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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Devil Wears Prada -- Dead Throne

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7/10

I rarely buy an album just because the cover looks awesome, but in the case of The Devil Wears Prada's Dead Throne, I made an exception. I'd heard a little of the band before, thought they sounded like generic screamo, and ignored them. Any band who can get Dan Seagrave to paint something that cool for them must have something going on, though, right?
After one listen, it sounds like The Devil Wears Prada have one thing down: chugga, chugga, breakdown, scream, chugga chugga, chugga, chugga, breakdown, scream, high-pitched, digitally-corrected chorus, breakdown, chugga, chugga, scream. Okay, that's more than one thing, but with only a cursory listen, that's all you'll hear. Multiple listens will show that this music is actually more complex than that description. It can basically be divided into two things: breakdowns and interesting parts. The interesting parts are mostly effects-laden guitar lead lines that pop up throughout the album. They're like the green-lit mist that floats around the darkness of the album cover. Another interesting element is the album's minimal keyboard work, but it's mostly used to flesh out the breakdowns, and just doesn't rear its head enough. When it does more than that, it brings the songs to a whole new level, especially the two that break formula completely. Coincidentally(?), these songs are both named after places: "Kansas" and Chicago."
"Kansas" is a huge-sounding instrumental, beginning with the aforementioned lead lines, eventually building to an epic conclusion.

"Chicago" includes only harsh vocals and is easily the most promising song of the album. It has no verse or chorus, just builds to a large moment and ends. It doesn't have any chugging or breakdowns--in fact, it's the only song on the album that doesn't. It's reminiscent of a cold Chicago night, and it's awesome. If The Devil Wears Prada name their next album's entire tracklist after places and fill it with songs like this, you'll be seeing a higher overall score from this reviewer.

I've just said the rest of the album doesn't sound like this song, though. Overall, The Devil Wears Prada do lean too heavily on breakdowns. As I stated in my review of their Zombie EP, if The Devil Wears Prada can learn to inject space and air into their music, they won't be forced to pad their tracks out with these breakdowns. Also, as I said in my Zombie EP review, I wish the singing vocalist would let his real voice shine through more. After some Youtube research, it's clear to me that it's a little lower than what you hear on their albums, but the guy can indeed carry a tune. He sounds just fine live, and I think he should try to capture that feel more on the band's recorded work. Speaking of live, here's a clip proving what I just said, and showing all the strengths of this album: high energy, tight performances, incredible drumming, genuine ferocity in the harsh vocals, and well-written melodies in the singing.

That's a heck of a lot of strengths, and the more one listens to Dead Throne, the more apparent they are. It's a grower in the best sense, and while The Devil Wears Prada may still be learning how to write a song, if they continue to grow, they might find themselves among the best. They have a lyricist with ambitions (his anti-idolatry songs, which comprise the bulk and theme of Dead Throne, are well-penned), and they sound hungry. I'm ready for more.

2011 Ferret/Roadrunner
1. Dead Throne 2:45
2. Untidaled 2:55
3. Mammoth 2:43
4. Vengeance 3:02
5. R.I.T. 2:49
6. My Questions 3:12
7. Kansas (instrumental) 3:36
8. Born to Lose 3:05
9. Forever Decay 3:25
10. Chicago 2:45
11. Constance (featuring Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying) 3:19
12. Pretenders 3:28
13. Holdfast 3:49

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