In the five years since The Devil Wears Prada released their career-defining Zombie EP, the band has been on an auditory journey to find the next step in metalcore evolution. The band teamed with Adam Dutkiewicz for the explosive Dead Throne in 2011 before adding Matt Goldman to the mix for 8:18 in 2013.
While the former took another step toward perfecting the modern metalcore sound, 8:18’s experimentation seemed to alienate a portion of the band’s core fan base, even as it found the group on the brink of a necessary sonic shift. Now, having returned to their original home at Rise Records, The Devil Wears Prada find themselves at a crossroads. Do they return to their tried and true roots or forge ahead in a new direction.
The answer is, a little of both.
The Space EP makes sense for the band on every conceptual level, even before you press play. After the 20 minute record is complete, it’s clear, once again, that The Devil Wears Prada are one of the most unique, innovative and talented heavy bands in the scene.
What made the Zombie EP so spectacular, aside from the band’s sudden ability to unleash a devastating wall of pulverizing guitar riffs, was their knack for creating an apocalyptic environment that felt authentic. What could have been the cheesiest release of the decade turned out to be one of the most crushing and terrifying.
As it turns out, it wasn’t a fluke. Whereas the Zombie EP captured the palpable chaos of the living dead run amok by doubling down on dual riffs and blistering drums, the Space EP expands, allowing for long notes and spacey electronics in deep, intentional breaths. The opening chords and patient drums during the blastoff of “Planet A” sound of a completely different band.
This time around, The Devil Wears Prada is much less concerned with pummeling you six feet underground and more determined to lift you off of it. Zombie found vocalist Mike Hranica shredding his throats with the roars of the undead, but in Space, his voice pleads into the void. On “Planet A” he wrestles with the dark side of discovery, crying, “Mankind searched the universe / Curiosity can be a curse”.
While Hranica is as impressive as he’s been in years, it’s Jeremy DePoyster who steals the show on many of the tracks. Through the years, DePoyster has often been reserved for one-liners in pivotal moments, but on Space, he sings alongside Hranica’s screams and is given huge, haunting choruses. His massive refrain of “Where will you go? / Where will you be? / When you forever sleep? / When you leave me? / If we could just say here / Lose track of time / I would be just fine / In a galactic sea” on “Supernova” is one of the EP’s defining moments.
The closest the band comes to Zombie is a track titled “Alien” wherein the Hranica describes the anatomy of massive, demonic extraterrestrial beings closing in on planet earth. Clocking in at under three minutes, the track features multiple signature breakdowns that cease to relent until Hranica’s final scream of “We are done for!”
Space’s best track is “Moongod”, a surprisingly delicate and atmospheric song that sounds reminiscent of “Chicago” on Dead Throne, but with much more personality. The chorus trade-off between Hranica and DePoyster crescendos into a soaring finish. “Celestial Mechanics” takes a page out of Underoath’s book with a short synth-driven interlude seeking to capture the complexity of space and time, but the track ends far too quickly.
The tale ends with “Asteroid”, which finds Hranica wrestling with impending doom as he cries, “Say goodbye one last time, as the Earth will be no more / All aflame and destroyed, all aflame and destroyed / It’s funny how we once fought / It’s funny how we didn’t care / Consider what we could have been”. Whether this is a fictional tale to end a concept record or a call to consider the ramifications of our choices before it’s too late is up to you to decide.
Although I found myself wishing for more (Space is shorter than Zombie, despite having an additional track), it’s difficult to fault the band for brevity in this context. The Space EP is another memorable experience and solidifies The Devil Wears Prada as one of the most creative metalcore bands in recent memory. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another five years for their next saga.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.