Review: The Devil Wears Prada – 'Space'

The Devil Wears Prada, a household name for those of you familiar with the core based sub-genres. With guitarist Chris Rubey departing earlier this year, and re-signing to Rise Records, it’s certainly been a hectic six months, but with a new guitarist on board, and on the 5th anniversary of the ‘Zombie’ EP, they return with their latest offering, ‘Space’.

‘Zombie’ was released back in 2010, and really struck a chord with fans and the international metal scene. Arguably the bands most successful release to date, and one that sees them touring it once again for its 5th anniversary. No pressure then.

With Chris Rubey’s parting, the process for the bands songwriting has become much more collaborative. Chris played a vital role in constructing most of the bands tracks. With that influence lost, the band has come together to create what seems to be focused more on the storytelling aspect, something that some fans will appreciate, and some will find disappointing.

 ‘It’s not as heavy as people might anticipate’ said Mike Hranica. This may come as a shock to fans, but is something that has definitely altered the bands definitive soundtrack.

This is certainly not The Devil Wears Prada of old. With this 19-minute EP, we are shot up into the stratosphere and rocketed around Hranica’s inner storyteller. Be prepared for the unexpected.

The EP takes off with ‘Planet A’, the underlying story being a flight through space with the craft crashing to Planet A. It follows the story of a young woman, Elizabeth, dreaming and in pursuit of an explorative career, later finding herself the lone survivor of the crash and alone on Planet A. Guitarists Jeremy DePoyster and Kyle Sipress have clearly been working in union with drummer Daniel Williams, providing a powerful structure for Hranica and Jonathan Gering, keyboards and synthesizers, to conjure the space element on top.

Hranica has spoken about ‘Planet A’ being written by Gering, and it is clear that his role has become vital to providing the space theme on this track, and on the rest of the EP. Synth and keys played a much smaller role in previous releases but with the current theme, it has definitely become a more definitive role within the bands songwriting.

Track 2, ‘Alien’, is a song that speaks for itself. Described by Hranica to be ‘the most immediate subject that had to be on the Space EP’, the song is based around an alien attack outside of Earth. Very much an open-ended song, but one that seems to be clear with Hranica and his Ridley Scott based interpretations.

This track is very similar to the styling heard on ‘Zombie’, huge breakdown style sections, and a much faster tempo, losing some of the melody heard in ‘Planet A’, but again, this is a heavier song, with a much more aggressive approach.

The guitars play a much more pronounced role on this track. At the heart of every component, The Devil Wears Prada’s ability to provide crushing riffs and driven chorus sections, seemingly allowing us to reminisce on the aggressive nature that came in the form of the ‘Zombie’ EP.

‘Moongod’ is another one of Hranica’s visions for this EP. Like Alien, the moon was a component that had to be featured on the album but Hranica’s ability to create characters, brought upon the creation of Moongod. Taking reference from the film ‘20 Thousand Days On Earth’, Hranica focuses on one particular moment, where Nick Cave discusses a character in one of his fictional worlds, a character that keeps score, and watches over in a god-like manner.

Reverting back to the bands melodic progression after ‘Alien’, a much clearer comparison to the stylistic development that we heard in ‘Planet A’, the clarity being picked up throughout. Their proven ability to present powerful chorus sections with tightly packed lyrical hooks. Again, we find that the keys and synth sections have become more pronounced. Gering once again taking the reins to steer this well-driven track down the atmospheric, space route.

Taking a moment to breathe, we come to ‘Celestial Mechanics’. Described by Hranica as a ‘bed of keys and electronics’, tightly accompanied by organic rock drums and real guitar tones to juxtapose the strong electronic presence.

Seemingly going for a much deeper meaning than an ‘interlude track’, that some track listings may describe it as, it includes spoken word by Gering, that discusses the Earth’s revolution slowing down, and the recalibration of clocks to match 24 hours. A much deeper meaning that accompanies its sleepy, digital backbone.

The penultimate track on this EP comes in the form of, ‘Supernova’, a track that hosts the most melodic of chorus sections, and really enhances the bands ever-growing use of clean vocals. This track is as explosive as its title sugests. A verse section that will have you tearing across the galaxy, before being entranced by a stunning vocal-orientated chorus.

This track is certainly catchy, and will leave you feeling satisfied. It covers all aspects of the genre, encompassing those traditional riffs to keep die-hard metal fans happy, but also taking on board the growing use of clean vocals throughout the modern progression of metal. It’s a great track, and one that I would argue to be the best on the album. Some may disagree with the bands decision to pursue the clean vocal direction, but I think the increased versatility will certainly open up some doors in regards to gaining new fans.

Bringing the EP to a close is ‘Asteroid’. Like its subject, the track has a very driven and clear path, increasing in pace, and then colliding, as the main verse section comes in. The difference in vocal tones from Hranica really gives this track added perspective that we are yet to fully see. This is the first time in the EP where we have heard clean vocals used in an atmospheric section of a song, usually accompanied by a chorus section, but in this instance we hear the raw capability that the band has to offer, and it’s great, used as a divide between the aggressive first half of the track, to transition into the overwhelming aftermath and drive for survival.

With the direction that this style of music is going, this album has really taken on board the changes that the genre has developed, and used it to form a progression in the bands soundscape. Seemingly the masters of the EP, it is clear that The Devil Wears Prada thrives with those small, character-based themes that allow them to digest and distribute topics that interest them.

Is it still heavy? Yes. Does it still sound like The Devil Wears Prada? Yes… but like most bands in this genre, they have acknowledged the changes that are being made in the genre and are following suit. Not by any means a forced progression, but something that seems to have been timed well, due to the bands natural progression stylistically, and the change in personnel.

Track listing:

 Planet A

Alien

Moongod

Celestial Mechanics

Supernova

Asteroid

The band play Riot fest and Carnival on September 12th, before returning to Uncasville, CT for a one-off Halloween show, where they will perform the ‘Zombie’ EP in its entirety. One Hell of a show that will be!

For now, we’ll have to sit and wait for the ‘Space’ EP to be toured in the UK and Europe.

Review: Siôn Roe

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