*This post was originally published in The Aquarian Weekly
First impressions are important. But you don’t want to judge a book by its cover—or do you? It’s not a bad thing to take a first pass with an act that’s straightforward, has no gimmick, and leaves the smoke and mirrors to the amateurs.
The Devil Wears Prada—a five-piece metalcore band that fuses melody with metal—released their fifth album, 8:18, earlier in the fall. The album title speaks volumes to the record’s theme of the biblical book of Romans reference, centered on present suffering and future hope to come, or celebrating a light at the end of the tunnel.
8:18’s theme is viable lyrically, but also systemically. The tracks each possess unique progressive musical elements. Even the volume of the songs teeter-totter. The songs are raw, heart-on-your-sleeve status material—the stuff that poetry is made up of.
The band’s promising talent is endearing in that they’re young, ambitious musicians, but they’re incredibly seasoned and committed to progression. Their attitude and work ethic are refreshing. Each band member has a significant piece invested in the new record, specifically.
Vocalist Mike Hranica says the band’s “formula” is somewhat oxymoronic. “It’s complicated but it’s also very simple,” he notes in an interview at the Roadrunner Records office in New York the morning of the album’s release. “A lot of what I wanted to try to accomplish with every little motif and nuance with the record was to channel all of these different emotions that I had, as well as try to challenge myself as a lyricist. There were so many different elements of trying to better myself, but also trying to take a step back. Given that I’m close to the piece, it’s progressive for me. I think it’s a sort of evolution. This is a turn in the corner for me as far as coming into my own.”
The word “sophisticated” is apt for this group of musicians who fuse together deep, meaningful thematic works that question the status quo. Sitting down in a room with The Devil Wears Prada is an opportunity to rack the brains of honest and earnest musicians who appreciate the value in good friggin’ music.
8:18 is a plethora of metalcore opinion. It’s comprised of jam tracks, rusty riffs, heart haunting screams and synethesized innovation, tied in a traditional metal bow that is the true TDWP staple.
Drummer Daniel Williams notes that he took a more cohesive approach to distilling the drum parts on the album. “I approached this record from an outsider’s perspective,” he says. “I took a step back. On previous records I’ve always thought about that ‘cool’ drum part that would have that extra impact. But sometimes you have to tone it down to make something new and different.”
The instruments—including Hranica’s vocal Range Rover—play a whimsical game of “Ring Around The Rosie.” “Home For The Grave” intertwines boom-tastic bass and complex growls. “Care More” is a prominent showcase of Hranica’s full set of pipes, as well as the widespread bug in the band that induces great grooves.
Bassist Andy Trick says it’s a mutually exclusive chemistry. “We’ve been doing this for eight years. We know how to work together well. We know our strengths and with this record we were able to take some time, go up to Portland, see what comes after two months, pick and choose what we like and work with it to make it the best we could.”
The band is isolatable from others, if only for their attitude about the metalcore movement in general. Guitarist Jeremy DePoyster says they aren’t to be mistaken for disgruntled snobs. But musicianship is key! “We are desperately looking for really good, talented musicians,” he says. “It’s really hard for us to put a tour together. We’re music fans. We want great music to come out. We want to hear great records from people who are passionate about what they do because we’re fans as well. It angers us that this movement is on the back burner. Why would you rob a fanbase of something they’re looking for, too?”
Appropriately titled “Gloom,” the opening track to 8:18 is a daring foray into deep-rooted metal sounds. It sounds like a simple homage to Korn, in that it’s brave and authentic. It stands stoic.
The song “Rumors” ensues anticipation with an upstream guitar—you’re almost waiting for something to shake out. It sounds kind of like a scary ride that your brain is telling you to get off, but your soul can’t stop loving. Vocal adrenaline and eerie musical theatrics drive this album home.
Lead guitarist Chris Rubey, who welcomed a baby girl earlier this year, honed in on his own personal influences on this album, as this was an emotional year for him. “On the last records we’ve had to prove ourselves. On this record, our fans expect something from us, so there’s the added pressure of having to do better than the last one. These songs represent just me for the last couple of years. It takes forever to write a song. Sometimes it takes me four, five, or six months because I have to leave it and come back to it. What I’m listening to is going to influence what I write, and what I write influences what I listen to. It’s been an eventful year.”
If there’s one takeaway from The Devil Wears Prada, it’s that simplicity, at its finest, stands the test of time. Don’t add unnecessary seasoning to an already tasty recipe.
“There’s something so honest when it sounds like guys playing instruments together,” Hranica noted. “When we were mixing the record—it’s not my call as far as the mix, but with certain things, like when we’re trying to work through the drums—when it turned too sampled, I hear that and I don’t see Dan sitting in the room playing the drums. The ability to call that out and find the balance, that element is what I admire most in music.”
The Devil Wears Prada are playing Dec. 14 at The Trocadero, Dec. 15 at the Starland Ballroom and Dec. 17 at the Best Buy Theater. For more information, go to tdwpband.com.