When The Devil Wears Prada’s 8:18 was released in September 2013 I was in the middle of moving countries (from Belgium to South Africa) and I cannot believe that I only found out about their fifth studio album a year after its release. It says a lot about how busy my life was back then as I’ve been a TDWP fan since the release of Plagues in 2007. Needless to say, finding 8:18 on my path was a nice surprise.
In my review of Dead Throne I expressed my concern that TDWP was losing its distinctive sound to a more mainstream metalcore feel. Before Dead Throne TDWP was easily recognisable based on their synth sounds, but those seemed to have moved to the back too much. Despite the leaving of pianist James Baney, the electronics get a much more prominent spot on 8:18 and that is a good thing.
“Gloom” sets the tone for the heavy and brutal sound that is to follow. “Rumors” is the highlight of 8:18 with it’s amazing drums and guitars. The triplets in the overwhelming intro make such a powerful sound that I want to start an on-the-spot pit in my living room. “Sailor’s Prayer” and “Martyrs” also have that great speed and drive to them. The album ends in beauty with the strong “In Heart.”
Much more than previous albums, TDWP also chose to go for a melodic approach free of the brutality. “War” and title track “8:18” are examples of that. They are pretty good songs, but it makes me feel like I’m listening to Underoath and that is not what I want from TDWP.
Lyrically, singer Mike Hranica was inspired by Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV). The album is a challenging balancing act between current desperation, failure and fear on the one hand, and future glory on the other hand. It seems however that the album would have been better called 8:18a, as the focus clearly lies on the suffering and the darkness around.
Already in the song titles it becomes clear that Hranica does not longer have the creativity from Plagues and With Roots Above And Branches Below and that is visible in the lyrics as well. They are not bad, but also not that great either. I did very much appreciate Hranica’s meta-perspective in “Transgress”: “With seven plagues / And some roots, and a throne / I’m back at where I started.” Clearly a reference to the previous three studio albums.
8:18 is a record I have enjoyed listening to and have played several times already, but both lyrically and musically it just doesn’t have TDWP’s original creativity. That is a pity because they used to be a band that really stood out in the massive crowd of metalcore albums. Not any more, besides a few exceptions.
The Devil Wears Prada – 8:18 (Roadrunner, 2013)