It’s not often these days you hear an album that totally blows you away. With almost every release these days I find my subconscious almost prepares me for the fact that on any given release, there may be a track or two that truly sticks out, but the rest will be the same old dribble churned out over and over. So, upon hearing The Act by The Devil Wears Prada my brain went into overdrive and it felt as if all my senses were somehow connecting as one…as if my sense of touch could somehow feel the music. Quite the analogy I know, but what I’m simply trying to say is what I kind of stated in the opening sentence; this album BLEW ME AWAY! First off this is something never done before by The Devil Wears Prada. Vocalist Mike Hranica was quoted as saying ‘We wanted to do something that actually tests the boundaries…to catch people off guard…’, well let me tell ya; it’s done that in spades. The group has never been afraid to make little tweaks and fine tunings to their overall sound as to not become stale or repeat something they’ve previously done. With 2016’s Transit Blues, we saw The Devil Wears Prada begin what may have set them on the path to what they’ve become now, but with The Act the band has performed an entire 180 sonically, and has flipped the world of metalcore on its head. One of the greatest things about the album though, is that it still retains a healthy mix of both new and old TDWP. There certainly are some heavy hitters to assault the circle pit with, and yet it’s the more subtle and simpler songs that are the true standouts. Admittedly, attempting to look at the record as unbiased as possible, I can understand why this may be a touch difficult to digest for some. But that was almost part of the point for the group. They wanted to send your head for a bit of a spin. But once all comes into focus, you should be able to see that this is their most artistically dynamic album yet.
From start to finish of The Act there was not one single millisecond of disconnect. Each track fell fluidly into the next, and it all made sense. Even though there was no direct relation thematically between the songs, the band stated that the album title was the overall connection and when thought about pragmatically that makes complete sense. One of the fantastic things about any given song on The Act is that most of them don’t follow the standard formula of pattern (i.e. intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown, chorus, outro). In fact, some of the songs are all over the map with their direction, and yet its actually this point that helps them feel as if they have an even more natural flow. Take the most recent single “Chemical” for instance; just as the moment of the buildup before the second chorus kicks in, they instead switch it up to a bridge. Now I know that isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s these little details that add up, and help to create something out of the norm. Even as I write this review, I’m brought back to something Mike Hranica said in the interview I previously spoke of, and that was that the title can mean literally anything. It could be a violent act, a sexual act, even an act of kindness (not what he said verbatim), and when you truly think about that, the overall flow of the album works even more succinctly.
It’s funny you know. I could probably prattle on for hours as to why I think this album will be a mainstay not only on my re-spin list for years to come, but why I feel it could be (if not should be) on others as well. But I’ll simply say this; IT BLEW ME AWAY!! But, more on that…the reasons it totally knocked my socks off seem infinite, but for one I really do feel this is their most creative and bold album yet. They took some major risks, but they meant to, and to me there’s twelve reasons why it paid off. They achieved their goal, because this definitely wasn’t what I was expecting from a band like The Devil Wears Prada. I must admit there was a track or two that initially threw me off, and yet now I can’t get enough of any of them. “Diamond Lost” was absolutely an example of that. The song is almost a creepy, theatrical sounding diddy that could have come from the likes of Landon Tewers on his 2016 album Dynamite (I mean come on…that album was pretty creepy and theatrical overall. Tewers does have a flare for that). The chorus itself is quite odd. Vocals set over a simple and subtle bassline, the sound of rhythmic clapping, then towards the end a few ominous guitar notes to round it all off. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all initially, and yet now it’s one of my favorite tracks on the entire album. So much of it stands out in that way to me, which helps to ensure it will be pumping through my speakers for many a year to come.
Is this something fairly damn original, not just for The Devil Wears Prada, but as whole? I’d sure as hell say so. Especially in the core world. What truly makes it so imaginative and inventive is that in a world where so many groups are daring to try something new, it’s rare that they pull it off so seamlessly and wondrously. The absolute presence of sheer desolation, dejection, and drama that seems to lurk around and the fill the very room your sitting in when simply listening to “Please Say No” is something other bands have tried as late with similar sounding songs, but failed to hit the mark in a way that the other songs felt forced. It’s hard to fully put a pin in what genres they compiled to come up with the song “Numb”, yet somehow it all fits together so perfectly. It begins with haunting tones and almost odd notes on an acoustic guitar, which then progresses into a clean electric guitar with clean vocals to match, but once this almost upbeat intro has come to its end, an onslaught of heavily palm muted guitars and bass swing in with hard pounding drumming to match. There really isn’t too much out there these days that sounds much at all like The Act so yea, I’d say they pulled off the originality aspect quite well.
