The Devil Wears Prada were the kings of the post-hardcore genre after the release of With Roots Above And Branches Below in 2009, thanks in part to how phenomenal it was, and also because of Underoath’s lineup instability. With Dead Throne, the monarchs of screamo deliver their most brutal album to date, which allows them to retain their hardcore crowns, but doesn’t necessarily allow them to create a superior followup. Although The Devil Wears Prada takes a turn for the experimental and evolve as composers, they also stay true to the raw and heavy post-hardcore sound that defines them and sets them apart. Dead Throne leans more toward the hardcore aspects and Mike Hranica’s mighty bellows are as commanding as ever, but the subtle touches of piano and strings sprinkled throughout reveal a lot about the band’s progression as musicians. This new style doesn’t quite live up to the appeal of With Roots Above And Branches Below, but Dead Throne is, at the very least, a solid followup to a nearly unsurpassable effort.
“Mammoth” is a short but aggressive burst of post-hardcore goodness, as the guitars and bass of Chris Rubey, Jeremy DePoyster and Andy Trick roar like angry buzz saws. The fast-paced drumming of Daniel Williams sets the tempo, while DePoyster’s melodious clean vocals dominate the extremely catchy chorus. The guitar riffs steal the show here, but “Mammoth” is a prime example of TDWP at their highest level of balance and appeal.
“Kansas” shows compositional elements never seen from the band before, as TDWP delivers an epic and emotionally charged instrumental. There are no vocals other than the foreboding, otherworldly proclamation, “It is though God by command has withdrawn every other throne. And God is saying, ‘No. These people will deal with me alone.'” This terrifically composed instrumental slows down the pace but builds up the tension, displaying James Baney’s talent on the keyboards and synthesizers while also serving as a perfect transition into the album’s most brutal track.
Playing off the tension and emotion of the last track, “Born To Lose” delivers an explosive and dynamic single loaded with musical firepower. From the deep growls of the guitars to the frenetic drumming, The Devil Wears Prada lays it all on the line here. Both vocalists are stellar, as Hranica strikes the fear of God in his audience’s heart with bone-rattling screams that complement DePoyster’s impassioned wails during each chorus. Williams’ lightening-quick drumming and heavy guitar-chugging lend to the song’s imposing tone, while compositional elements are peppered in to help make “Born To Lose” the best song of Dead Throne.
The Devil Wears Prada have evolved as musicians, despite the fact that Dead Throne doesn’t live up to their best work. From intricate layering to advanced lyricism about the struggle against sin and desire for righteousness, this band comes off as ferocious yet enlightened. However, despite their reflective and spiritual themes, be warned: The Devil Wears Prada is not for the faint of heart. Fewer bands will induce such a wonderfully nightmarish headache as TDWP. This is a place where rapid-fire guitars sound like power tools; tools used to craft the most brutal and intimidating riffs imaginable. The drums resemble cannon fire that fluidly transitions between a slow, ominous pace and impossibly frenetic pounding. And amidst the high-pitched and low, guttural screams, The Devil Wears Prada spares no expense in bringing in the heavy artillery. But for fans of other post-hardcore bands like We Came As Romans, Blessthefall, Underoath, Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, August Burns Red and Miss May I, Dead Throne will strike home as a prolifically brutal dose of the genre. Pulling off an album to follow up With Roots Above And Branches Below that could actually surpass it was a nearly impossible task. Dead Thrones trades in the synthesizers and studio-produced effects for piano, strings and other orchestral touches that lend to the band’s credibility as songwriters. However, this raw, heavy metalcore sound doesn’t quite live up to the unique sound of their last album. But at the very least, The Devil Wears Prada has produced another masterful work and retained their position at the very top of the post-hardcore food chain for the time being.
Final Score: 8.6/10
Rank: 2nd (four total albums)
- Dead Throne
- My Questions
- Born To Lose
- Forever Decay