With Roots Above And Branches Below review by The Devil Wears Prada

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  • Released: May 5, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (178 votes)
The Devil Wears Prada: With Roots Above And Branches Below
1

Sound — 9
One word of caution before this review: The Devil Wears Prada is a love or hate band. Whether you dislike the band due to the vocals, multiple breakdowns, or just the fact that many Myspace tween fangirls worship them, this album is still a solid metalcore effort, and all the musicians step up their game in melody and intensity. On their two previous efforts, The Devil Wears Prada have mixed melodic and screaming vocals with brutal breakdowns, metalcore riffage, breakdowns, keyboard/synth atmosphere, and breakdowns... Did I mention breakdowns? Though many of the breakdowns in this album have been tweaked, fine-tuned and laden with new heaviness, most of the utter breakneck brutal palm muting riffs of Plagues and Dear Love have been replaced with more melodic lead guitar parts, something mostly absent on their previous efforts. The clean vocals have been improved, and the leads and keyboard melodic parts have taken a larger role, such as straight keyboard bridges and synth sub-sections and various atmospheric layered riffs. The production has been improved, and the songs feel more layered. This is by far TDWP's most accessible, and arguably best, album yet.

Lyrics — 8
The lyrics of the band haven't changed much. The usual Christian metalcore lyrics have been inserted, which could be either a problem or a blessing depending on who is listening to them. Though the lyrical themes haven't changed, they have improved, as clean singer Jeremy cries for the listener to not get caught up in the "branches" of life, and instead look to the "roots" of their problems. Their Christian beliefs help the atmospheres take more meaning and significance in their compositions. The vocals are definitely different from their previous LPs. Clean vocalist Jeremy has improved, as his voice soars over the music. Mike's screams have, arguably, deepened, and some say his voice has weakened. There definitely is a little loss in his former tone, and certain songs he takes a little too much space in, however, this could be mainly due to production and not due to his voice. I believe it is a little bit of both. So, in short, the lyrics and vocals have improved, but not taken a different form.

Overall Impression — 8
As stated before, The Devil Wears Prada is a love or hate band. Their style of Christian metalcore is not anything that hasn't been done before. However, this is where TDWP shines: Christian metalcore simply hasn't been this good since (fellow Christian artists) Underoath and Norma Jean's earlier days, and this album contains elements that will attract non-Christian metalcore fans as well. This album is a blatantly larger step up in every way for the band, and makes Plagues look like a practice EP. Like it or not, The Devil Wears Prada will be around for a while, as this latest effort proves.

