Review: The Devil Wears Prada

September 10, 2013

The Devil Wears Prada, record after record, continue to punch out some of the heaviest, most influential metalcore in the genre. Since 2006, the once-six-now-five-piece outfit have been honing their calm-before-the-storm mixture of breakdown brutality and melodically rich choruses, and are now widely recognised as one of the biggest players in melodic metalcore as well as on the Christian metal scene. After setting such a solid foundation in utter ferociousness, the boys from Ohio are starting to step out into the land beyond ‘core on 8:18, and it’s doing them a world of good.

The record opens with Gloom – a track, which avid fans may already know, has preemptively been added to the band’s live set. It’s standard fare for TDWP; maliciously thick and chainsaw-to-the-face aggressive (sans the actual chainsaws we heard on the Zombie EP). It’s a great sound, but it isn’t the one that defines this album.

What makes this album truly special are the tidbits of progressive metal introduced throughout the tracks. It’s the cheeky time signature switches, the reverberating ambient lead notes wafting through groove-focused riffs that signal a startlingly prog-inspired vibe.

Rumours is the second song on the record and its off-kilter drum introduction serves as an apt introduction to the new direction. We see less focus on fist-to-the-face breakdown violence and a shift onto nitty-gritty guitar grooves.

The success in this change lies in the more holistic sound it favours. The band has previously stated this album is about “good songs rather than cool parts”. Tracks War and Transgress illustrate how lead guitar at the hands of Chris Rubey now almost exclusively serves to fill musical vacuums with atmospheric instrumentation. It adds a sense of complexity and eloquence to what would otherwise be typical tracks whilst peppering each with a consistency that ties 8:18 into one cohesive, hearty meal.

The Devil Wears Prada – Home for Grave

That being said, The Devil Wears Prada are still the metalcore band we know and love, and haven’t strayed too far from being heavy as all get-out. Black and Blue boasts both some of the heaviest verses on the record and easily the catchiest chorus. It’s both heartfelt and heart-attack-inducing in one of the tightest, most polished tracks we’ve heard from the outfit.

Vocally, both frontman/screamer Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster have upped their game alongside the band’s increasingly dynamic productions. Mike goes to great lengths to diversify his once deathcore-esque screeches. Vocal ramping and yells make more frequent appearences – a style rising to prominence in the modern hardcore scene by way of bands such as Liferuiner and Being As An Ocean. DePoyster, on the other hand, proves himself capable of pulling off the melodic belting core of modern prog. It truly is a pleasure to hear two of the most respected vocalists in the genre continuing to expand upon their already impressive skill sets.

Fans of the aforementioned Liferuiner and Being As An Ocean may appreciate the title track 8:18 more than Prada fans themselves. The chorus-less creation is pure melancholy chordage and emotion, without the aggression of other tracks. If nothing else, it is one of the most interesting, ear-catching pieces TDWP has crafted thus far. Care More is in a similar vein; more Nine Inch Nails than Northlane.

8:18 is the most distinctly un-TDWP release from the band yet, but this should be taken as a positive, and an indication of the band’s musical prowess. If you loved them before, you’ll still love them now, and if you’ve grown a little weary of the standard metalcore formula, you might love this record even more.

‘8:18’ is released in Australia this Friday, 13th September.

The Devil Wears Prada – First Sight