Dayton, Ohio’s The Devil Wears Prada released their fifth studio album, 8:18, on Roadrunner Records. Featuring 43 minutes of modern melodic metalcore, the 13 song disc is titled after a passage from The Bible, Romans 8:18. Fear not, the album won’t alienate a secular audience: it’s too heavy to be lumped into a generic Christian rock category, and doesn’t present itself as preachy.
8:18 has a contemporary production and a very nicely balanced global mix. The balance of the sound isn’t too abrasive – it’s an accessible, less grating experience then some of the ‘hateful screamer’ discs can be. An interesting theme The Devil Wears Prada carries through the entire record is the “eerie keyboard intro”. Most songs feature either an atmospheric, foreboding synth intro or a break within a song featuring the same. While common within atmospheric black metal composition, for example, it’s rare to hear outside of that narrow context and thus represents a genre expansion. A band who can innovate ought to be awarded respect.
Vocals vary between Jeremy DePoyster‘s clean, well-sung type and Mike Hranica‘s more screaming, kind of raw, angry hardcore type. Hranica also makes rare excursions to a deeper, guttural extreme metal style. While the bulk of the vocal work is the modern, hardcore, emotive-screaming style, there are plenty of breaks or counterpoints to other textures. Most metal releases are guitar-forward, meaning the guitar is the featured instrument, presented to it’s fullest. As the metalcore genre is both accessible and popular, on 8:18, drums and keyboards are the key instruments that differentiate it from a vast sea of sameness. Daniel Williams‘s syncopation, tempo choices, and accents really bring tunes like “Rumors” and “First Sight” to life. Cinematic layering, effect choice, and orchestration from the keys of Jonathan Gering add special interest to “Gloom”, “Black & Blue”, and “Number Eleven”, among others. Guitar and bass are not buried. Most of the songs are downtuned, chunky, and crunchy. Downtuned, distorted material can bury a bassist, but 8:18‘s mix is competent enough to allow Andy Trick to remain audible. Check out those fun bass slides in “Number Eleven”. As Chris Rubey‘s final studio appearance for The Devil Wears Prada, the riffs sound articulated, well-performed, and carry the tunes forward nicely. Check out the crunch in “Rumors”, the straight-ahead groove in “In Heart”, and the articulation in “Sailor’s Prayer”. The overall tone and timbre of the songs is darker and emotional, mostly ever so slightly melancholy.
Most tunes are set at a moderate pace: they’re not out to ‘break’ a listener. Some progressive and “djent” elements, coupled with very thoughtful idea cohesions, ought to pique the interest of even the ‘muso’ listeners. Produced by Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, 8:18 debuted at #6 on the US hard rock charts, so The Devil Wears Prada did something right. Fans of the genre and of the band will probably really enjoy this.
Black & Blue
Home for Grave
Mike Hranica – lead vocals, additional guitars
Chris Rubey – lead guitar
Jeremy DePoyster – clean vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
Andy Trick – bass guitar
Jonathan Gering – keyboards, synth
Daniel Williams – drums