Messrs Howlett, Flint and Maxim return from a 6 year hiatus with their new project titled The Day is My Enemy and a welcome return to form it is as well. Going off the boil ever so slightly since the seminal 1997 offering The Fat of the Land the boys are back with an ultra aggressive project that showcases them at their electro punk best. Produced by long time collaborator Neil McClellan The Day Is My Enemy follows on the usual Prodigy traits of hyperactive drum patterns and explosive bass crashes intertwined with electronics reminiscent of that pioneered during the early 90’s rave explosion. The Day Is My Enemy features 15 tracks with the title track being a reference to a line in the Ella Fitzgerald track All Through The Night that Howlett had recorded with Martina Topley-Bird around the Invaders Must Die sessions. This track kicks of the album with its militaristic drum beat and distorted vocals before the industrial detonation of electronic bass and anarchic arrangement drives it onto what is to continue for the most part 80% of the rest of album.
The first single Nasty follows with its Japanese Shamisen intro that sounds as if its been sampled from a 1970s Bruce Lee fight scene. Nasty is unmistakable Prodigy with vocals split between Keith and Maxim in their respective duelling vocal roles. Howlett again follows the heavy grinding synth pattern but the inclusion of some spooky Scooby Doo whistling throws the track away from pure anger. Rebel Radio and Ibiza featuring Sleaford Mods are quite energy laden but neither amount to the quality of the first two tracks, the latter having a pop at the Superstar DJ culture, but our Rabble Rousers are soon back on track when Destroy opens with an 8 bit tinkle that erupts into a homage of Acid House electronics and break beat drums whisking the listener back to times when Dust Masks and E’s dominated the rave scene. Wild Frontier the third single, follows in stereotypical Prodigy style and showcases just what they do best, driving drum beats, edgy basslines, chaotic lead synths and effects sounding like they had been pulled from a Sega Mega Drive game. No criticism at all though as they make it work and at times spectacularly.
Rok-Weiler doesn’t present the listener with anything out of the ordinary in the current track listing and is a solid album track, but the instrumental Beyond The Deathray with its anthem like Riff and rumbling Bass line calm proceedings down a little but always giving the feeling the track could explode into chaos at any given moment. Rhythm Bomb featuring Flux Pavilion is the anomaly on the album as the looped rock guitar grates ever so slightly but the fact the feet still tap to it proves the infectious nature of Howletts work is still present.
Roadblox is one of the high points, incorporating driving programming accompanied by Maxims vocal, broken up by subtle sounding electronics that brought to mind Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence for some strange reason. Next up is another slice of guitar fuelled anarchy with Get Your Fight On and the Middle Eastern intro’d Medicine which again features the all too familiar stabbing electro bassline sitting uncomfortably behind Maxims “A spoonful of sugar just to sweeten the taste” vocal line and whirring techno effects. The tempo is dropped on Invisble Sun with a lone electric guitar playing at the rear of intelligent electronics over a mid paced beat. The violent drum pattern is properly resumed on the next track and 4th single release Wall of Death which again adds a bit of Scooby Doo eeriness alongside Flints psycho like shouting.
The album culminates with the weak Rise of the Eagles which is a bit of a throwback to 70s punk and on comparison with the rest of The Day Is My Enemy is the runt of this litter but fortunately if the CD is your medium of choice you wont have to endure it, ITunes buyers on the other hand…….well its easily skipped. The Day Is My Enemy is a ferocious body of work and although in short periods the track listing is a little turbulent, (which can be expected with 15 tracks to muddle through on an album) it really is a return to form. The uncontrolled manner in which the material was written arranged and produced exudes The Prodigys energetic style and gives an urge to move either feet , hands or whatever other parts of the body that may be free at the time (well, within reason !!).
Howlett and co have created an album that is in your face, a wall of sound if you like, that once explored produces a lot more intricacies than one will experience on one or two listens alone and although there are few subtleties within the sound scape, the siren noises, industrial grindings, mixed with distortion from all angles, assists in making the album cohesive and hugely enjoying. Howlett has mentioned previously that he will sonically work sounds he’s previously collected and it is apparent as you could be forgiven for thinking that they only ever use about three drum patterns for everything they do and regurgitate bass lines galore, but in perspective it works and all too well in this albums case, and for The Prodigy it sets them apart from the wannabes such as Skrillex etc and keeps them as the benchmark in the electro rock/punk genre. If any advice can be given to a prospective purchaser, make sure the volume is well up when you test drive The Day Is My Enemy, oh, and the neighbours are out for a few hours as one play wont be enough.