Sound — 8
The Devil Wears Prada is a Christian melodic metalcore band formed in 2005, and since that time they have released four previous albums, making "8:18" their fifth release. This will also be their first album not to feature their original keyboardist, James Baney, who left the band in 2012. Otherwise, the band retains all the other founding members. They are unique as a Christian band for having made a name for themselves with both the Christian and secular communities, and playing many large secular tours and festivals. "8:18" is their fifth full length studio release, containing 13 tracks clocking in at just a little under 45 minutes. There have been 3 singles already released from the album: "Martyrs," "Home for Grave" and "First Sight." The album opens with the track "Gloom," which does a good job of creating a vibe to match the track's title and utilizes a lot of vocal processing and keyboards. "Gloom" also displays some gang vocals in the chorus. Next up is "Rumors," which has a couple of really cool little tempo changes and an interesting melody on the keyboard. "Rumors" is also the first track on the album that shows off DePoyster's clean vocals on the album. "First Sight," which was the third single from the album, has a little recurring guitar lick that has a neo-classical feel to it and some of my favorite un-clean vocals on the album. "War" is my favorite song on the album, instrumentally, because while it is possibly one of the least heavy songs on the album, it has one of the most interesting vibes on the album. The title track, "8:18," which I assume is reference to a Bible chapter and verse, is heavy on groove (in the realm of music by The Devil Wears Prada), but is another song that isn't really as heavy as I was hoping/expecting it to be. "Sailor's Prayer" is probably the most stereotypically metalcore of any song on the album with some fast repetitive riffing but it definitely grew on me more with subsequent listens. "Care More" definitely stood out from the rest of the album, starting out more like what you would expect from Imagine Dragons (though it does have a few slightly heavier passages in it) but it was a nice little interlude in the middle of the album. "Martyrs," the first album single, is almost like the standard pounding double bass drums and screeching vocals you expect from The Devil Wears Prada on their previous releases, but honestly a sound I thought they had moved away from. The track "Black & Blue" starts out with a sinister melody and builds to a frantic track with dramatic static-filled pauses and gang vocal choruses. "Transgress" starts out with a strong melody emphasized by the drums and a clean guitar riff, but quickly builds to be a very intense track and contains my favorite vocal performance on the album from Hranica. "Number Eleven" starts out with some keyboard/synth that I think is supposed to sound like wolves howling, and is followed up by some of my favorite guitar riffing on the album. "Home for Grave," the second single on the album, has an interesting composition going on with fairly heavy passages and very sparse passages and once again, this is a track that uses a lot of dramatic pausing. The album closes out with the track "In Heart," which is a weird mix of melancholy and aggression, and had a really catch guitar melody underlying the rhythm. The album is mixed really well for the most part, dodging the problems I hear in a lot of metalcore of making bad decisions with the levels on the drums or vocals.
Lyrics — 7
Mike Hranica provides lead vocals, while rhythm guitarist Jeremy DePoyster provides clean vocals for the album. While I've really tried to like Hranica's vocals, I just can't do it. For the most part his voice seems to have too much of a whining quality to it that I just couldn't get behind, though I did enjoy it at moments mostly on the tracks "In Heart" and "Transgress." On the other hand, I feel like DePoyster has some of the most solid clean vocals you can find in an active metalcore band these days, and enjoyed almost all of his work on the album. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from "Home for Grave": "The normal man, promised all things/ Brought into this, taken by pain/ He mistook home for grave/ The normal man, filtered by hate/ Living to pay, buying what's fake/ He mistook home for grave/ It's not what we're made to be/ So why'd he do it? / I guess he just did not know/ I guess we just do what we're told/ The anthem cries, but why listen? / I guess we just do what we're told/ Betrayed again, betrayed again/ What began as life for him was only sorrow, was only shame/ It's like the story of disgrace/ Fraught with peril every day/ So why'd he do it? / I guess he just did not know."
Overall Impression — 8
The bottom line is this is a very solid album for its genre, and it even has a few surprises in it. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Care More," "Transgress," "Home for Grave" and "Number Eleven." I didn't necessarily dislike any songs on the album, though I was most underwhelmed by the track "Martyrs." While Hranica's voice didn't win me over on this album, he does seem to be moving more towards what I would like to hear with unclean vocals and hopefully he'll keep it up.