For their seventh full-length, Ohio metalcore stalwarts the Devil Wears Prada took a brave leap forward with the standout statement The Act. Aiming for reinvention, the group pushed genre boundaries with expanded atmospherics, extreme detail, and deeper sentiments that packed an emotionally satisfying wallop. Continuing their evolution from 2016's Transit Blues, The Act is an exercise in patience and restraint that builds to ethereal heights while maintaining that familiar visceral assault that has defined the band since their mid-2000s inception. Graduating to official producer status, keyboardist Jonathan Gering not only handles those duties but also song- and lyric-writing. The results of this focus are a fuller, richer experience that is powerfully effective. In addition to a precision attack by the band -- bassist Andy Trick, guitarist Kyle Sipress, and drummer Giuseppe Capolupo -- vocalists Jeremy DePoyster and Mike Hranica deliver some of the best performances of their careers, balancing their vocal extremes to maximum effect. The harmonic combination of their screaming and singing, along with the varied instrumental attack and production flourishes, gives The Act an elevated, mature air similar to the Deftones, which further marks it as a major milestone in TDWP's development. This stylistic progress is most apparent on tracks like the atmospheric "Please Say No," which swells amidst a tempest of pained howls and gorgeous singing as the band builds to a cathartic breaking point, and the standout "Numb," another beautiful cut that also grinds and saws to the core. Tapping into adjacent genres, TDWP toy with industrial mayhem on "Isn't It Strange" and also employ vocalist Sierra for a welcome feminine touch on the melodic "Lines of Your Hands." While there are plenty of highlights on the album, The Act is most rewarding as a full listening experience, which reveals fresh layers and complex nuances with each subsequent spin. With such intentional execution, the band nailed their target on The Act, a defining moment in their catalog.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung