Released: Sep 17, 2013
Number Of Tracks: 13
The album comes across as a solid representation of where the band has been going, but they also throw in a few surprises on the album that keep it interesting.
8:18Featured review by: UG Team, on september 16, 2013 4 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 8
Lyrics: 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." // 7
Overall Impression: 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.
Xomar, on december 18, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: "8:18" was available in its entirety since Sptember 17. The album, released through Roadrunner Records (Dream Theater, Opeth, Slipknot), is the first punch The Devil Wears Prada has thrown that did not hit me square in the mouth. In fact, the punch actually missed my face. Well, it sort of hit my face. I might compare it to an awkward punch that grazes your ear and kind of hurts but is mostly just irritating. The band has changed their sound and concept with every album thus far, and "8:18" is no exception. However, this fifth full-length studio album is a misstep towards a softer sound and a little less passion inside of what seems to be an uncharacteristically light-hearted concept.
Aside from the opening track "Gloom" that begins the album with a powerful crescendo, the album failed to knock the wind out of me (not like a fart, I mean like that hit in high school football that everybody heard from the stands and were just like, "dear Lord, that kid is dead") like every studio and live release thus far (yes, even "Plagues" and "Dear Love" – those albums were great at the time of their release and still deserve a listen on an occasional rainy Saturday). I look forward to seeing the "8:18 "tour here in a few days (The Observatory, Orange County) and I'm hoping that a live performance can help curb my dissatisfaction. (Though truthfully, the only thing I want to hear at a TDWP concert is the breakdown at the end of "Hey John, What's Your Name Again?" and "Danger: Wildman" about six times through.)
While their last studio album, "Dead Throne," left me in awe and missing a few teeth, "8:18" was lacking the bite-your-teeth-together-so-you-don't-accidentally-bite-your-tongue-off-when-this-titan-throws-you-across-the-room intensity that I've grown accustomed to and rather fond of. Chris Rubey's guitar work, though just as technical as any previous release, gave me nothing memorable. I can easily recall riffs from almost every single track in their previous releases but this album gave me no material to whistle about after the music stopped playing (yes, even after listening to it 10+ times). Excessive, chaotic chugging and many single guitar parts (if you have two guitars you should utilize two guitar parts) left me unsatisfied to say the least. Instead of Chris' soaring lead lines and the syncopated rhythm between Jeremy Depoyster's rhythm guitar and Daniel Williams' double kick (one of the staples of metalcore), I was left with an incessant chugging rhythm that never seemed to break out of a very small range. Very few parts of the entire album actually required two guitar parts- maybe Jeremy should play synth at their live shows instead of rhythm guitar?
Jeremy's clean vocals were not much different on this album than on any previous TDWP release. "8:18" did seem to have more clean vocals than "Dead Throne" but this does not make an album better or worse. I believe clean vocals, used effectively, can make a record just as sinister as omitting clean vocals entirely... but this is a discussion for another time. "8:18" featured the typical clean vocals belted out over the occasional chorus with the usual post-production work to make sure all high notes were in tune.
It is important to note that this was the first album that did not include James Baney on the keys/synthesizer. James had been with the band since the beginning, but they split well over a year ago for personal reasons (that were left somewhat vague). (Johnathan Gering, though not considered part of the band, played synth for "8:18.") While the synth sound on this album was drastically different from "Dead Throne" or "With Roots Above," Chris Rubey is the creator of nearly all guitar, synth, and drum parts, so this change in synth sound cannot be accredited to Baney's leaving the band (though Baney did write the legendary synth intro to "Big Wiggly Style"... I guess we’ll never get one of those again).
Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage) is back on production for a second time, this time as executive producer. He was a producer on "Dead Throne" and came back again to help his fellow Roadrunner Records members. There was an obvious shift in style from "With Roots Above" to "Dead Throne," a portion of which can be attributed to Adam and his aid on the album. "8:18" is a very high-quality record and I am not criticizing the quality. In fact, I would say many sounds (especially guitar tone) were much better in this album than in "Dead Throne." However, I know Adam is very hands-on and I'm always curious to know how much a producer added, removed, or edited from a band's original content. The album is well done, but the material they had to work with was not. Adam added and removed material from "Dead Throne" and I was enthralled. That's not the case this time and I hold him responsible.
