened again with Maxim, although already been at the forefront of previous tracks, in the Breathe video, leaving brains of the outfit Liam Howlett quietly enjoying the success of his songs from behind the controls. This escalated The Prodigy from being a DJ led rave act to an innovative rock band of sorts. On top of that, the music was guitar sample led and quite heavy. Both Firestarter and Breathe especially can be considered by many musicians today as songs that got them into heavier music.

  Over the years, the album that spawned those singles, Fat Of The Land, is still considered a classic and an almost revolutionary masterpiece. The band have kept their position as one of most beloved dance acts as well as a proud British export. Both ravers and rock fans alike have been able to enjoy the amazing live spectacle that is The Prodigy both at their Headlining shows and at festivals across the globe. Although later albums Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and Invaders Must Die did not manage to beat Fat Of The Land's global success, they both reached number 1 in the UK. Tracks like Spitfire (which, at least when I was at University, was being played in rock clubs everywhere along with Pendulum's Tarantula), Omen and Invaders Must Die still kept longtime fans happy and gained them new ones. Everyone was of course awaiting new material and eventually 6 years later the full album has arrived and also hit number 1 in the UK. So....was it worth the wait and the hype?

   Followers of the blog will be aware that I have been quite excited about this new release and already shared my thoughts on some of the tracks that were already released with lyric videos and/or actual videos. The title track and album opener The Day Is My Enemy is a great track to start off the album and a really good track in general. It starts off with some heavy thumping courtesy of Swiss drumming group The Top Secret Drum Corps which then gets used throughout the tracks while singer Martina Topley-Bird (known for her work with Tricky and Gorillaz in the past) sings the lyrics "The day is my enemy, the night my friend", inspired by Ella Fitzgerald's version of All Through The Night. The track has a slow pace and is generally quite reminiscent of Spitfire. Topley-Bird's vocals fit the sentiment of the lyrics perfectly and also compliments the dark mood of the drumming and main riff.
    Tracks like Nasty, Rebel Radio, Get Your Fight On and Wall Of Death are the most rock-like tracks on here. Nasty starts off with a twangy riff which is so reminiscent of something it's killing me. It sounds like something you might hear in a martial arts movie, almost as if it's played on a Pipa (traditional Chinese lute). The track itself literally sounds "nasty", with Keith snarling the lyrics as per usual, heavy beats and some dirty fuzzy synths. There's a bit in the middle of the song where you hear someone say either "I ain't no tourist" or "I ain't no Taurus". I'm not entirely sure.That's going to bug me... Rebel Radio, after its robotic intro, is based upon guitar stabs along with synths, electronic bleeps and whatnot. Every now and again, you hear an uplifting calling of "That's the rebel radio sound" which makes you want to throw your fist in the air.
  Get Your Fight On has some ringed out guitars played over some funky breakbeat for a majority of the track, accompanied by the lyrics "Get your fight's something to bite on". Not really deep and meaningful, but catchy, nevertheless. The synth parts remind me of Invaders Must Die...but then again, synths would do that. This is definitely a song which will get your feet moving whereas the others are more for throwing shapes and jumping up and down.
  Wall Of Death starts off with a riff that keeps tricking me into believing I'm about to listen to something by Lamb Of God or something. Then the heavy pounding electronic beats come in and we're back on track. This is pure Prodigy, with Keith proclaiming "Fuck this and fuck the cash! Fuck you and your heart attack!" Not totally on board with the latter remark. Who would you say that too? Although not lyrically challenging, the track itself is a slight return to Fat Of The Land and therefore a hit.
  Despite also having guitar parts, the heavy synths and characteristically Prodigy beats on Destroy take us back and forth between the ...Jilted Generation era and what has been more common from them in later years. Rhythm Bomb similarly mixes guitar stabs with simple old school dance techno beats. The female vocal samples bring to mind No Good, which isn't a bad thing at all. Roadblox begins sounding a bit like an 80s new wave ballad of sorts, until we get to a little glockenspiel/music box melody which then leads to pure drum and bass beats. I love a bit of drum and bass so this perked me up a lot more while listening. I can see this track being a total floor-filler in the near future if it isn't already.
   Both Wild Frontier and Rok-Weiler (this will soon be a whole new breed of dog) both have intros that make me think of classic computer games. Wild Frontier has already been released to the masses via it's creepy animated video but as a song it doesn't really do anything for me. Rok-Weiler, on the other hand, is a bit more up beat and has that slight drum and bass edge to it. Still, it reminds me of when I used to play something like Hi-octane back in the day.
  For me, Roadblox and Rok-Weiler could be considered album highlights along with Ibiza, Medicine, Invisible Sun and even iTunes bonus track Rise of the Eagles. Ibiza, upon first listen, was just a total delight. With help from Sleaford Mods, the track has that proper British swagger and Prodigy snarl, with the "Eye-Beefa" mantra and "What the fuck is he doing?" parts burying themselves deeply in your brain. Despite written to be poking fun at the simple DJ culture of Ibiza, it musically has the magic to get people pumped on a night out. Medicine, which could in a way be considered the sister song to classic track Poison, has an Eastern feel through parts of it due to a flute melody. It might be slow paced like the title track but the "A spoonful of sugar just to sweeten the taste..." chorus, along with guitar stabs and hype parts, all make the track a pleasure to listen to.
  Although Beyond The Deathray is also a very unexpected track, with no beats, just an atmospheric soundscape, Invisible Sun stands out as being almost like a slow rock jam. I can imagine lighters aloft as people sway along to this. Beyond The Deathray has grown on me on further listening but did just feel like album filler. Rise of the Eagles is most possibly my favourite of the whole album despite only being a special bonus track. It has that feel to it that reminds me a little bit of Walk Like A Panther by All Seeing I mixed in with Cobra Style by Teddybears Sthlm.

   On first listen, I wasn't taken to the album straight away. Maybe it was because of the mood I was in at the time, but some of the slower paced ones just didn't do anything for me. I felt at times that I had heard it all before; same old synths, noises and beats. I kind of felt that Liam Howlett had run out of ideas. Nevertheless, the more I listen, a majority of the songs still hold up on their own. Ibiza and Wall of Death especially are future classics. If you ever had a fondness for The Prodigy but haven't hear this album, I suggest you do but you will have to listen a few times for some of the tunes to really sink in.

No comments:

Post a Comment