Album Review: THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA 8:18
As far as metalcore goes, The Devil Wears Prada always got the nuances and specifics right. A healthy balance of clean and screamed vocals, heavy and melodic riffs, and rhythms to breakdowns have always been a part of their writing. I feel that lately, metalcore is starting to drift from fast and bright to slow and dark, almost as if the genre is growing up a little bit along with the fans. If you’ve followed The Devil Wears Prada for years, like I have, you can definitely hear that shift in their writing. And it’s none more evident than in 8:18.
If you liked the Zombie EP or Dead Throne, 8:18 is going to be exactly for you. The opening track “Gloom” is dark, driving, and has the right amount of atmosphere. This is also the band’s first album without founding keyboardist James Baney, and they haven’t found a new full-time keyboardist yet, but you might not be able to tell right away since a lot of the synth-y and other textures still feel very true to the band’s style. It shows especially in tracks like “Black & Blue” where those textures take charge and set the tone for another great track. Other tracks like “8:18”, and “Care More” are heavily textured as well but again, feels so true to their style. No disrespect to Baney at all, but I really can’t tell the difference. It’s still a metalcore album though, and heavier tracks like “Martyrs” and “Number Eleven” with more double-bass and double-picking don’t let you forget that.
A minor nitpick that I do have to make is a slight change in Mike Hranica’s screaming. Other fans that have heard these tracks already noted this as well. He’s been criticized for losing his touch and sounding a lot weaker and perhaps even a little whiney. If you’ve been listening to them for a while, then you can pretty much hear right away what they mean. I’ve personally always thought the peak of Hranica’s vocals were in the 2007 release, Plagues; like in the song “Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?”. Those were some of the most intense screams I have ever heard in metalcore, mostly in the breakdown.
And it’s been 6 years since that release, so I would expect a little bit of change in his voice, especially after years of consistent touring. But in studio updates from the band, leading up to 8:18, it’s been stated that the screams were to take a more raw approach with less production; similar to their live shows. Whether you take it as an excuse, or an interesting new direction, it at least explains it. It’s not like it takes a whole lot away from the entire experience of 8:18, nor are the screams bad in general, but it is something to note for the longtime fans.
To be honest, The Devil Wears Prada has released better albums, but 8:18 is still pretty excellent. Fans of the band and fans of metalcore alike would really enjoy this album. It pretty much does everything right as well as stretch the band’s horizons a little bit further. With albums like this, they’re clearly still going strong. And it’s great to hear a band like them continue to try new things and still put out great albums.