For Fans Of
The Devil Wears Prada is living proof that change can sometimes be a good thing. In its infancy, the band was as generic, derivative and bland as they come. Their sound favoured a screamo/hardcore crossover tinged with breakdowns and subtle metal variances – it was a script followed by so many that the end was predictable well before musical introductions had even commenced.
Fast forward to 2009 though and the band dropped an album (‘With Roots Above and Branches Below’) that was as impressive as it was surprising and well rounded. Haters can hate (and up until then they had every reason to) but even the harshest of music judges could see that the band had altered their sound for the better.
Intermittent debut EP release ‘Zombie’, proves that the aforementioned predecessor studio album was not a fluke or ‘flash in the pan’ release. Furthermore, this new offering highlights the group’s likening for a heavier sound.
Front man Mike Hranica’s suggestion that ‘Zombie’ is intended as a bit of fun but with brutal songs appears an apt summation in more ways than one. What is clear upon first listen is that The Devil Wears Prada have confidence and are not burdened by internal or external pressure. It is this carefree yet deliberate approach that gives the EP a clear tone, not coming off as muddled or overly complicated in the process.
Opener, ‘Escape’ begins with an atmospheric nature sample before launching into a deep, menacing passage. Each subsequent song follows a similar style with middle track ‘Outnumbered’ arguably the best point of the EP, with its hard edged and consistent delivery. ‘Revive’ receives a similar treatment to those songs featured on ‘With Roots Above…’ mixing the odd breakdown, down tuned sections and sing/scream vocals.
It is refreshing to see a band gradually improving against a backdrop of deterioration that has seen many likeminded groups, who rode the coattails of metalcore’s success in the ‘noughties’ slowly going down hill.
However, just because this album is labelled ‘heavy’ does not mean this is the best embodiment of ‘heavy metal’. We’ll leave that to the new Soilwork and upcoming The Red Shore albums. Nevertheless, this should not detract from ‘Zombie’s’ impact. If the band’s next studio release sounds anything like this then the signs look good. If a category exists for EP of the year, this one would certainly rank highly within.
The word ‘niche’ is thrown around a lot. In this specific instance, it is the most fitting of words. The Devil Wears Prada has found a sound that works. There have been some poor results early on but the band has clearly adopted a musical framework that yields results. Now it is just a matter of continuing and solidifying it.