The last time I trashed my living room to the entirety of a Synthcore record was when I had just become old enough to vote. Having delved into a whole new kind of heavy music not long after, I took a hiatus from anything that remotely coupled autotuned cleans with half-assed growls and endless binary riffage. But needless to say, having just checked out a live clip of the track “Vengeance” from a previous album of theirs, I couldn’t resist giving The Devil Wears Prada’s latest full-length “8:18” a thorough listen.
First things first, I feel no shame in coming clean about the fact that it’s been a good amount of time since I followed the TDWP camp seriously. When I started listening to the record I wasn’t even sure if they had the same line-up or otherwise. That being said, I find it reasonable enough to suggest that this is some of the strongest Post-Hardcore material I have come across so far. Let alone this year, where the only worthy competitions against “8:18”, in my opinion, would be Bring Me The Horizon’s “Sempiternal” and Feed Her To The Shark’s “Savage Seas”.
“Gloom” kick starts business in typical fashion for TDWP. Ominous buzzing audio samples pave the way for a dual assault from good ol’ Mike Hranica’s hoarse growls and Chris Dubey’s power-packed riffing. Based on first impressions, jack of all trades, producer Adam D’s hand in the overall sound is quite obvious. There is a certain amount of rawness in Hranica’s growls, which- as far as I remember- dominates the mix more than it did in the first two records. TDWP has also adopted a more detailed approach to their songwriting, it seems. This is because, the slow, measure delivery that they exercise on their songs such as “First Sight”, the 1st single off the album and 4th track “War”, as opposed to their compositions which are known for their breakneck tempos,and mosh-friendly progressions. No disrespect towards former keyboardist James Baney, who was quite the indispensable member, both live and in the studio, but the band, seems to have quite the knack for composing some interesting dark and atmospheric keyboard samples that somehow fare as more mature than those in the previous works. Tracks such as the likes of the title number and the track “Care More” are a testimonial to this new emerging nuance. Rhythm guitarist/Backing vocalist Jeremy Depoyster further shines with his clean vocal melodies, on most tracks, if not “Care More” where he takes charge of the vocal-work all by himself. However, it would definitely suck to not see Baney play with the band live again. Welp, there had to be one complaint.
The 5th track “Sailors Prayer” is another addition that stands out from the rest. There seems to be an unmistakable TimLambesis-ian (“Awakened” era of course) flavour to Hranica’s low growls. Being an AILD fan for the better part of my life as a Metalhead, this can only act as a catalyst towards the band’s dynamics which I have piqued my interest again. Now, I’d be remiss if I said the entire songwriting approach TDWP have taken is formulaic and predictable, but I give them the benefit of doubt since it is something that has to do more with the genre itself than the band in particular. Therefore, do not be surprised if the album sounds a tad bit monotonous and sparingly uninspiring in parts.
A case of rustled jimmies notwithstanding, there is nothing ground-breaking or genre-redefining on this album other than the fact that by now TDWP are masters in their trade and they execute it well. So, it would be a bit of an overkill to bitch about the lack of solos or anything virtuoso-like on the album. “8:18” is more about celebrating the coming of age of a band that every Hatebreed fan’s younger sibling listens to and is a good record as any for anyone looking to get into the genre deeper.
“8:18” is a sum parts of the gradient of improvement in the band-members’ individual prowess; a must have record for all Post-Hardcore fans out there. Serious/no-nonsense Metal fans should be more than happy if they treat it as something to soothe their nerves between the gargantuan releases that the year has seen so far, and the ones that are yet to be witnessed. Regardless of who dons the headphones, “8:18” is a good, solid record in its own right.