The Act

An Album By

The Devil Wears Prada

Review by

The Devil Wears Prada 2019

Listen now

The hardest part about reviewing The Act is the conflict between what is expected and what is perceived. In their latest release, The Devil Wears Prada bravely charts new waters, leaving behind the burden of pressure to make something conventional, trendy, “heavy,” or anything else that falls under the umbrella of expectation. Instead, what these seasoned vets have produced is an experience that can’t (shouldn’t) be dictated by comparisons to any of their past work and will never be encompassed in a simple star rating.

This time around, three years since Transit Blues was released, approaching the latest Prada album comes down to relinquishing those expectations. The new album is raw, avant-garde, and unlike anything they’ve ever done. Fans won’t be able to press play and hope to relive their Roots Above scene days.

What fans can expect, however, is the same heart and artistry that the band has always brought to the table. The band recorded most of the record live (not in concert, but in a live studio setting) after covering Julien Baker’s song, “Sour Breath,” which results in an acceptably uncomfortable dance between raw, live energy and electronic, production-heavy perfection. Combined, the mix offers a depth to the listening experience that spans beyond mere musical dynamics, and the instruments, depending on the vocal delivery to direct their velocity, are a beautiful driver. With minimalistic verse compositions in songs like “Lines of Your Hands” and “Isn’t It Strange,” Mike Hranica’s poetic vocal delivery cuts through with unique texture that, while it may not boast extraordinary aggression, is felt with close-up emotion.

Largely written by the band’s touring keyboardist, Jonathan Gering, there is no shortage of audio space on The Act. The band’s tasteful use of piano and synth from song to song highlights a reflective, cinematic element that has always had a presence in Prada’s music but never brought this close to center stage. The emotional strength in the melodies, the vivid lyrical content, and the relentless tone of the guitar throughout songs like “Chemical” and “Numb” reinforce the album’s honesty.

Prada’s experimental approach to this record is respectable and meaningful to rock music, and die-hard fans can also rest easy knowing there are still plenty of hard-hitting facets throughout The Act. The guttural screams in “The Thread,” the mean riffs in “Even Though,” and the double-headed punk rock monster of intro and chaotic breakdown in “Spiderhead” keep the thread the band and their history intact; Prada’s roots are clearly still very much alive and possibly hit harder in the context of the less-aggressive majority.

So often, bands are cornered into an idea of “redefining” themselves, when really, they are just expanding their breadth and reach into what is musically possible within a group of people. The Devil Wears Prada has been a behemoth in rock and metal, and The Act is yet another footprint on that path. Though some of the songs on the album feel a bit directionless and perhaps excessive, they are matched by tracks that boast conviction and spirit – and all of those parts are necessary to establish that first new footprint. In an effort to translate live energy from the stage onto a record, Prada took a bold step by trusting that their fans will listen with openness and intention, something to be commended.

Features

Imperial Triumphant - 2021

Alphaville’s Metal Renaissance

With influences that span Miles Davis and Stravinsky to Geddy Lee and Les Claypool, jazz metal force Imperial Triumphant is the epitome of genre-bending. HM contributing writer Andrew Voigt spoke with the band about their unique style, the massive bass presence in their music, and the rise and fall of civilization.

By

Photo by Alex Krauss

Full Feature
Atreyu- 2021

Atreyu's Baptism

At their core, Atreyu is a hard rock band with metal riffs and pop choruses. Now, after more than 20 years, the band has stepped boldly into their next chapter with a change in lineup and an album that proves the lifeblood of Atreyu is stronger than ever.

By

Photo by Ashley Osborn

Full Feature
Heaven's Metal: An Oral History of the Genesis of Christian Metal

Heaven's Metal

When rock emerged from blues and 'heavy metal' began to surface, faith-based metal acts also rose to start their own journeys. Initially shunned by both believers and non-believers, they were fighting for their spot at the table, ultimately building a legacy that would go on to change the genre forever. HM presents an oral history of the beginning of Christian metal music, featuring Guardian, Tourniquet, Holy Soldier, Whitecross, and, of course, Stryper.

By

Full Feature
All Features