I remember the day I heard the first tracks off The Prodigy’s new album ‘Invaders Must Die’. It was on 16th May 08 and The Prodigy premiered ‘Warriors Dance’ and ‘Worlds on Fire’ at their club show at The Plug in Sheffield. I remember being so impressed and excited about these tracks! This was especially for Warriors Dance, with its catchy melodies, old school influences but all presented in an entirely new wrapper.
Throughout 2008 the band then introduced more and more of the new material in their live shows. ‘Run with the Wolves’ in Barcelona in October and then ‘Omen’ and ‘Take Me to The Hospital’ on their UK tour in December.
The big news soon followed, they had finished the album and it would be released on 23rd February 2009! Like most fans of the band, I couldn’t wait to hear not only the studio versions of the live tracks we were all so excited about, but was also eager to hear what the rest of the album sounded like.
Then, in early January 09 I got to hear it, the full new Prodigy studio album. In full length, from start to finish, one chance to listen to it all. Yay!
So here it is; my initial review of the album. And while this is an initial impression, one thing that’s for sure is that there is still so much more to discover on this album…
1. Invaders Must Die
The album kicks off with its title track, ‘Invaders Must Die’. We have all heard this one, as it was the first track made available online to everyone as a free download in late 2008, complete with professional video. (You can watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiqFcc_l_Kk).
While some of us said it wasn’t a very accessible track when we heard it the first time, it has not only impressed me a lot at the live shows but it is a real grower and stays around almost like an anthem. It’s a great album opener and title track. And while it’s got a clear influence by Pendulum, it is of course also very Prodigy.
I noticed also that the album version has a different outro than the downloadable single of the track had, and was leading rather seamless into the next track, …
We heard ‘Omen’ for the first time at the live shows in the UK in late 2008 and it is set to be the first single off the album to be released mid-February 2009. The video is now available online as well on the Prodigy youtube channel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMVTKOoy1uk.
This track is just so very melodic and the vocals by Maxim and Keith are much more ‘singing’ than any other Prodigy track we’ve heard. It’s such a mix of styles, from old school, to punk rock, techno and breakbeats – where do I even start! The result is a track that is in places heavily produced, but to the extent that it works just perfectly and as a whole is just pure energy.
Like on the track ‘Invaders Must Die’, effects are used over the voices and the combination of Keith and Maxim on vocals sounds fantastic. What a great single to return with!
‘Thunder’ is a track not yet played at the live shows and brand new to us all. It starts with an initial build up leading quickly into its main reggae-like sample “I hear Thunder but there is no rain. This kind of Thunder breaks walls and brings pain” which leads into the main chorus “Thunder, Thunder”. It’s an amazing track. Great breakbeats with a real old school vibe that still sounds very fresh. The vocal sample sounds brilliant and makes it very catchy. I’m here almost two weeks later after hearing this track just once, and I still have it in my head!
There’s something in the beats of ‘Colours’ that reminds me in a slight sense of AONO, but in a very good and fresh way. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but there’s something here that bridges the style from the last album to this whole new sound in this track. It’s all electronic, sexy with a catchy melody in the instrumental and had some production work by Morgan from ‘Does it offend you, yeah?’. The vocals are by Maxim and Keith and they fit the IMD theme perfectly and go something like “I’m ready for the war, bring your colours to the floor!”. This track is a grower I think. It doesn’t have as much of that instant intensity when hearing it the first time as some of the others on the album, but you can tell it has so much potential and that you’ll get to love it.
When I listened to this track I just thought I’d gotten the full flavour of it when all of a sudden this amazing build-up just brings another new dimension to it, the beats speed up and it all releases in some amazing break down. In fact, this happens on many tracks on this album, and every time manages to keep the tracks fresh and keep surprising you, yet make them sound so Prodigy!
5. Take me to the Hospital
‘Take me to the hospital’ – what a track. This was played live for the first time at some of the later shows on the UK tour in Dec 08 and became a fan favourite then. The studio version just confirms what we knew then already – this really rocks.
Starts with these amazing old school synths just like taken from the early rave days, then erupts into these rocking beats. Throughout the track there’s a play on the siren sounds, which suits the “welcome to the scene of the crash …” lyrics.
6. Warriors Dance
Now this is a tune we’re all familiar with in its live version since it’s been played at the live shows most of last year already. It’s such a danceable summer tune, so easy to get into, I can’t imagine how anyone could not love this track.
Of all the tracks we’ve heard live, the studio version of this one is in some ways the most predictable as it’s still so very close to the live version. Which is a good thing. The massive bass, the female voice sample, the horns, it all works so well.
Towards the end, like with other tracks on the album, there is a break and then the horns come back in, breaking the silence, building up once more to the voice sample and full on beats.
The outro of the track is a spoken sample, which I couldn’t make out if it was taken from a film or someone talking.
7. Run with the Wolves
‘Run with the Wolves’ is another real favourite of mine on this album, it’s the most punk rock of it all and a really fast tune.
Keith’s vocals work amazingly and to me this is the track ‘Warning’ never got to be, it’s even better and more dark and dangerous, pure adrenaline, the kind of track you can’t sit still to.
And once more, just towards the end as you think you’ve got this track figured out; it leads into a soft synth line that adds a whole new touch to this tune, before it continues again with its heavy military beats.
8. Omen Reprise
‘Omen reprise’ is obviously as its name suggests a retake on ‘Omen’. Starting off with siren it contains distorted samples from ‘Omen’ but yet is different than a remix. It’s almost cinematic in its feel and purely instrumental. Works very well and after the loudness of ‘Run with the Wolves’, this track brings you back down to earth.
9. Worlds on Fire
“3 – 2 – 1 – 0….” Many of us have heard this track live now as it was played at most all of 2008’s shows. The studio version has even more of an edge than what we heard live. It builds on a repetitive voice sample of “Worlds on Fire” with clever piano lines, vocals by Maxim and yet again some old school influences that pay tribute to Prodigy’s roots.
‘Piranha’ is the track that contains the most vocals and is the typical Maxim track. While he performs vocals on ‘teeth gripping’, the pounding beats are a just setting the right tone to visualise the piranha’s power . “P-P-P-Piranha” is pure attack.
Towards the end again a sudden unexpected breakdown, that goes quieter on you for just a bit before then leading to even faster and harder beats, bringing this powerful tune to its end.
11. Stand Up
I said a number of times in this review that parts of tracks just went down an unexpected path. But nothing could have prepared me for the surprise ‘Stand Up’ would be.
The intro begins like an atmospheric theme but then leads into this completely different track. It’s a happy track, with chilled, slow beats and melodic synths that will just bring a smile to your face.
Some people said they were hoping for another ‘Narcotic Suite’ on this album. That’s not what this is; instead think something like David Holmes’ 69 Police, but with an edge.
And so it ends. Wow.
The album flows perfectly from start to finish. It’s one where you should disable your shuffle features for a change and play it from beginning to end. At the same time I think each of the tracks can stand their own and there aren’t really any fillers. Be prepared for a sudden rush of energy and excitement, too …
Welcome back, The Prodigy.
By Andrea Schnepf
Note: Change on 25 Jan to reflect that vocals in Colours are by Maxim and Keith, NOT the guy from ‘does it offend you, yeah?’