Don't bother trying to find a Christian message in The Devil Wears Prada's brand new Zombie EP. Apart from the fact that Mike Hranica's vocals are almost completely indecipherable without a list of lyrics at your nose, the concept for this album is a complete joke. The effect is intentional, don't you worry. These boys aren't stupid; they're just having a bit of fun. "The whole thing is just completely based upon zombies. Last fall, I was on a real zombie kick. I read The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, and I thought, 'What if we made a zombie song?' All it took was me just saying that to the band, and we had our hearts set on doing this EP," said Hranica in a recent Ferret press release. This is essentially all you need to know.
Though the lyrics are less than poetic, the music edges on ideal forward progression. Even with the staggering improvement of With Roots Above and Branches Below behind them, they manage to take the good and make it better. A thunder storm introduces the lunacy that awaits, but the phrase "full tilt" has grown a whole new meaning with the opening track, "Escape." The first you get to hear of the newest TDWP is also the heaviest they've ever written. Within the fiery fusillade is a noticeable upgrade to Hranica's vocals. His applied range has increased, leaping from high sweeps to abysmal lows much more profoundly than in the past. In addition, his mid to high screams have slid just in between his usual rasp and a hardcore yell, adding considerable flavor to the band's vocal-heavy format.
Moving on to "Anatomy," try to hold on to your hats, folks. This little five track EP has as much or more energy than Roots and Branches in its entirety. They go for the gold in brutality. Breakdowns abound, but by no means do they hold the music's momentum. In a wise method of improvement, they take popular influence on this album, infusing Slayer-esque guitar riffs and admittedly Hatebreed-like speed and tempo.
"Outnumbered" begins with a clever faux news report stressing that "this is not a test; this is not a joke." Ironically, the entire album is a joke. The seriousness of the music remains intact, nevertheless. By "Revival," you should have heard a few tastes of guitarist Jeremy DePoyster's well known clean vocals. They let the old flame burn as his voice soars sky-high, but there is new and notably successful experimentation taking place as well. Integrated piano riffs haunt the background of several tracks. Breakdowns sneak up from nowhere and intense buildups descend into pretty choruses. Unconventional. They keep us on our toes.
The first four tracks focus on detailed descriptions of the "disease" from multiple aspects, bringing you up to speed with their version of the already popular zombie concept. However, the final track, "Survivor" regales us with a tale of "one of the last few standing;" a specific man's story of loss and loneliness.
The Zombie EP packs a heck of a punch in a very accessible amount of time, and conjures up very good feelings about TDWP's future endeavors. Expanded and improved showmanship and musicianship are a key exploit to be sure, but it's the passion fueling a nearly satirical album that daunts me. The Zombie EP is a tempered steel doorstop holding open the way for TDWP's subsequent full-length.- Review date: 8/22/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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