"Transit Blues" is a product reflecting the bands new found living situation, the clash of instruments reflecting the LA six-piece's new found shared-creativity.
Intro song "Praise Poison" immediately kicks the album off with a classic snare and breakdown-friendly discord, immediately reassuring fans who may have had any doubts about the band maintaining their blueprint, the pinch-harmonics and distressed cries of Mike Hranica as prevalent as ever. The song never seems to get out of 3rd gear though, but that cannot be said for following song and lead single "Daughter", that races along in the song's early exchanges before descending into a slower, chugged section.
The transition between pace and space, discord and anthem is a consistent feature and appropriately captured by producer Dan Korneff, whose work with Motionless In White can be heard here, as the band explore a variety of sounds and echoes alongside their classic synth-and-savagery style.
"Worldwide" is an early highlight, a powerful chorus backed by chugging, head-driving riffs providing the album with a melodic benchmark amongst the dirt.
The dischord returns with "Lock and Load", an echoey, though almost meandering song that promises much with the slimy intro but never descends into the chaos you're hoping for in the opening notes.
There is genuine beauty and musical vulnerability in the lighter "Flyover States", where a cavernous guitar tone matches excellently with Hranica's vocals before melting into a deliciously heavy riffed segment - the transition between the emotive and the bludgeoning really works here - the structure making for a powerful listen reminiscent of Northlane and Suicide Season era-BMTH.
"Detroit Tapes" returns the balance back towards the throat punchingly heavy, the verse driving along at a head-nodding groove while the lead-sectioned pre-chorus offers a refreshing addition of high-pitched guitar notes, typically forgotten among the usually restrictive deathcore genre.
"The Condition" opens like the "radio push" song but don't be deceived - quickly moving into a stabbed, guttural section before percussively exploding towards the clearest chorus on the album thus far, with the breakdown riff inspiring more than a few circle pit elbow swingers in due course.
The album continues to grow, with the clearest production and gutteral riff combination being found in the first minute of "To The Key Of Evergreen", a brutally enjoyable cacophony of kick-drum and bent strings. The depth of songwriting is on show on here, with a intriguing change of pace found in the middle of the song, a clean-picked, group vocal section separating the early heaviness to this new-found, ethereal collection of tones. It concludes the song beautifully, the final crescendo a soaring combination of chords; both vocal and stringed, producing a forceful finish.
"Submersion" follows, a chug-heavy but not particularly memorable 4 minute filler before the more intriguing "Home For The Grave" reaches the ears. A solemn, melancholy introduction promises a deeper, intrinsic look at human emotion but the sung/spoken lyrics over the top sound off-key and highlight the rather cliche'd personification of nature - "she wished the trees weren't so still/as if the pines could weep" has this writer habitually rolling his eyes. So the trees can't cry if they move? Are they sad because they can't move? To be honest moving trees would distract from whatever difficulty you were going through. Shout to you, weeping trees.
The title track is a much more like-able directional shift, TDWP pinning their title to what they do well - write and perform heavy riffs that get your neck gyrating. "Transit Blues" moves along at a jolting, occasionally blistering pace and an expansive chorus sound displays the sort of demographic TDWP successfully appeal to - pissed off young men and women happy to lose teeth in the good name of metal.
In totality, Devil Wears Prada's newest opus does very little to move the brand of band further - if you like DWP's sound, style and energy, then you'll enjoy this version of them as you'll be reminded of the sounds they can produce when they're committed to whirling circle pits into a frenzy. However, for this writer, "Transit Blues" doesn't do enough - it threatens a good time but never really gets there long enough, instead spending too much time messily transitioning from slow sections that sound like breakdowns recorded in a bathroom than the American studio we were told they worked in.
"Transit Blues" is by no means a bad album, but doesn't fill the speaker with the blood-tinged spittle previous releases from the LA group have before. Devil Wears Burberry, perhaps?
Words: Sam Lewis