Review Summary: Improvement doesn't mean that much when you weren't that good to begin with. Oh, and this isn't really that big of an improvement, either.
The Devil Wears Prada have always been a band with bad habits, habits they’ve had a particularly difficult time getting rid of. Fans of the band, some old, some new, praised last year’s Zombie EP
for supposedly eradicating these habits, habits like those awful, invasive keyboard passages, and those notoriously uninspired breakdowns. While the Zombie EP
didn’t have anything as gimmicky or hilariously out of place as some aspects of the band’s previous work, it was still, to be frank, pretty boring. But however small, it was still a step in the right direction, and thus, left me wondering how big their next step was going to be.
With their latest offering, Dead Throne,
The Devil Wears Prada has officially traded being frustratingly awful for being frustratingly average. Yes, it is technically an improvement, but hardly a significant one. Rather than awkwardly transitioning from dull breakdown to terrible synth passage and back again, the songs on Dead Throne
consistently chug along through a neutral-colored haze of mediocrity, boasting their proficiency at being listenable, but never really that interesting.
Yes, the riffs are still disappointingly uncreative, and the breakdowns, though fortunately fewer in number, are just as mind-numbing as ever. But those aren’t the main contributors to the album’s monotony, the real problem lies in the album’s extreme lack of dynamics, a lack of dynamics created
by all the uninspired riffing. There’s hardly a passage on the album that has any real power or emotion, because there’s no build-ups, climaxes, or calm-downs. What you see is what you get with Dead Throne;
when you hear a riff at the beginning of a song, that’s as loud and powerful as it’s ever gonna get. The only song that actually layers different sounds, adding more and more until the song finally peaks, is “Chicago,” which, incidentally, is the best song on the album. It’s the only song on the album that actually makes me feel
something, and the vocalist’s screams actually sound quite nice against the atmospheric guitar backdrop. The growls still sound a tad awkward though, which is another kink the band really needs to work out of their formula.
Another negative aspect of the album is the fact that virtually all its ambition, especially in terms of musicianship, lies in short, insignificant passages. Dead Throne
only has quirky,
nothing truly impressive. The trade-off between the guitar and bass near the end of “Untidaled” is cool, it’s too bad it only lasts a few seconds and really adds nothing to the song as a whole. Same with the dissonance in the ending breakdown of “Mammoth,” and the almost-actually-memorable intros to “Vengeance” and “My Questions.” All of the good parts end too soon, only to once again drown in a sea of chug.
The songs on Dead Throne
aren’t bad, they’re just very, very dull. All the things the songs consist of are laid out for all to see at the very beginning, leaving no surprises, and no special treats at the end. This would be a tad more acceptable if the sounds the songs consisted of weren’t so generic, but unfortunately, save for a number of quirks (you could also call them teases), I practically feel like I’ve already heard these songs before. Dead Throne
is indeed dead, an album with practically nothing to look forward to, and nothing to look back on, remembering fondly. But hey, it’s an improvement.