The Devil Wears Prada is a band that has been on the metal scene since 2005. Hailing from Ohio, they’ve managed to branch out and make a name for themselves outside of the US and have gained a solid, loyal fan base. Style-wise they tick all the boxes required to be described as a metal core band. They are releasing a live DVD entitled: Dead and Alive. Honestly speaking I was slightly apprehensive about what I would make of this DVD and went into it a bit skeptical and the front man’s questionable choice in shorts didn’t make this skepticism any better. However, I feel that this DVD proves a point and will put a few people in their place (probably myself included). The point it proves is that although this style of metal has been criticised as not being ‘true’ or ‘real’ metal and it has sometimes been ridiculed based on the assumption that it is all about style over substance; this is clearly not the case for the Devil Wears Prada. The problem does arise with these bands and this is that these genres are relatively new and they are not a continuation of the old style of metal we are all accustomed to and in turn it might be hard for the average Death or Lamb of God fan etc(me again), to relate to this music. Although a lot of these bands are carbon copies of each other and there is definitely a certain tone of ‘who can wear the skinnier jeans’, with The Devil Wears Prada, they’ve proved that there is a significant audience for their material and that they are unapologetically different from the masses and they aren’t prepared to be just like the rest.
We are first introduced to the band in the backstage area and it cuts from them hugging it out backstage – illustrating camaraderie that we all love to see between band mates of our favourite bands and the black of the crowd outside. If you were looking for and Ike and Tina between this band, maybe stick to a DVD of Mayhem playing in Euronymous’ shed…too soon? The anticipation of the crowd is palpable and the excitement erupts even before they hit the stage with crowd surfers galore (spoiler alert).
The band has a great on stage physicality and they utilise their space constantly, there are very few instances when any member are motionless. The lighting and way of the film is shot is chaotic and disorientating, close to what you would experience being at a live show, so the experience of seeing the band live translates over DVD. For a full hour there are non-stop breakdowns in each and every song, with the odd solo giving them some added melodic depth. However, there isn’t really enough differentiation in their guitar tone and with all the constant breakdowns; it can often be a little mundane and hard to tell one song from the other. Now, in saying that the songs are hard to tell apart, there are still some like Vengeance that demonstrate the band do have diversity in their music. That running chainsaw effect and tumbling effect (for lack of a better word) that vengeance contains is a great presentation of their skills. They also had an instrumental part to their live set which was really impressive and really showed that there can be another dimension to this band and their music and it leaves you wanting that much more of them. I’m still on the fence about the quantity of breakdowns, I understand they create that heavy sound but with them constantly featuring it makes everything repetitive and it takes away variety because it causes a lot of the songs to sound the same – it is probably my own ignorance that makes it hard for me to tell the tracks apart.
The Drummer without a doubt creates a strong foundation for the band as a whole. In my opinion he is one of the main attractions. The drumming is really the feature that captures you attention and at times the skill and precision that Daniel Williams plays with would make you question if the rest of the band can stand up to his talent. Without a doubt he is a beast behind the kit and plays with an unrelenting ferocity and live he plays a tight, flawless set.
The Vocals of Mike Hranica are hard to fault; live he gives a great performance. There is little let up from him throughout the set and if you’re a Devil Wears Prada fan and you’ve never seen them live, you will not be disappointed with his committed performance. It’s always a source of great happiness when you realise your front man can deliver the goods both on CD and live – good times. The only thing I would point out and it’s probably not even worth mention but there are times when he seems slightly breathless but then again if you’re running around like a mad man on stage and giving it everything, that’s bound to happen. Live shows are when it matters and whatever happens during a set a band will always need a leader and Mike is just that. Now, if you’re looking for a lot of interaction with the crowd you may not get much – there will be no on stage raffle before the encore, people. All that aside there is a great sense of unity between the band and the crowd. The clean vocals of Jeremy De Poyster did not do it for me I’m afraid. They don’t come across as strong as one would like leaving me to doubt whether or not they’re necessary. I generally don’t like clean vocals but I think that they probably sound better recorded than live which is pointless. In contrast to Hranica’s strong screams, the clean vocals are a bit of an anticlimax.
These guys are as I said before, unapologetically different and they aren’t afraid to vocalise what they believe but at the same time they aren’t here to ram it down our throats either. Although a number of bands in their genre can sometimes reasonably be accused of all sounding the same, that seems to be something that this band are not happy to accept and really try to carve out their own niche in this crowded metal scene. Although they do have their shortcomings much like every band, their live set is difficult to fault as a whole. Seeing them live appears to be a great experience, judging by their stage set-up which is pretty striking, their performance and not to mention the crowd’s reaction to them. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a big audience for The Devil Wears Prada and this audience will only grow in numbers. There is virtually nothing filmed of the band off stage which might be disappointing for fans who want to see interviews or how the band members conduct themselves on a daily basis, it’s all about the live concert. Seeing the band members like this can sometimes kill the whole experience. So, perhaps it is best viewers just see the band perform because sometimes its best not to know whether or not your favourite band demanded a nap room or for twelve thousand brown M&Ms all in the shape of Whoopi Goldberg’s head – some things are best left unanswered. All in All the DVD gives a great sample of the guys live and if you’re a fan it will get you excited about seeing them live. There is nothing pretentious about these guys, they’re in it for the music as the Dead and Alive DVD conveys. Also, Mike’s shorts grew on me towards the end. The visual quality is great. Given that the set-up on stage in regards to the lighting ,which is at times a little mesmirizing, its difficult not to be drawn in to the whole experience. Audio is pretty faultless so it isn’t going to be an endurance test for the ears and everything sounds well articulated and clear. Essentially you get the live experience with less of the ‘what’s happening ?’ ‘what did he say?’ and ‘Why is that guy bleeding?’ Overall I would give The Devil Wears Prada’s new live DVD, Dead and Alive a mark of 6.5/10.
Tracklist (DVD and CD)
1. Dead Throne
5. Born To Lose
8. Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?
11. Assistant to the Regional Manager
12. Dez Moines
13. Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over