Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Prodigy-Invaders Must Die

Originally Written and Posted on Epinions.com on 3/29/09.

When the Prodigy returned following a seven-year hiatus with their fourth studio album Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. The album was met with a lot of anticipation but the result was mixed responses from fans and critics. Notably since the record is really the group's brainchild Liam Howlett doing all of the music with various vocalists guesting on the record. Absent from the album were group vocalists Keith Flint and Maxim Reality, the latter would appear in a remix in one of its singles. It was around the time Howlett had a falling out with Flint, who had received attention in the band's hey-day for his punk look and singing on the band's famed singles from The Fat of the Land back in 1997.

In 2005, Howlett, Flint, and Reality released the best-of compilation Their Law: The Singles 1991-2005 which included a remix of Voodoo People and Out Of Space as its promotional single. The record also marked the band's last release for a major label as well as their affiliation with Madonna's record label Maverick, which had been acquired fully by Warner Brothers. After a two-year hiatus, Howlett and company decided to form their own label with help from the famed Cooking Vinyl label while starting work on their fifth studio album entitled Invaders Must Die.

Produced by Liam Howlett with additional production by James Rushnet of Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Invaders Must Die is an album that returns Howlett and company to the energetic, charging sounds of albums like Music for the Jilted Generation and The Fat of the Land. Though doesn't have the speedy, big-beat sounds of those records in some respects, the return of Maxim Reality and Keith Flint adds bite to the album for some hardcore electronic music with big beats and such. Featuring contributions from Dave Grohl of Nirvana & the Foo Fighters on drums and British vocalist/songwriter Amanda Ghost on backing vocals. Invaders Must Die is an album that Howlett and company got their mojo back.

The albums with its leading single in its title track co-produced by James Rushnet. Starting off with a warbling, intense track of bass lines from synthesizers and keyboards, it is followed by fuzzier keyboards and a simple, drum beat that goes into rock mode. With its squealing, high-pitch, fuzzy vocals and distorted vocals of its title, it's a song that gives the album a good start though it's not a great track overall. The second single Omen is a track with squealing synthesizers, driving beats, and intense bass lines that has Keith Flint singing through warbling vocal mixes. Yet, it's a track that has a lot of energy and crazy, intense beats that play through as it's a great choice for a single. Thunder is a track with growling guitars, Maxim's reggae-inspired vocals, and upbeat, bumping beats. With its layers of droning, bleeping synthesizers and frenetic beat arrangements, it's a song that really captures the energy of the early sounds of the Prodigy.

Colours with backing vocals by Amanda Ghost, is an energetic, frenetic song with a punk-rock energy in guitar and vocals from Flint and Ghost. With its charging guitars, wailing synthesizer melodies, and industrial-like beats, it's a song that has a great energy though its flawed when it slows down a bit every time. Take Me To The Hospital is a pulsating, warbling track with blaring synthesizer melodies, bumping beats, and fuzzy bass lines with vocals that are distorted through its layers and performance. Keith Flint's punk-growling vocals come in for the middle of the song as he delves into its energy and all of its carnage-like presentation. The third and current single Warrior Dance opens with a saxophone solo that wails through with hollow, thundering beats. With its wavy, melodic synthesizers and the vocals of Bridgette Grace from a sample of Take Me Away by True Faith & Final Cut. It's a song that is energetic yet filled with an array of beats from the very fast to simpler, more rollicking beats as it's another fantastic single from the Prodigy.

Run With The Wolves with drums by Dave Grohl, is a rocking song with charging guitars, Grohl's hard-pounding, upbeat drums, and wailing synthesizers. Led by Flint's growling vocals, it's a song that is brilliant in its electro-punk style with Grohl's drum being the main force along with Flint's punk-like demeanor. A reprise of Omen with its spurting synthesizers, bubbling noises, and blaring keyboards with vocals from its track popping up. World's On Fire is a track that features two samples, I Just Want To Get Along by the Breeders and Vamp by Outlander. With Maxim's vocals saying the line repeatedly through out the song, it's that vocal line that is the only major flaw for the track as it's repeated for the entirety of the song. Yet, it's arrangements of frenetic beats, blazing synthesizer layers ranging from flourishing melodies to squealing drones that does make the song bearable despite is repeated vocal line.

Piranha is a fast, industrial-rocker with an array of layered beats ranging from tribal to metallic as its accompanied by driving guitars and blaring synthesizers. With Maxim's growling vocals, it's a song that continues to maintain the album's energy along with eerie, theremin-like synthesizer tracks. The album's final track is Stand Up featuring Dave Grohl on drums. Opening with an ominous synthesizer drone that builds up, it starts to arrive with blaring, melodic trumpets from samples of songs by Manfred Mann. With Grohl's mid-tempo yet thundering drums, it's a song that has a simple beat and pounding bass lines. With its layers of squealing synthesizers and bouncing presentation, it's a fitting closer to the album.

Appearing in several deluxe versions and a four-track EP entitled Lost Beats are two bonus tracks. First is Black Smoke, an instrumental track with driving, droning bass synthesizers and metallic, tribal beats. With claps and growling guitars, it's a nice instrumental track that doesn't have much going for it despite its unique arrangements. Fighter Beat is another instrumental with wavy, droning synthesizers that plays through along with industrial-like, scratchy beats. With distorted clap beats and melodic synthesizer flourishes and bleeps, it's another interesting instrumental track that doesn't go anywhere but shows that Howlett wasn't running out of ideas.

While Invaders Must Die doesn't reach the brilliance of the 1990s recordings the Prodigy made, it's still an excellent yet energetic and fun album from Liam Howlett, Maxim Reality, and Keith Flint. Fans will rejoice in the fact that the band found their mojo after the somewhat lackluster Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and the very misguided Baby's Got A Temper single. While it may not be innovative, it's a record that doesn't dated either as Liam Howlett along with his various collaborators finally created an album that does live up to what the Prodigy can do. In the end, Invaders Must Die is a declaration that the Prodigy is back and not ready to go away quietly.

(C) thevoid99 2011

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