Sound — 5
It was after the peak year of the electronicore fad that The Devil Wears Prada advanced considerably in their brand of metalcore, where 2009's "flavor of the month" sound of "With Roots Above and Branches Below" was followed by the band's first EP, "Zombie," a year later. In was in that 5-song EP that showed the band sounding more menacing, theatrical, and overall serious - especially in the ditching of kitschy synthwork and investing more maturity in the symphonic elements - and acted as a precursor to their well-lauded fourth album, "Dead Throne." Even more musical growth was displayed in their following album, 2013's "8:18," which brought back synth elements but also utilized them in a more mature and pensive matter, influenced by the textural and ambient qualities heard in progressive/post metal - though one can also see this direction as simply filling in the hole where Underoath used to be 3-5 years ago.
Nevertheless, The Devil Wears Prada are continuing to deliver that style of metalcore previously heard in "8:18" in their newest EP, "Space." Like their first EP being embedded in a concept, the compositions in "Space" gravitate towards the inspiration of outer space, which, on paper, seems like a perfect way to elaborate upon the more nuanced and texturally-oriented post-metal recipe the band have been working with as of lately. But ultimately, the sound aspect of "Space" results in a surface-scratching meagerness. With the synthwork being no more developed than that heard in their previous album (with simple tonal aspects in the intros of "Planet A" and "Moongod" sounding synonymous with the "8:18" songs "First Sight" and "Number Eleven"), the band appeal to the theme of the concept primarily with heavy-handed sonic characteristics, like filtered-out sound decays and sampling astronaut speech.
The metalcore aspect of "Space" doesn't offer much change or growth, either, and from the stampeding riffs in the aggressive "Alien" to the resonant guitar leads in the more melodic "Supernova," there isn't anything encountered here that hasn't been encountered in a previous The Devil Wears Prada album. The best proof of songwriting growth on the EP is the band's weaving of the harsh and gentle, displayed in two reputable moments: the muddy decay that washes out the heavy beginning of "Asteroid" and blooms into the clean and ethereal second act of the song, and the pairing of gentle verses with frontman Mike Hranica's harsh vocals and louder choruses with guitarist Jeremy DePoyster's clean vocals - a juxtaposition that isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but still integral to building a more captivating metal repertoire.
Lyrics — 5
In contrast to the loose-yet-linear story arc that spanned throughout "Zombie," Hranica's conceptual lyrics in "Space" are divvied up into five separate bouts of lyrics, and though one would assume that the literally astronomical topic of outer space would be near limitless for lyrical inspiration, Hranica's lyrics travel beaten paths. The fantastical and emotionally allegorical space imagery doled out in "Supernova" is fairly evocative, albeit elementary, but the space traveler/lone survivor story in "Planet A" is cookie-cutter science fiction (not to mention the lonesome survivor sentiment delivered in the end ties back to that heard in the final "Zombie" song "Survivor," though this could also be assumed as a clever callback), and doubly so for the generic space monsters articulated in "Alien." The scientifically-prophesized doomsday told in "Asteroid" is also another iteration of a well-worn idea (Bruce Willis' "Armageddon" comes to mind, among plenty other movies), but Hranica's usage of the end of times to exacerbate his existential message of "life's too short to be bitter" works in putting some more substantial meat on the song's bones.
Overall Impression — 4
Unlike the pivotal growth experienced in The Devil Wears Prada's first concept EP, the output heard on "Space" does little more than echo what was heard from the band in "8:18," with a noticeably lesser potency. Though a couple moments show traces of songwriting growth, there's nothing on the EP that's remarkable from anything previously heard from the band, and the EP's concept fails to act as a saving grace, or even worthwhile novelty, for the pallid songwriting. Ultimately, "Space" is a skippable moment for the band's discography, and perhaps their next LP will give them more room for substantial and satisfying growth.