Before "8:18," "Dead Throne" was the first full-length album to be written entirely in B-flat (the "Zombie" EP was written in B-flat and "With Roots Above" had a few songs below C). The drop from C in "With Roots Above" to B-flat in "Dead Throne" helped the sound and concept grow darker and harsher. In "8:18" we find the same B-flat tuning being used, but this most recent release proves that a lower tuning never guarantees a harsher or more intense sound. // 6
Lyrics: Mike Hranica's lyrics have always been my strongest draw to The Devil Wears Prada. While I am a guitar guy at heart and a huge fan of Chris Rubey's work, it's Mike's writing (and not to mention, intimidatingly awesome screaming) that keeps me coming back to TDWP time and again. While the screams and growls were just as powerful as ever, the writing just wasn't there this time around. Lots of fluff, very wordy, stereotypical lyrics, and cheesy rhymes (yes, Mike actually has lines that rhyme in this album - this might be the first time ever). I can't garner the same insight and inspiration as past albums because it's just not there to be had. The writing isn't as deep or seemingly heartfelt as it has been in the past. I'm not hating on every last line and word, but in general the writing was weak. // 5
Overall Impression: Having said all of this, I will now lighten up and offer excuses on the band's behalf:
Like the nostalgia I experience from playing "Zelda: Ocarina of Time" or watching episodes of "Even Stevens," certain feelings are drawn up from listening to older TDWP. I remember that Warped Tour appearance years back and that first time I saw them in Indianapolis when I was still in high school. However, TDWP is still together and creating new music. While I can revel in the old stuff, I can still look forward to the new material and future tours. This band has been growing up and aging just as I have. As their sound and attitude have changed, so have mine. The TDWP I listened to back in high school is not the same TDWP that I hear today - but I'm not the same Harry listening to it, and accordingly, I probably wouldn't appreciate that old sound packaged as a new album.
I must confess: recently I've been sucked in by the indie rock fad that has been sweeping the nation (no, this isn't a recent thing for those of you that were unaware). I had no interest in this indie garbage when "Dead Throne" was released, so maybe these changing preferences leave me with a bad taste in my mouth for new TDWP material. Also, it is important to point out that previous releases (yes, even the "Zombie" EP) hit me at a weak point at the perfect time.
Most of "Dead Throne" is a lament - Mike (or the hypothetical man he is writing on behalf of) hates what he has become. He screams at God to not abandon him. It's very much an inward looking concept, at the evil inside us, but it includes God and begs for His help. Mike recognizes that real change has to come with aid from somewhere else. He doesn't merely acknowledge that he has become a monster - he wants to change. "If I could change things, I'd change myself." "Remind me God, refresh what's turned to gray. Oh my intentions: you vanish with the wind." These lyrics hit me at a very turbulent time in my life. Mike was screaming what I could not put to words. The last track of "Dead Throne" encourages the listener to "Holdfast." Mike screams, "We will not be forgotten: holdfast, holdfast." After an entire album of weeping over the monster he has become and questioning, "When did I start drowning, when did I start choking?" he leaves us with hope and the challenge to holdfast and fight on.
Maybe "8:18" just didn't hit me at the right time and exactly where I needed to be hit. Of course I have things I'm struggling with and parts of my life I need to give up to God to transform. Mike's lyrics, no matter how great or inspired they may be, are his words. I can't rely on his words to somehow help me have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe, subconsciously, the fact that this album hasn't inspired me in the way that previous albums did is the reason I'm not a fan of "8:18." I have no doubt that Mike poured his heart and soul into this record and I don't want to take away from what he and the rest of the band are doing. I hope they continue head banging while preaching the Good Word for a long time. I love the fact that these guys go crazier than every other band all while sharing the message and love of Jesus Christ. They don't force it down your throat - they just explain what they're about, the whole reason for making music, and the fact that this is not going to change.
I bought "8:18," I'm going to see TDWP on the release tour, and I'll probably buy a t-shirt. I'm a huge fan and have been for a long time. And if TDWP comes back to LA/OC in the future, you can bet I'll see them again - I'll just be that guy yelling for them to play old tracks. I hope they keep writing and I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the future. The guys have been doing this since 2005 and I hope they don't end with "8:18."
Romans "8:18" For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV) // 6