It Dies Today
Bring Me the Horizon
As I Lay Dying
2. I Hate Buffering
3. Assistant to the Regional Manager
4. Dez Moines
5. Big Wiggly Style
6. Danger: Wildman
7. Ben Has a Kid
9. Gimme Half
10. Louder Than Thunder
11. Lord Xenu
Your RatingCreate an account or log in to rate this album
The Devil Wears Prada are back with their third full length in three years. Their debut, Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord, served as a worthy introduction to the band but was a bit rough around the edges. A year later they released Plagues, which received much deserved critical acclaim because of the much better songwriting and greatly improved vocals. The success of this album lead to the band signing with Ferret Music in 2008 who have helped them release their latest effort, With Roots Above and Branches Below.
The new offering marks the next chapter in The Devil Wears Prada’s career; the band is older, more musically mature, and is becoming comfortable with the sound they’ve developed. With Roots Above and Branches Below is a logical, albeit safe, progression for The Devil Wears Prada. The songs are similar to Plagues, with guttural screams from Mike Hranica and soothing singing from Jeremy Depoysive, all mixed in with traditional metalcore riffs and pummeling breakdowns.
Some will argue that the album could be Plagues – Part II, and while that’s not totally incorrect, there are improvements from the band’s previous releases that are more obvious with repeated listens. Musically, the band is tighter than ever and the songs are faster, more aggressive, and possess a larger feel to them in comparison to their previous work. Also, the majority of the songs are all equally enjoyable, as there are not too many that stand out as being particularly better or worse than the others.
“Dez Moines” bucks the previous statement, however, and is definitely the standout track on the album. It is an excellent song that encompasses the new improvements to The Devil Wears Prada’s writing style. The song starts out with alternating singing and screaming before turning into a buildup to one of the better breakdowns on the album. Throughout the song the keyboards experiment with almost techno-like sounds instead of the typical approach the band takes utilizing this particular instrument; this creates an awesome dynamic that doesn’t get used nearly enough on the album. “Ben Has a Kid” is another noteworthy track, with a beautiful melodic riff used in the chorus that makes you wonder why the band doesn’t write more parts like it. All of the songs are worth listening to, though, and feature at least one section or another that is worth repeated spins, whether it’s the A Life Once Lost styled riffs in “Danger: Wildman” or the killer guitar melodies in “I Hate Buffering” – there’s something to enjoy for everyone.
The dual vocal delivery is still stellar most of the time, but it doesn’t seem as strong as it did on Plagues. To start, Hranica’s screams have changed since the last album. It doesn’t sound like a deliberate change, but more of a physical one – most likely from consistent touring. The higher notes aren’t quite as piercing as before and the deeper growls are weak at times, although those have never been one of his strengths. Depoysive’s singing also suffers but it’s more because of the way they were recorded rather than his natural ability. The singing is layered with effects for some reason and sounds inferior when compared to the previous recordings.
Although The Devil Wears Prada have put together a solid third release and improved on some of the issues with Plagues, it’s not quite as effective as their previous album and suffers from repetition. Hopefully next time around the band will incorporate more of the varied synth sounds they experimented with on this release, as well as continue to improve their guitar melodies and songwriting. Despite the issues with this release, The Devil Wears Prada have proved once again why they are one of the better current metalcore bands.