Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dead Throne Elevates The Devil Wears Prada To A New Level

There must have been something in the water last year when The Devil Wears Prada recorded their Zombie EP. It’s as if someone or something took control of the band and steered them in a direction that was unfamiliar territory for them. The music and songwriting was taken to another level and the fans were caught off guard, but in a good way. It also left fans wondering if this was just an experimental phase because of the EP or was this something wet their appetites as they awaited the new album.

Well, the wait is over and it is proving to me well worth it. The band just recently released their fourth studio album entitled Dead Throne with very favorable results from both critics and fans. The band is sounded more focused and heavier than ever. The songs on the album, for the most part, were written by guitarist Chris Rubey. Maybe having just a single person focus on the songwriting is going to be the formula that TDWP needs to push them to the next level. It definitely seems to be leaning in that direction on this new album.

I do have to admit that I was buying into this new found direction during the first few tracks on this new album. The band seems to be warming up on the first four tracks and then it happens. I got kicked in the groin when “R.I.T.” began. It’s as if the case of Redbull didn’t kick in until then. Oh, but wait; it doesn’t end there. The rest of the album is just insane! The riffs are much heavier and the musicianship is tighter than ever. The trade off of vocal styles between singer Mike Hranica and guitarist Jeremy DePoyster is taken to a whole new level too.

“Born to Lose”, “Constance” and “Hold Fast” are standouts for so many reasons. Of course, the above mentioned reasons are ever apparent on these selections, but the balance between being heavy while still being catchy on these songs is just unbelievable. The band has also included a synth element with James Baney doing those duties. It really adds a layer to the music while still allowing the songs to take on that heavier sound.

The new album was produced by Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage. I think he definitely needs to be credited, at least in part, for helping the band find this new comfort zone which helps them to grow as a group. This is definitely a different TDWP and they show that they have grown by leaps and bounds in such a short amount of time. I don’t know, maybe Adam helped them unlock their own personal Pandora’s Box? There is even an instrumental on the album entitled “Kansas” that showcases just how much the band has grown as musicians since the early days of their debut.

The rhythm section of a band is like the glue that holds them together, but doesn’t always get the praise that they deserve. Well, I think bassist Andy Trick and drummer Daniel Williams need to be given a co-MVP award on this album. The fill-ins that Daniel provides are top-notch and that double-kick of his is in rare form. It’s almost exhausting listening to him on this album!

So, is this the best that TDWP has unleashed on us? Well, I would have to say a major YES to that question. It seems as if almost every aspect of the band has been given steroids, with the exception of writing. It’s pretty much in line with past efforts, but this time it just seems to click better with their new sense of heaviness. The only thing that really doesn’t work for me would have to be Mike Hranica’s high-end screams/vocals, which seem to be a little weak when compared to his low end. His low register has quite a bit of depth to it and is very effective.

I really hope that TDWP will take this new found focus and build on it. Change and evolution is good for a band and is also very necessary for staying power. It’s tough to be a one trick pony in this industry now and not fade away quickly. The guys seem to have woken up to this fact and seemed determined to become a staying power and not just another footnote. This is definitely one of the best releases of 2011 and it also sets the bar high for many bands from this genre looking to release a new album in 2012.

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