“I’m not here to be sterilized,” exclaims Keith Flint during “Wall of Death”, the closing track from The Prodigy’s sixth studio album, The Day Is My Enemy. Relatively silent since the supporting tour for 2009’s Invaders Must Die wrapped a half-decade ago, this 14-track disc has been hyped as a call to arms to the new EDM landscape — which Liam Howlett harshly critiqued during an October 2014 interview with NME. Since ’09, producers have become coveted main stage headliners, a position that wouldn’t have been feasible without the groundbreaking work of The Prodigy and their 1990s big beat contemporaries. With that fascination, the push to please the ultra-VIPs and bottle-service crowd has hit a new plateau, but Flint, Howlett, and Maxim won’t be trading in those family jewels anytime soon to just stand behind the decks and cash in on mega-club paydays.
As noted by Flint, when the group first began laying out the framework for the album, the intentions were to create the most “band” album of their careers. The strategy was sound, as so many of The Prodigy’s enduring singles are too large for the DJ booth (“Out of Space”, “Voodoo People”, “Breathe”). Sitting mid-album, “Beyond the Deathray” epitomizes this new band-focused approach, and it’s probably the most beautiful track in The Prodigy’s discography; however, the revered schizophrenic beats of the crew hinder this from becoming a “band” album in the popular sense of that word. More regularly, like during lead single “Nasty”, what commences as some industrial rock epic quickly morphs into a nu-rave scorcher aligned with the vibes of Invaders Must Die. Structure only acts as a hurdle; when the electro of “Destroy” morphs into dubstep and then fades away into some piercing noise, that’s The Prodigy that listeners want to be consumed by.
It’s easy to judge their criticisms as a “back in my day” condemnation of a scene they helped create, but their actions show otherwise; The Day Is My Enemy is meant to inspire the next generation of main stage headlining
DJ electronic artists. Echoing the grimy hip-hop numbers that line their catalog, Sleaford Mods are featured on the satirical banger “Ibiza”. The trio also enlisted UK dubstep titan Flux Pavilion for the pummeling, yet so sultry, “Rhythm Bomb”.
Decades before deadmau5 was headlining Lollapalooza and Skrillex was having tracks featured in tech ads, The Prodigy was establishing its own routes into the more commercial aspects of the music industry. The trio moved units, but never sold out. And, to guarantee the longevity of their art, they demand the same from their new dance music brethren.
Essential Tracks: “Destroy”, “Rhythm Bomb”, and “Beyond the Deathray”