Review Summary: The Prodigy make a return to past forms, with varying degrees of success.
The Prodigy more or less made modern electronic music what it is today. Their influence is undeniable. Their first disc, Experience, was a quirky mix of jungle and drum & bass mixed in with some clever vocal samples. There were some classic tracks on that album but the Prodigy really didn't become The Prodigy until their second disc. To this day I still think Music for a Jilted Generation is my favorite electronic release and I think I'll go to my grave with that thought. After that they had the mega hit with Fat of the Land which added a lot of vocals from Maxim and Keith, 2 guys who were largely relegated to be hype men at their concerts. The first five tracks on that disc were as good as anything Prodigy had but the disc quickly faded after that.
Since The Fat of the Land it has all been downhill for the Prodigy. While they have remained very popular in the UK their fame in the US has all but vanished. Since the Fat of Land there were mis-steps like Baby's Got A Temper and then an absolutely horrible LP follow up to Fat of the Land in Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. The disc was feature heavy with a whole lot of people the Prodigy shouldn't have been working with. Tracks with Twista were terrible, Kool Keith got a little bit too much time as a guest and Juliette Lewis nailed it on one track and flopped on another. All together their last disc was a disappointment to everyone except the most hardcore Prodigy fans.
So would they make a comeback to the mainstream with their latest disc? Pretty unlikely, but they will always have their built in fan base. The disc starts of with the title track, which was the first single. Overall a good track but far from great. The second track is their second single titled Omen. Prior to the release the Prodigy made it a point to be known that they were trying to go back to the "old Prodigy" and that is really felt on Omen. The track is a throwback to the Experience days with simple beats and a catchy hook. The rest of the disc really follows the same pattern. The third track, Thunder, is very reminiscent of Wind it Up due to it's reggae sampled vocals.
While this disc does avoid featured guests, it does have vocal samples galore. Most of them are boring and unnecessary and since they are in almost every song it starts to feel repetitive. The only sample I really like is the female vocal on Warriors Dance, which is probably my favorite track. I just don't understand why every song has to have vocals on it. I am struggling to remember for sure, but I think there are several tracks between Experience and Jilted Generation that didn't have any samples at all. And that's OK, this is electronic music. It's the music that's important and it's nice to hear a group as good as The Prodigy without vocal samples everywhere.
The biggest problem with this disc is that there really aren't any standout tracks. Each one just blends into the next. Then there are tracks like Oman Reprise which is just a big tease. After the first minute of this track I was feeling like it was going somewhere. It had a deep, brooding beat and I was waiting for the explosion. Then I looked at my Zune and the song was over at 2 minutes and 19 seconds. It just dies.
While the Prodigy did do a good job of going back to their roots, they forgot to make it interesting. Tracks never builid into anything. Every song falls into the same pattern. I think the most hardcore of Prodgy fans are still going to like this. For those of us who felt they have been fading the last decade aren't going to have their mind changed by this one. Its too bad, but their best work is behind them.