It can be hard, especially in the metalcore scene to constantly innovate and progress while still keeping the fan-base engaged, album after album. While the approach varies from outfit to outfit, some bands opt for a more progressive or experimental routine while others nearly shift genres, creating albums on’t necessarily reflect who they were at one point. This puts these artists in very precarious situations — risk it all in hopes that the loyal, from the beginning fans stick with them or vye for a new group of people interested in those particular sounds. After 5 studio albums, one would think metalcore outfit and genre staple The Devil Wears Prada would be in this same situation with their 6th record, Transit Blues. Fortunately for old and new fans alike, that isn’t the case as the group delivers an immense and carefully crafted album that not only is rooted in what made them who they are today, but shows progress in sound keeping them relevant in the modern age of music.
The Devil Wears Prada had built high expectations with the release of their Space EP, which is why when it comes to the actual creation and release of Transit Blues, there was a large amount of uncertainty. Long time drummer Daniel Williams had departed from the band and it is also the first full-length release with new guitarist Kyle Sipress. That uncertainty can be pushed to the side as they absolutely do not disappoint with Transit Blues, which incorporates many of the successful elements from their last EP, mixed in with their signature sound, resulting in a truly great record. Frontman Mike Hranica impresses yet again as well with massive diversity in range and a willingness to step outside his comfort zone. Ranging from shrieking highs to hard hitting lows, Hranica consistently shows why he is still one of the premier vocalists of the metalcore scene. There are points where he even tip toes spoken word territory on the track “Home for Grave, Pt. II” which helps craft an emotional ambiance that isn’t often seen in previous releases. Singer Jeremy DePoyster vocals have vastly improved as well, which provide a beautiful compliment to the harsh screams while simultaneously bringing the band in a more eerie, ambient direction.
Sonically, The Devil Wears Prada has never come across crisper or sounding as refined and polished as they do on Transit Blues. They swing back and forth between crushing and heavy guitar riffs and beautifully melodic setpieces. Tracks like “Flyover States” and “The Condition” are more emotional, ambient driven songs that show off a different side of the band while “Lock and Load” is a venom filled, blistering track dealing with the hot button issue of gun control. The riffs throughout the album are bouncy, unrelenting and showcase some of The Devil Wears Prada’s best guitar work to date. Only adding to the albums value is the tight knit production by Dan Korneff (A Day to Remember, Pierce the Veil). The guitar tones are crisp and heavy while Korneff does an impressive job blending everything together, without the final product sounding overproduced or congested.
Transit Blues only further cements the bands standing as one of leaders of metalcore and is a testament to the bands innovation and immense talent. The Devil Wears Prada continue to refine and change their sound, this time writing one of their most emotionally driven, diverse records to date. Whether it’s the unrelenting heaviness that fans have come to expect or the beautiful and eerie ambiance, Transit Blues shows that a band can be innovative while staying true to their heavy roots. The end result is a record that will be a prominent display of what the genre can output for years to come without giving up their inherent sound to a different realm — and that is something this scene direly needed.