The first hint of a newer toughness shows up in “Rumors” when the clean vocals slide in under the third or fourth breakdown (who counts anymore?). The clean vocals are urgent. They have bite and not the Sleeping with Sirens sickness.
“Rumors” is tough and driving, because it needs to be. No self-respecting metalcore skips the Gatling gun kick-drum invitation to headbang. The song follows the Killswitch Engage fronted by King Diamond workout of “Gloom,” but “Rumors” is really the first proper song and the first exposure to the improved TDWP. It’s frenetic even when the clean vocals take over during the melodic refrains.
Scream-meister Mike Hranica manages to keep a wary balance between emotional hyper-emphasis and the dreaded screed of a dental drill. He has a tough job delivering the gospel in flavors suitable for headbangers at that fork in the road to heaven or hell. The title track is striking, with its depiction of ugliness outside the windshield of their travels. Fervent pleas beg answers from an inscrutable God throughout this compact marvel. In two minutes, thirteen seconds, “8:18” says more than any other song on the album.
With keyboardist James Blaney’s departure, Jon Gering played synths on the album. His industrial feel and understated layering doesn’t replace Blaney, but rather adds new power where albums of the past kept a straighter direction. He isn’t afraid of dissonance and noise. “Number Eleven” is the best example of his work in this regard. The song is intriguing. It makes great use of the TDWP’s expansion into the area.
The production gets some of the credit for highlighting 8:18’s dance with the sinister. The mix, though, deserves to be punched in the gut for the lack of gut-punch in the dynamics. Cassettes found in the bottom of dad’s sock drawer have better dynamics than what exists on 8:18. It’s as if space junk fell out of the sky and flattened this thing into the concrete. It’s a cardinal sin considering that The Devil Wears Prada have never made a better album.
8:18 is a very good album, one that lifts The Devil Wears Prada onto a higher cloud. It’s less preachy, more narrative than past efforts. It’s also much less starry-eyed and expresses a bleaker view of this earthly life. In the scope of metalcore, it’s not a groundbreaker like Norma Jean’s Wrongdoers, but it offers what the genre’s fans expect. It burns vinyl, crushes digits, torches tape and has them moshing in front of the pulpit.
(released September 17, 2013 on Roadrunner Records)