‘The Act’ album review
album: The Act
artist: The Devil Wears Prada
release date: October 11, 2019
star rating: four out of five
review by Joshua Maine
The Act is The Devil Wears Prada’s seventh full-length album. This is the band’s first release on the Solid State Records label, a label I think they will fit in very well with. The Act is written and produced by keyboardist Jon Gering, with lyrical help from guitarist Kyle Sipress.
My expectations were subverted while reviewing this album – but in a good way. I assumed TDWP was still pumping out familiar sounds of the grindy, hard-vocal metalcore that I used to love. The Act is a step in a new direction for the band and does not confine itself to a single style nor the previous metalcore mold. Many metal bands fail to evolve their sound over time, and some fail to pull it off when they do so. I think they have pulled it off well here. Most of the songs on this album lean toward the softer side. The young metal fan I used to be would’ve probably disliked this. I would’ve been upset that the band is not as “brutal” sounding as they used to be, but it’s been a decade since then. My tastes have changed; I’ve broadened my musical scope since their 2009 album With Roots Above and Branches Below, and the new TDWP is very appealing to me now. To say the aforementioned songs are soft is a bit of an oversimplification, though. Along with the softer tone, lies inspiration from their metalcore roots, with breakdowns in almost every song and constantly changing song structure. The balance between the soft vocals of Jeremy DePoyster and hardcore breakdowns with the singing screams of Mike Hranica is a perfect blend.
There isn’t really any central theme or overarching narrative in this album. All of the songs come through with lots of emotion and moody themes. A few of my favorite songs of the album are “Numb,” “Chemical,” and “Please Say No.” “Numb” features very atmospheric and gloomy guitars and is a great example of the variety in structure. “Chemical” almost reaches a point of sounding radio-friendly, which I feel like will straight-up offend some longtime fans who aren’t ready for such a change. The song does a good job of capturing the feeling of a struggle with addiction, though. “Please Say No” is easily the moodiest song of the album and one of the most experimental at that. The lyrics are very enigmatic, and Mike Hranica said in an interview they are based on a novel called “Never Come Morning” by Nelson Algren, which just adds a whole layer of depth that I love.
Overall, I think this album will split some people. There is a lot of variety here, and a couple songs, such as “Spiderhead,” nod to TDWP’s heavier past. The change is welcomed in my opinion, and the album grew on me the more I listened. It’s good to see a band that I loved as a teenager is still around and creating great music that isn’t afraid to try a new approach. Give it a chance, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.