Stream “Chemical” – http://tdwp.ffm.to/chemical Pre-order / pre-save THE ACT, out 10.11 – http://tdwp.ffm.to/chemical __ WAKING UP TO NO MEANING I STARE AT THE CEILING. COUNT THE IMPERFECTIONS THAT SURROUND MY BEING, CAN TELL HOW I’M FEELING, AND IT HURTS MORE WHEN YOU ASK.
VOCALS / INSTRUMENTATION
The vocals have always been something that helped The Devil Wears Prada stand out amongst their peers. There really isn’t too many a singer that even come close to the snarls and growls that come from lead vocalist Mike Hranica. To call his voice unique would be putting it beyond lightly. His higher pitch screams especially. And his lower toned screams still do make some appearances, namely on the heavier tunes “Switchblade” and “The Thread”. The latter of which is a sludgy, slow-paced, demon of vehemence. Both tracks though will be favorites of the TDWP fans who call their favorite albums amongst the Dead Throne or 8:18. Jeremy DePoyster as per usual adds the perfect softer harmony to the harsh wails of Hrancia. It almost seems though that his honed and harnessed his incredible abilities more than ever though on The Act as his range has never been more impressive.
It would be a far cry to call the instrumentation on The Act complex or incredibly intricate. But again, that was exactly what the band was going for. It’s the simplicity and pure nature of the instrumentation that makes it actually feel so incredibly textured and layered sonically. Keyboardist Jon Gering is the true standout of The Act though, as one could only assume, we owe thanks to him for the incredible atmospheric and ominous touches that have taken a front row seat in comparison to past The Devil Wears Prada albums. A prime example of this comes with “Isn’t It Strange”. The song begins with what sounds like incredibly grungy and metallic synthesizers, then the verse and chorus are mainly piano driven which work so incredibly well. The song truly is strange, and yet so beautiful.
COMPOSITION / PRODUCTION
One thing you’ll read over and over in any interview about the upcoming album, the band states how much they wished and set out to really attempt something incredibly outlandish and break down any supposed boundaries. Regardless of how you feel about the overall sound of the album, the fact that they accomplished what they wanted in spades cannot be denied. So considering that the sound is so immensely different from anything the group has done before, one could imagine the writing process both instrumentally and lyrically must have taken a different path as well. On both fronts this listener feels they absolutely hit the nail on the head. This is the album I didn’t even know I had been waiting for and furthermore, I had no idea it was to come from The Devil Wears Prada. And I firmly believe that has almost everything to do with their writing process and what was produced from it.
Not to beat a dead horse even beyond the actual point of death, but the production was just one more thing I felt they killed. The album was actually produced by keyboardist Jon Gering and you can tell he has a knack for this sort of thing. Perhaps it’s with the fact of what he plays that he has a closer knowledge of what was set before him, because it feels as if it came naturally. It seems as if every single sound, nuance, and element he wanted the listener to pick up on was right there for us to hear all along.
Stream The Devil Wears Prada – ‘Please Say No’ :: http://tdwp.ffm.to/sayno Pre-order THE ACT, out 10.11 :: https://tdwp.ffm.to/theact ___ Foot by foot down the stairs. No tinge of twilight between the floorboards. One man followed by another – deep south, beneath, under. Slowly entering the cellar. Please say no.
I really don’t care how many times I’ve said it. This was thee The Devil Wears Prada album I had always wanted. That isn’t to say I didn’t love past releases, but this is just something incredibly special. They’ve taken everything we’ve known about rock and metalcore, through it in an icing bowl, then a blender, and then somehow continued to play with the ingredients until they manifested The Act. The darkness has not been left behind; it just rears its nasty little head in different ways. Although there are the heavy tracks still to rattle your walls, it tends to show itself through the lyrics and haunting elements which have not been heard from the band before. The Devil Wears Prada have been stated as saying this album is a ‘make or break’ for the group. Well, if this doesn’t make the world see what else this group and genre are capable of then I don’t know what will.