For Fans Of
Scene debates and critiques of the bands faith aside, Ohio six-piece The Devil Wears Prada know how to make a solid album. Studio release number three entitled ‘With Roots Above and Branches Below’ is as much a statement about the bands intent to push towards a heavier sound as it is about showcasing the groups steady ascension as one of metalcore’s premier acts.
Whilst the bands earlier attempts were largely boring, generic and watered down metalcore (and that is putting it nicely), ‘With Roots Above and Branches Below’ is surprisingly strong.
Like a bullet through glass, opening track ‘Sassafras’ asserts a strong level of brutality. Breakdowns are certainly cliché these days and it takes courage to play one fifteen seconds into an album. However, The Devil Wears Prada do – and do it well, it is worth mentioning.
Lead Singer Mike Hranica gives his vocal chords a good beating on tracks such as ‘I Hate Buffering’ and ‘Ben Has a Kid’, which combine steady double kick work with the melodic hooks of rhythm guitarist Jeremy DePoyster.
Like most metalcore artists, TDWP are sure to polarise listeners. Emo kids trying their hand at Bleeding Through-esque riffs? Or rather, a reflection of the next generation of metal heads? Either way, TDWP play music that is aurally engaging.
Fast and intense songs like ‘Wapakalypse’ that merge hardcore guitar lines with clean choruses are tempered by the slower tempo tracks in the form of ‘Louder than Thunder’. In addition, you have to enjoy the Office reference apparent in the title of ‘Assistant to the Regional Manager’.
As a general comment about the prevalence of Christian metal, it is ironic that these bands are providing us with some of the best contemporary highlights in heavy music i.e. As I Lay Dying and August Burns Red. To paraphrase a line from South Park, ‘if irony was made of strawberries we’d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now’.
When vocalist Mike Hranica screams ‘our message will grow’, perhaps his sentiments are as prophetic as they are poignant. With Roots Above and Branches Below is a step in the right direction. Enjoyable, yes. Groundbreaking, no. But then again, unless you are Between the Buried and Me or Mastodon who can rightly stake claims to that notion.
- I Hate Buffering
- Assistant to the Regional Manager
- Dez Moines
- Big Wiggy Style
- Danger: Wildman
- Ben Has a Kid
- Gimme Half
- Louder Than Thunder
- Lord Xenu