On past records, The Devil Wears Prada seemed to shine when they let their softer side showcase: Plagues was better when the band let the keys breathe, when the quieter counterpart to the aggressive sound was featured and could open up songs. Not a lot has changed with that opinion on The Devil Wears Prada’s third full-length release, With Roots Above and Branches Below. The over-arching problem is that With Roots Above isn’t breaking a ton of new ground.
When I first started listening, I loved the fact that the Dayton, OH band brought it from the start. “Sassafras” starts with four drum clicks and then BOOM – the shotgun blasts start happening. But as I kept listening, it felt more like the songs were running together. I was listening, but most of the tracks were turning up forgettable; they weren’t making me stop and go remember the name of the song or the track number.
All this up until the track “Louder Than Thunder” shook me from my daze. (By the way, that’s track 10 of 11.) It feels like it could have been added in as a transition track (the last line of the song “What would it take for things to be quiet?” is directly followed by the intense screams and guitars of “Lord Xenu”), but it’s a very beautiful, lamenting piece. On With Roots Above, I would have liked to have seen the band take this ambient approach. It would have been cool to see TDWP drop one or two more of these ambient pieces into place, completing a package. The band shows these glimpses – they could have easily used their keys with their current songwriting to create a beautiful, aggressive, brooding, metal record. Instead, I felt like I listened to a number of forgettable tracks. The seasoning should never be what the entrée was remembered for. For fans of Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety.