The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada // The Act
Released: October 11, 2019
Genre: Metalcore, Metal
For fans of: Underoath, Oh Sleeper, Greeley Estates
Is it good? It’s their most dynamic, exciting material since ‘Dead Throne’.
Let me start off by emphasizing that ‘The Act’ is a phenomenal album. It’s a massive departure from The Devil Wears Prada’s previous sound but it fits them perfectly. It’s the inevitable end-state of the sound they’ve been developing over the last decade, and they couldn’t have grown into it any better.
In recent years the members have been vocal about not liking their earlier albums and it wasn’t clear what they wanted to do moving forward. I always expect the worst when bands try to reinvent themselves, but TDWP has risen to the occasion, creating their first album that has truly excited me since ‘Dead Throne’.
It’s no secret that Mike Hranica’s vocal abilities have declined over the years. He’s great at what he can do, but he’s long past the days where he could properly pull off their early material. ‘The Act’s success comes from the band finally embracing those limits. I don’t disagree with the approach they took on ‘Transit Blues’, but they structured the instrumentals on ‘The Act’ around Mike’s vocals much better. The slower, methodical approach to the instruments allows his raw, passionate screams to fill the space. Now, when his strained yells are overwhelmed by the barrage of instruments, that feeling of being overtaken is purposeful.
One of the really interesting aspects of the album is that TDWP purposely muddied some of the tracks. Initially it sounds like “Switchblade” wasn’t mixed properly, but once you get a feel for the songs you realize that cloudiness is one of the primary undertones of the album. Similarly, “Isn’t It Strange” has waves of obscured guitars rhythmically pounding over the track. The booming refrain helps build the song until the wave crashes, washing everything away as a stripped down version of the song closes.
‘The Act’ certainly embraces more industrial elements than we are used to hearing from TDWP and in some cases the instruments drone on (this is especially true in “Isn’t It Strange”). It adds to the fuzzy darkness that emerges throughout the album, almost like there’s static in the songs that the band is trying to break through. Luckily for TDWP, Jeremy DePoyster’s cleans cut through the hazy climate, illuminating the way forward. This is easily DePoyster’s best performance to date and his ability to temper Mike’s throes of passion is noteworthy. Tracks like “Lines of Your Hands” and “Please Say No” feature great complimentary sections as they pull in two different directions.
“Chemical” and “Wave of Youth” are both new territory for TDWP and although they’re both outstanding, I’ll close with “The Thread”. When it started I thought I was listening to a song off the Zombie EP. It quickly switched back to the new style and I felt foolish for momentarily getting my hopes up, which is why I was doubly pleased by the breakdown at the end. It was a nice throwback to their old sound while still fitting the style they cultivated on ‘The Act’. It was a reminder that a little part of the old TDWP is still alive and that this is indeed the same band that I listened to in middle school.