It has been 25 years since explosive Essex agitators The Prodigy burst onto the raging rave scene of 90s London. Now, the tearaway trio (often dubbed “The Godfathers of Rave”) have released a hellish electronica soundscape that is their new album, The Day Is My Enemy.
Australian fans first received a taste of the band’s sixth studio album when they toured in Feb/March as headliners for the Future Music Festival. It plays out like an aural journey through the underbelly of a polarised, urban nightlife – where angry energy lurks on every graffitied street corner – and the band doesn’t shy away from dark themes whilst maintaining a typically infectious house beat. As per usual, it’s the music and not the vocals that reign supreme.
Having seemingly peaked with 1997’s The Fat of the Land and 2009’s Invaders Must Die, much of The Prodigy’s efforts since then have been dismissed. The surviving members of the group – founder and producer Liam Howlett and MC’s Maxim and Keith Flint – have turned a corner with The Day Is My Enemy.
The record opens with the titular track, and a sultry woman’s voice (British singer Martina Topley-Bird) croons over an anarchic anthem of cacophonous, cerebral beats. It’s a fantastically bombastic beginning, followed on by popular single ‘Nasty’ – a highlight of the album.
The epic anti-establishment theme quickly conjures up images of the flame-red fox on the album’s cover, scurrying the burnt orange alleys of an almost post-apocalyptic London town. The song is a thundering electronic assault on the senses, peppered by Flint’s primal howls (“I ain’t no tourist!”). A distinctive drum ‘n’ bass beats is heightened by a sample from Alex Proyas’ 1998 film Dark City, together emitting a vibe that is as paranoid as it is hopeful.
Despite heavy themes of animal cruelty and political legislation surfacing in many songs, ‘Nasty’ is a stand-out and can just as easily pass as another rebellious dance number from Britain’s favourite fiery ravers.
‘Rebel Radio’ drops an unusual Indian-inspired backbeat towards the end, transitioning just as randomly into a video game like ditty that is party-central theme ‘Ibiza’, featuring Nottingham hip-hop duo Sleaford Mods. ‘Destroy’ kicks off just as sporadically with a kiddie keyboard type effect, before an ultra-rave club beat drops and regulates the mood.
The next single is ‘Wild Frontier’. With a pulsating beat and Flint’s fuzzy vocals played over the top, like ‘Nasty’, it’s another crusading dance crescendo where animals rise up against repression. Keeping with the theme, ‘Rok-Weiler’ bites like the dangerous dog of its namesake, with lightening sharp guitar licks and a barking mad chorus chant.
‘Beyond The Deathray’ is purely instrumental, and by instrumental, I mean artificial. Like a soundtrack to a futuristic resistance, there’s something very Muse-like about the 3-min swell of classical piano over a synthesised loop.
Anaesthetised drones tinker in-and-out of each song on the album, forever lurking in the clandestine shadows of a suffocating fictitious cityscape. “I can’t tell you why this record came out so angry, I think it’s just inbuilt in me,” Liam Howlett said of the album, “I’ve always seen music I like as a form of attack”.
The Day Is My Enemy throbs through a combination of over-stylised effects: snarling snares, distorted riffs, glitchy dub-step intervals and synth symphonies. It’s a top-to-toe nocturnal nightmare of epic proportions, once and for all cementing The Prodigy as one of Britain’s most influential and enigmatic electronica bands of their generation.
The Day Is My Enemy is out March 27th through Take Me To The Hospital / Cooking Vinyl.