Pop-metal with a little more edge
Just to get it out of the way early, it should probably be said that The Devil Wears Prada isn’t the kind of band you will find on many metalheads’ top 10 lists. They’re the type of band that usually carries around the pejorative “mall-metal” label. Their musical style has been pretty similar throughout the years: heavy melodic metalcore-style riffs combined with screamo-style vocals and sing-songy choruses. This style had a boom in the early 2000’s, and still maintains some popularity with younger crowds and entry-level metal fans. They’ve garnered themselves a decent level of success and longevity as a Warped Tour metal band, but their sound along with their Christian lyrical themes hasn’t earned them a lot of esteem within metal culture.
The Devil Wears Prada isn’t the worst band amongst the dying metalcore scene, all things considered. For younger listeners first getting into the genre, there is some decent heavy riffage and incorporation of some lower guttural-type growls that can serve as a good gateway into some of the more obscure metal genres. Of course, they’ll probably never be accepted by mainstream metal fans, but considering they’ve managed to maintain a sizeable audience over the years, they probably aren’t too bothered by that.
Their newest release, Transit Blues, does see a continuation of much of the same formula, but also some changes as well. Some of the more generic melodic riffs have been swapped out with more aggressive, down-tuned chugging. The hardcore breakdowns are used more minimally, and don’t feel quite as repetitive. The screamo style vocals are still there, along with some sing-songy choruses, but it seems like the band is choosing to evolve into something a little heavier rather than going in the direction of becoming more poppy.
Of course, “less poppy” for The Devil Wears Prada is still pretty poppy. “Daughter” and “Worldwide” still come across as pop tunes with heavy riffs in the verses. But with songs like “Praise Poison” and “Detroit Tapes”, it does seem like there’s an overarching musical trend that shows a shift in their creative direction. The music feels thrashier and more aggressive, with a hint of raw energy. It still probably won’t help their standing within the metal scene, but it will probably be appealing to those who are already fans of the band.
Overall though, there’s not much on the record that offers anything new in terms of the American metalcore sound. There are some redeeming qualities, but it’s still metal that’s watered down and made more palatable for audiences that aren’t quite ready for the real thing. The Devil Wears Prada will always work best as a gateway band for young fans just starting to get into metal, and that’s not really a bad thing in the end of the day. They won’t go down in the annals of metal history, but they certainly have a place within it.