ARTIST: THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
TITLE: THE ACT
LABEL: SOLID STATE RECORDS
WORDS: JAMES HOLDER
You’d be forgiven for thinking that after a near 15 years in the game The Devil Wears Prada would have plateaued and hit that creatively comfortable place in their careers. However, on this evidence that couldn’t be further from the truth. Album number seven ‘The Act’ finds Dayton Ohio’s favourite Metalcore band pushing their creative boundaries further than ever. This isn’t just your usual Metalcore record, so any preconceptions you may have had about this album needed to be thrown in the nearest bin.
Having said all of that, things start off in pretty standard fashion with the rip roaring ‘Switchblade.’ Over a series of chaotic and frantic riffs frontman Mike Hranica delivers an equally frantic vocal, through a series of screams, growls and just about everything in between. However, it’s not long until convention pretty much goes out of the window.
“This isn’t just your usual Metalcore record, so any preconceptions you may have had about this album needed to be thrown in the nearest bin.”
From here on out the band create and master (mostly) a series of ever more sparse and challenging soundscapes. Many of the tracks which follow the opener are much more stripped back and almost cinematic. We are treated to the full vocal repertoire from Hranica as he takes a softer and smoother approach on tracks like ‘Chemical.’ Each song feels a little different to the one that went before it, and the result is a body of work in which it feels like the band have really tried to extend themselves artistically. Lead single ‘Lines Of Your Hands’ is a particular highlight while ‘Please Say No’ feels much more cinematic and almost theatrical with it’s lyrics based on a scene novel ‘Never Come Morning’ by Nelson Algren. It’s a track Hranica describes as the bands “Moodiest effort on The Act.”
That’s not to say that the band have gone soft; far from it. ‘The Thread’ which is nestled firmly in amongst all these vast soundscapes and piano lead intros, is absolutely brutal. If you’ve ever wondered what Armageddon might sound like, then wonder no more. There have been suggestions that the album favours a calmer style and that the band have gone soft. With this track they destroy that notion one desperate and ear-splitting scream at a time.
“‘The Act’ demonstrates that far from becoming stale and predictable, The Devil Wears Prada are more interesting, more creative and much more rounded musically than ever before”
‘Isn’t It Strange’ is the only real let down on the album, as much like the Emo kid in P.E it does nothing but stand there looking moody. While the pacing could have also been improved somewhat. Much of the middle third of the album is very one paced, meaning that it can feel like it turns into a bit of a slog. The songs individually are brilliant, but an injection of something a bit quicker occasionally would have helped the album’s flow a great deal. Although ‘As Kids,’ ‘Even Though,’ and ‘Spiderhead’ ensure a strong finish.
The band have openly admitted that they have tried to create something outside the box and something different with this record and they have achieved that brief in fine style. Structurally and sonically the record goes to places you wouldn’t expect. And yes, even showcasing a softer, more wistful side. Above all, ‘The Act’ demonstrates that far from becoming stale and predictable, The Devil Wears Prada are more interesting, more creative and much more rounded musically than ever before, and that’s not only a good thing for them, but Metalcore and heavy music as a whole.