98. The Devil Wears Prada: With Roots Above and Branches Below

(Ferrett, 2009)

When I first heard The Devil Wears Prada I was dumfounded. It was while jumping from video to video on YouTube, and when this song called “Hey John, What’s Your Name Again” came screaming out of the computer speakers…I was blown away. To this day, I still think Hey John is one of the greatest songs ever to come out of the screamo genre. It had a killer video to boot.

Now I kind of really liked Plagues, TDWP’s sophomore release that brought “Hey John” into the world. And Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord was a solid debut (Dogs Can Wear Bears All Over. Wow. Oh so good.) But With Roots Above and Branches Below, the band seemed to perfect their sound, even if musically it was not a whole lot different than Plagues (Plagues II as some critics have dubbed it).

Certainly, there was the same pattern of scream/clean vocals, with expected breakdowns.

With Roots, there was a turn, albeit slight, for a darker and more aggressive sound. It also spawned some classics, Assistant to the Regional Manager, I Hate Buffering and Ben Had a Kid come to mind. They even broke away from screamo pattern with Louder Than Thunder, a song which was anything but, that showed while TDWP was really a one trick pony, they could successfully break away from the tried and true with favorable results.

One potentially damning piece of evidence was once again the extensive use the keyboards, but somehow it blends nicely into the sound. As the album ends with the last refrains of Lord Xenu, it does so with keyboard. And it doesn’t sound cheesy one bit.

Certainly, the post-With Roots release the Zombie EP was kind of cool, and Dead Throne was a solid, if not spectacular, full-length follow up. Hard to say if the band peaked on this record, but one thing’s for sure: they know how to make great records from start to finish.

TRACK LISTING

1. Sassafras
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
8. Wapakalypse
9. Gimme Half
10. Louder Than Thunder
11. Lord Xenu

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