The Devil Wears Prada
With Roots Above and Branches Below


2.5
average

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (108 Reviews)
April 24th, 2009 | 1159 replies | 68,372 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Devil Wears Prada shatters all expectations by refusing to improve at all.

35 of 54 thought this review was well written

The appeal of The Devil Wears Prada is boggling. As a group that is part of an elite set of bands that are idolized by thick-rimmed hipsters, and drooled over by skinny-jeaned fangirls, it is obvious that they have maintained a status of marginal success over time. The problem is not the scene-girls, and the problem is not that half of their fan base are only listening because it makes them feel 'hardcore' (not a generalization), but the problem is that The Devil Wears Prada don't make good music. The rehashed melodies (ala Underoath), and the repetitive breakdowns (ala As I Lay Dying) get more homogenous after every listen. The sheer mediocrity of the band is disconcerting -- how does something so average get so popular? Luckily for the band, The Devil Wears Prada's 2007 release 'Plagues' showed promise -- the band was not technically proficient, and the album couldn't hold the attention span of any remotely sane person for more than thirty seconds, but the band wasn't bad; they were just really boring. Naturally, Plagues only gave the band room to improve.

So, what has the Devil Wears Prada done in the two years since Plagues?

The answer to that question, regrettably, is nothing. Mike Hranica's jarringly atrocious and forgettable vocals are still widely unvaried and obnoxious, which aren't helped by the fact that his screams and faux-growls are way too loud in the production. Also painfully present in the record are the overused and insipid breakdowns that "plagued" (ha!) their previous work. Jeremy DePoyster's soaring and ultimately pleasant clean vocals is marred by predictable melodies and lack of variability, which is a disappointment because while his vocals are an obvious highlight in nearly every song (Dez Moines in particular), his melodies are as repetitious as everything else that happens on the all-too-long 40 minutes of this record.

One of the selling points (or selling gimmicks, depending on who you ask) of The Devil Wears Prada is the presence of keyboarder/pianist James Baney. Unfortunately, during the record he is either overexerting himself or underutilizing his presence -- in all the wrong moments, his jarring synth pads will bleed through the colorless harmonic minor riffs of Chris Rubey. Most of the pads and keyboard-work, in an effort to play up the epic nature of many of their songs, only distract and confuse the listener. Meanwhile, in the almost pleasant Assistant to the Regional Manager (referencing The Office is probably the only commendable thing they've done), his croaking keyboard loops seep through during a breakdown or two and sound actually nice. There are a few moments on the album like this, where they finally tighten up their sporadic sound and create something memorable (the chorus of Danger: Wildman), but unfortunately these tolerable moments are over before you can really appreciate them.

Allow me to dwell on the few acceptable tracks on the record. Lead single Dez Moines and Assistant to the Regional Manager provide soaring melodies and don't overdose too heavily on the chugging, providing a marginally tolerable listening experience. Another honorable mention is the glitchy breakdown of Lord Xenu, that bounces between right and left speakers in an electronic temper tantrum. Explosive opener Sassafras blasts off the record strikingly (and deceptively), while the record's strongest song, Danger: Wildman, showcases catchy melodies, anthemic synth lines and perhaps most surprisingly, an extended and restrained electronic interlude (ala Underoath) complete with preachy lyrics and campy keyboards -- but it's really almost nice.

The little acceptable moments sprinkled throughout the album yet again give the band hope for the future and manage to save With Roots Above and Branches Below from being a completely abysmal suck-fest. Unfortunately, for the time being, it's depressingly evident that progress is something The Devil Wears Prada is strongly opposed to, and they suffer immensly because of it. Frankly, these guys are just really good at being average. Here's to another musical dud of an album, boys. Cheers.



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user ratings (1467)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • River Tam (1.5)
    With Monotony Above and Mediocrity Below...

    nazcapilot (3.5)
    Although, With Roots Above and Branches Below doesn't reinvent the wheel, it is still ...

    Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration (3.5)
    This is best thought of as the metalcore equivalent of candy: there is absolutely no subst...

    Curanza (5)
    The Album shows refinement and advancement from Plagues. The guitar work is tighter, and d...

  • peterbraa (3.5)
    The Devil Wears Prada's new release. Overall this album is worth a listen to with some gre...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
April 24th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Stream can be found here: http://www.shockhound.com/albums/276703-the-devil-wears-prada-mp3s-with-roots-above-and-branches-below?cm_re=Homepage-_-TR+Panel-_-Devil+Wears+Prada

Don't get mad me for only listening to it five times before reviewing -- I can honestly say that there's nothing here that will grow on me or change my opinion on it.
This Message Edited On 04.24.09

ninjuice
April 25th 2009



6761 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review man.
One thing:

Jeremy DePoyster's soaring and ultimately pleasant clean vocals are marred by predictable memories

Is it memories or melodies? The former doesn't quite make sense to me.

Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

Waior
April 25th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Is it memories or melodies? The former doesn't quite make sense to me.


Haha! You're right, that doesn't make any sense at all. Fixed.

rasputin
April 25th 2009



14517 Comments


Don't get mad me for only listening to it five times before reviewing

Five times is more than enough.

upagainstthewall
April 25th 2009



838 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Gee you pumped this out in no time! Awesome review, argee word for word.

Waior
April 25th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Five times is more than enough.


I don't know if I can get through this album once. Good job on five times.


I couldn't agree more. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't miss anything.

Gee you pumped this out in no time! Awesome review, argee word for word.


I'm speedy. I needed to warn the world ASAP.

This Message Edited On 04.24.09

ninjuice
April 25th 2009



6761 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ninjuice awesome avatar

Haha it's nice to see we can agree on something.
Five times is more than enough

Thirded.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2009



20855 Comments


Very good review Caleb. Well done.

Waior
April 25th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Haha. I'm always startled when I'm referred by name, Davey. Then I realize that it's at the top of every review I write. Whoops.

But thanks. I can finally say I'm comfortable writing reviews.

Looking around, I realize that you remind me of the nice primary school principal who learns every one of his student's names! This Message Edited On 04.24.09

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2009



17920 Comments


the word you're looking for in the first paragraph is mediocrityThis Message Edited On 04.25.09

Waior
April 25th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I forgot that word existed. Thanks!

Edit: fixed.
This Message Edited On 04.25.09

taylormemer
April 25th 2009



4913 Comments


^^
Indeed.

Essence
April 25th 2009



3578 Comments


couple of typos and grammar disagreements here and there but overall a job well done

Waior
April 25th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

couple of typos and grammar disagreements here and there but overall a job well done


tell me tell me. must fix

itchyandscratchy
April 25th 2009



314 Comments


band are meh but not the awful band that many make them out to be

sspedding
April 25th 2009



4751 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Completely disagree with the average comments, I can see a great deal of improvement in this from Plagues. I think the first half of the album is fairly forgettable but I've heard some real gems towards the end of the album. The album is altogether a little bit predictable at certain points but to say they have plateaued i think is pretty unfounded.

sspedding
April 25th 2009



4751 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

however another thing i agree with is Mike Hranica's vocals. They aint very good really.

Captain North
April 25th 2009



6779 Comments


So far I actually don't mind this. Although, the clean vocals...is it the same dude from AILD? Because it bloody sound likes it.

Phantom
April 25th 2009



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Tried to listen to this last night, got as far as the second song then gave up.

Golgoroth
April 25th 2009



1084 Comments


In the middle of the first song and I'm thinking 3.

Really good review btw, Waior.

This Message Edited On 04.25.09



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