RATING: (10 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: September 13th, 2011 LABEL: Ferret Music REVIEWED ON: September 23rd, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Sara NapierREVIEW
When I first heard this band, I knew I’d found a new favorite. Not a group of musicians that could produce a shallow hit that I’d just as soon forget about, this was music I knew would someday mean something to me.
Their first album carried me through some dark times, and the projects to come were always so perfectly placed for each season of life. This was the most intense music I had ever heard. By that, surprisingly I don’t mean the musical arrangements; I mean the lyrics. The album was Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord; the band, The Devil Wears Prada.
If you had a similar experience, back then or with one of the albums along the way, then you’ve anticipated TDWP’s latest project for months just as I have. Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to say that our waiting days are over and Dead Throne is here.
The Devil Wears Prada is easily one of the most recognizable names in several genres. Uniting Christians, nonbelievers, hardcore fans, and aspiring musicians alike, the fan base they draw from is one of the most unique and diverse I’m aware of, even more notably for being such a young band full of members that are equally as young.
The same girl who’s blasting Jay-Z through her car speakers every day might also have every one of The Devil Wears Prada’s albums. The same guy who studies and learns from the arrangements of Beethoven might just as easily know all of the lyrics to “Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over." I can’t say exactly what it is, but there is something you just can’t help but love about this band.
Some could say it’s the passion, the talent or the kindness of the members, but what I know draws me in right away are the lyrics. Lyrically, this album bares a very timely message. It was stated by vocalist Mike Hranica that the album’s theme is anti-idolatry, and he went on to say it is their "heaviest and most aggressive album to date." With all of this I certainly agree.
“Dead Throne” begins with a fading build up. By the time the lyrics come along, the track is already bursting with a serious atmosphere. The song transitions into “Untidaled," a track with a very clever name for its meaning (the band has a history of choosing track names that are as interesting as their music).
“Chicago” is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Fueled mainly by guitar, a steady waltz and the sound of desperation, it‘s such a powerful track. The last minute and a half hits you harder than the composed vocals because of its contrasting smoothness. The intro and end house a simple guitar riff.
My favorite songs on the album may be the ones in the middle, "My Questions" and "Kansas." The smooth finish on "My Questions" sets the stage for the instrumental of "Kansas." To me, on a themed album, track arrangement is just as important as the messages of the songs. This little duo kept it lively and offered a moment to let everything sink in.
Another notable song is “Holdfast." Since it is the last track, one would expect an intricate outro or a brief instrumental. In keeping with the entire album, it is once again the lyrics that stand out, this time by bringing closure:
“I don’t plan on going anywhere without You/ Holdfast/My body was meant to rot, but these words will never pass/Bless the Lord, oh my soul, for these words will never pass.”
I know, with as much hype that’s been building about these guys, this album has a pretty high expectation to live up to. Many critics said it couldn’t top previous projects, and I even read one that said the band had “peaked." So I guess the question is, does Dead Throne live up to the expectations everyone seems to have about it?
Simply put, yes but also no.
The album lives up to the expectations, if you have any. Recently, it has occurred to me that it’s never much of a compliment to real artists to expect certain things from them. To box them in as “hitting the mark” would kind of defeat the purpose of even making the album or having a listen.
Instead, I suggest listening to this album as though you don‘t know what to expect. This is exactly the way I listened to their very first album just a few short years ago--not knowing what to expect, taking from the work everything that was meant to speak to me at the time. To do so, I feel, would really honor the message of the album. With a message that bares such purpose for the world we live in today, I feel this is the only way to truly listen to this album: expecting the unexpected.
It was hard not to automatically favor every song. It was also hard to state just a handful of notable tracks since the album explodes with skillful arrangements, atmosphere and depth from the very beginning. I’m certain there will be people who decide not to like it, though I feel any negative criticism may be completely drowned out by the beauty of their praise. I haven’t given many 10 out of 10’s, but today I am happy to add another to that list.
Just as with Plagues and With Roots Above and Branches Below, this album is another progression from the brilliant band we fell for in the beginning.
Posted on: September 23rd, 2011 PST By: Sara Napier