Review || The Devil Wears Prada - "The Act"

The Devil Wears Prada is releasing their new full length album, "The Act", on October 11th 2019 via Solid State Records. My relationship with them started almost ten years ago. I may not have followed them closely all the time, but I would often return to them. They never went away. The infamous underdogs of their scene, the band that had every potential to build full momentum and break, not just big but huge, like some of their label mates did, but they never seemed to have the support to do so, like some of their label mates did, or got into drama for exposure or to remain relevant. Things changed along the way; the industry, the trends, the crowd, their sound. Eventually, I think that TDWP, along with a few more "Rise-core" bands, grew to a status where their work was consistent no matter what, with more and more fine tuning every time, and they outgrew the wave of metalcore that made them renown.

Let's establish something before I begin. "The Act" will not appeal to everyone, and it's normal. The album experiments in a fairly new territory with elements that made a shy appearance on 2016's "Transit Blues" but which have since then solidified the band's desire to further push the boundaries of their sound. There is melody in there ("Numb", "As Kids"), there are major feelings triggered ("Isn't It Strange_", "Wave Of Youth"), resonating clean vocals ("Lines Of Your Hands", "Chemical") and exasperation ("Please Say No", "Even Though")There is a heavy post-hardcore shadow over this ambitious effort, which fights the inevitable growth and maturity that comes with age and experience, for domination.

Consisting of 12 tracks, the album immediately sports stark contrasts. The first song, "Switchblade", serves as a sort of throwback bone to get older fans' attention before the chilling single "Lines Of Your Hands" makes the transition towards a more well rounded, ample sound. From that point on, there is a shift of balance; the intensity is gradually built almost exclusively on the duality of the vocals while the instrumentation creates a fascinating landscape underneath, where the bold outbursts are calculated to match those of the agonizing expression of the vocal lines.The very chagrined outcome resembles a simplified, more stripped down metalcore, although some technical nuances are still present. The compositions are more often than not terse, as if the band tried to keep the primary focus on the lyrics and vocal performance, and set the music in an accompanying role. It is true that this new pattern takes a while to get used to; however, being a sucker for evocative music, I let the abundance of emotions overwhelm me, as Mike Hranica spits his wrenching lines and Jeremy DePoyster crushes what's left of my psyche. 

In all honesty, if someone told my younger self when she bought "With Roots Above..." (which I still fervently consider a seminal metalcore album), that not only would The Devil Wears Prada evolve so formidably, but also that I would come to embrace this change, I would have laughed at your face. "The Act" is a brilliant record, hitting all the soft spots of the listener through all the experimentation, all while preserving an authenticity at its core. Sure, some very old fans may find it alienating and quite rightly if you ask me. Factually, I don't expect The Devil Wears Prada to suddenly gain the popularity they have deserved for the past decade or so, but I most certainly believe that "The Act" is worth your time.

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