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    johnny141093
    xcrunner1 wrote: I disagree with the reviewer, I like "Louder than Thunder" where it is. It reminds me of the way KSE used "Without a Name" a the soft track on AOJB to seperate the album closer "Rise Inside" from the parade of other songs. It gets you in a more introspective mood for the last song.
    Agreed, KSE did well, and the principle is good, I wouldn't have used Lord Xenu as the closer, not in that tuning anyway. They play the penultimate 3 tracks in B minor (Wapakalypse, Gimme Half & Louder Than Thunder) then revert to D minor (i.e. Drop D tuning) for the closer. The problem is, they start it on a Bb5 chord (8th fret power chord) so it actually sounds vile after the beauty of Louder Than Thunder. They could have done a better job, even if it was just them playing Lord Xenu in Drop B. The rest of the album is completely epic, and the songs are fantastic, don't get me wrong, I love it, but that is the only issue I have.
    -tempest-
    i actually like this album. i found that plagues got boring after a bit. its good to hear the keys more. most bands with key either have em for show or use to much. here i found there was a decent balance. the key could have been used more imo. the riffs were hit hit or miss for me along with some of the screaming. 7.5/10 for me
    MAXPAYNE4664
    Very awesome album. Will be seeing them live at Warped Tour this year. Saw them last year at Warped and they were one of the few bands that stood out. Their stage presence is amazing.
    ripsaw
    personally jeremy needs to shut the **** up and let mike do his thing. His vocals were 10 times better on plagues where he actually hits his HIs and Growls and threw some squeals in, it sounds just like its all being forced. They also need to get back to their own style of no structure almost opera written songs and stop the generic bury your dead riffs.
    'woot''woot'
    I watched the dvd that came with the special edition of the cd, and Jeremy CAN hit those notes, but not for hours on end. But most people cannot sustain a perfect, almost out of range vocal performance through a whole set. But i still appreciated that he did hit those notes during recording.
    sexclamation
    They got the name and the principle from the book. And they are not generic. They are the only band that sounds like them. The vocals do get a little bit overbearing but the clean vocals are freaking beautiful. The guitar work and production of this album greatly improved and the drums are fantastic. Just because Mike's screaming is not super amazing doesn't mean there isn't still music behind him to listen to and appreciate. So all those people who bash this band because of vocals are ****ing morons and need to get there head out of the gutter. This was definitely the best album they have come out with yet.
    Untamed_Horizon
    Oh yeah here's a comment on their production quality: Freakin' awesome, everything is laid out perfectly in each of the songs. The guitars can be heard cleanly even with the heavy distortion. Almost every note in the palms' and tremolo picking can be heard, it's freakin' glorious. And the overall album itself: epic/epic/epic.
    Untamed_Horizon
    Sick sick sick... that's all i can say. Best -core album of the year, which goes the same way for each of their past albums. And just cuz they play with only 40% of their stuff out of metal roots doesn't make them posers, cuz it's their* band, and they have their* own sound. And tis have some pretty brutal and catchy riffs that you can't refuse to listen to.
    mast4r cheif
    The riff at about 0:40 in assistant to the regional manager is one of the most awesome ive ever heard. I thought the album was crap at first but its a lot more accesible than plagues. and catchier than dear love.
    >>Eric<<
    They could have done better. I like some of the breakdowns in this album, but it didn't surpass Plagues in my opinion.
    SKYS100
    all of you griping about mikes lows need to listen to lord xenu near the end (and that isnt the only part) where mike does high on lows and its sickkkk. i think his lows are just as good he obviously wanted to push himself vocally. best album ive bought in a long time everyone needs to check it out.
    Superperfex
    Fender700 wrote: And for the sake of debate, does anybody else feel like "Lord Xenu" was a really crappy way to end the album? personally i think they should've ended with a better song.
    To be honest, I never really got enough enthusiasm to make it through that track. BUT WHO CARES, teh rest of the album more than makes up for it. =]
    ASStrostiffy666
    smokeyalater wrote: this is the best album ive got this year or heard , its a shame they suck live
    No they're not. They're amazing live IMO. Albums not great, but it's not bad either :]
    Fender700
    And for the sake of debate, does anybody else feel like "Lord Xenu" was a really crappy way to end the album? personally i think they should've ended with a better song.
    DOUBLE11DOWN
    I agree that Mike's screams seem to not vary as much and have gotten weaker. Also the structure of most of the songs seem to be more generic and too predictable. Thats what made Plagues epic, every song was unique in its build. Too many verse - chorus - verse on this album. Still a solid effort but heavier doesn't mean better. 7.5/10. TDWP is still super nasty live tho, I'm amped to see'em again.
    Fender700
    This is quite a different effort for them. At first i didnt like it but it is growing on me. For one, the production quality has greatly improved. As for the new drop B tuning...ughhh typical hardcore/metalcore scene band. Taking the easy way out by tuning down the guitars so the breakdowns sound heavier. sooooo predictable. and can i PLEASE adress the vocals??? dear god...the singing is way better, although when i saw them live, he could barely sing his parts right. Mike's screaming is so horrible though, and i found myself telling the CD to shut up! His high-pitched "new" style is absolute murder on the ears. As a whole, the musical aspects of the album shine through,every instrument has improved with the exception of screams. And i wouldnt mind seeing these guys again and hearing the new stuff live.
    ver555
    I can't seem to grasp how so many people think the screams are generic. There are only so many ways he can manipulate his voice (high, middle, low). How do you expect him to keep coming up with unique tones for eleven 4-5 minute songs? I will agree that the screams are maybe a little bit too high pitched at times, but aside from that i think they are fine. My biggest complaint with the album would be the amount of repetitive breakdowns. These should be shortened. They create a lull in the song and if he wasn't screaming the whole time they could put you asleep. I realize breakdowns are a staple in this genre but in my honest opinion extended repetitive breakdowns can make songs boring. This band has great instrumentals but the songs could be shortened and tightened up.
    Hardcore704
    love the new album its pretty heavy. i hate the screams they are very repetitive but the clean singing blows my mind. I saw them about a month ago and it was amazing they played 2 songs from the new album so i preordered it and i love it. great band and they should keep doing work
    xclue122lessx
    got_trivium? wrote: ConnorOnFire wrote: jetfuel495 wrote: Brattarocks wrote: "The Devil Wears Prada" ...wow what a hardcore name...Came from the book, in case you're wondering. According to the band, it didn't. theres an interview on headbangers blog where they say its from the book. care to try again? This album absolutely amazing. Ben Has A Kid has the filthiest breakdown I've heard in a long time.
    got_trivium? wrote: erikpatrick wrote: got_trivium? wrote: ConnorOnFire wrote: jetfuel495 wrote: Brattarocks wrote: "The Devil Wears Prada" ...wow what a hardcore name...Came from the book, in case you're wondering. According to the band, it didn't. theres an interview on headbangers blog where they say its from the book. care to try again? This album absolutely amazing. Ben Has A Kid has the filthiest breakdown I've heard in a long time. you think again...watch the dvd from plagues. well the interview on HBB is way more recent and he clearly talks about how the name came after the book came out because the members liked what the name portrayed.
    Okay- you guys are close. haha. It IS from the book. However, they didnt mean it the same way. The band meant it as a message. That you shouldnt hold on to earthly possessions and brand names (like "Prada") and you shouldnt base youre life around them because God has much better things for you in heaven. Therefore- "The Devil Wears Prada". I love them. And this new album is crazy sick. it is so brutal. Best songs are tracks 3-6.
    Kyle|777|
    it's a good album and a great job by the whole band. i liked mike's screaming better on the first 2 albums though. on this one he sounds like he's forcing it too high. also sometimes it sounds like they try to be something they're not. like they try to be as heavy a band as possible, but if they'd just stick to what they do best, i really think more people would like em. and yeah like some people said the songs didn't really flow, there wasn't much transition, it was kinda like a start and stop throught the whole album. but nonetheless they're still amazing no doubt.