If you had given me a The Devil Wears Prada CD a few years ago, I would have probably said “no thank you”. To my surprise their new CD Dead Throne shows signs of improvement. The lyrics, music, and production all show newfound maturity.
The Devil Wears Prada’s previous albums have silly song titles, but serious lyrics. Maybe they were trying to lighten up the usual serious nature of the metalcore scene, or to be ironic; either way I couldn’t stand it. However, the new album Dead Throne doesn’t have the silly song titles. The lyrics are more intense, better written, and generally serious. The lyrics have a theme that focuses on idolatry; according to Mike Hranica “The record is mostly based on idolatry. There’s a lot of different lyrical content. It’s not a concept record, but a lot of it has to do with anti-idolatry… it’s the idea of putting up our idols, heroes, and entities we worship onto a figurative throne. Those things won’t stay up there, and they’re not meant to be up there. That idea behind Dead Throne is making kings out of things that shouldn’t be kings”. Personally, I think this is a interesting spin on a Metalcore album, but also very fitting. I took an example from the song Born to Lose:
Blessed be those who have no idols. NO IDOLS
Invoke holy honor, sanctify the patient.
I don’t see the world the same.
I’m no one’s hero, so just forget my name.
As one can see, it’s pretty obvious that these have a biblical theme to them. Again, I think that’s cool as some things in the bible can be very intense. I commend them for taking a stand, especially in today’s metal scene.
Musically, The Devil Wears Prada continues with the usual chugga- chugga on songs like “R.I.T.” and “Forever Decay”. But their use of muddy guitar toned riffs sets them apart from other metalcore bands. On the other hand, songs like “Kansas” and “Holdfast” are more melodic with some interesting guitar harmonies, and keyboardist James Baney strays from his usual techno-synth to a more ambient addition to Prada’s songs. The singing on Dead Throne can sometimes be annoying, but the mix of clean and scream vocals allow the listener to stay focused on the song without screaming oneself. Jeremy DePoyster clean vocals are his best yet, and helps smooth out the screams and death vocals.
The Devil Wears Prada brought in a new producer Adam Dutkiewicz (aka Adam D of Killswitch Engage) and this furthers the idea that the band has matured. It’s no secret that Adam D pushes his artists hard while recording, and I think it really shows on the album. The band seems to be taking themselves a little more seriously.
Dead Throne is The Devil Wears Prada’s best release to date. Although they push no boundaries with their music, in the metalcore scene they are a force to reckoned with, and moving on from the silly song titles and pop culture teenage angst lyrics is the best move this band could have made. A serious, well-written and well-played album.
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.
Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.
Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.
Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.
Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.
The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.
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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.
Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”
Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.
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