Overall Score: 3/10 Invention: 3/10 Ballads: 1/10 Glucose Levels: 10/10 Pros: The first two songs are half decent Cons: A cynically minded album built to exploit fans | Drab songwriting and tawdry balladry
When you use the term ‘metalcore’ you open up a can of worms. There are those who will interpret the term as meaning Integrity, Botch, Converge et al, then other who perceive the genre as being the post-Killswitch crop of bands like Architects or Parkway Drive. Either way, arguments are going to ensue as to what is “proper” metalcore – it’s the former FYI. It is a battle that rages to this day, but on purely commercial terms, the latter of the two camps are winning. Bands like Trivium, Asking Alexandria and indeed, The Devil Wears Prada have all seen the most successful portions of their career spent in the divisive category. Some peers of the genre have moved on however, and it feels as though modern metalcore has had its day in the sun. Sticking mostly to the formula, The Devil Wears Prada bring us their seventh LP, The Act.
The deathcore influence on track six, The Thread is the only real deviation from the metalcore formula on this album, but even then it only dips its toes into the muddy waters of deathcore. There is little by way of sonic experimentation on The Act, but is that such a bad thing? The band have made their name with a signature sound – that countless others just so happen to have too – so why stray from the well trodden path when you can give the fans what they want and expect? Well, it speaks to a level of comfort, resting on the laurels of previous conquest that is not conducive to great art, and anyone trying to proclaim this album as anything better than good is enjoying a substance that it would be rude not to share.
The Devil Wears Prada are woeful at balladry. Isn’t It Strange? is a lumpen, saccharine piece of songwriting that aims to tug at the heartstrings but ends up leaving the listener cold and unfulfilled. It lacks any real emotional weight, wallows in cynical self pity and is a drab almost-three minutes. It is swiftly followed up by Diamond Lost, a similarly dispassionate number that trades on well worn clichés of the diamond in the rough, as if any woman should find this in any way complimentary. If this song was written for you you’d be left waiting for the earth to swallow you up so as to avoid expressing the regret you have for the penman of this tawdry affair. Things reach their absolute nadir with the furor inducing As Kids, a song so sickly and dripping in false nostalgia it leaves you wanting to relive a memory of before you heard it.
There are positives to be found in this album however. The opening salvo of Switchblade and lead single, Lines Of Your Hands are positively electrifying compared to what comes in their wake. The former song in particular has meaty, muscular riffing that invokes the very best of the controversial subgenre, while the latter has poppy hooks that work their way straight into the serotonin releasing Raphe nuclei. The songs are a delight and start the album out in fine fettle, but come Chemical, all the pace drops from the record: All the momentum, good will and favour curried are dissipated by the painfully poor latter two thirds.
So this isn’t a great album. There could be numerous reasons as to why it is that the spark of creativity wasn’t there when The Devil Wears Prada set about crating their seventh opus, but the most reasonable guess to hazard is that they thought they could pull the wool over people’s eyes and pretend like they still care. They have a devoted fan base filled with individuals enamoured with the band’s output who will almost certainly buy/steam this record regardless of this review – or any other for that matter – but there is nothing sincere, intelligent or inventive about this album. It is not created for art’s sake, it surely only exists as a way to line the coffers and fulfill a contractual obligation. Everyone involved in the writing of this album should be thoroughly ashamed. The only positives to take away are that the first few tracks are quite good, and they’ve continued to avoid titling their songs things like HTML Rulez D00d.