Written by: Continuous Thunder
When I learned that The Devil Wears Prada was going to release a sequel to their Zombie EP, I was equally excited and apprehensive. It’s no secret that I consider the Zombie EP to be among the band’s best releases and that it might very well be their best release overall. Returning to the subject of the zombie apocalypse is an intriguing prospect, but the sequel has big shoes to fill. The concern is compounded when you consider that the last release from the band was The Act in 2019, where the band made a significant shift in their sound towards an allegedly more mature post-hardcore. While that album received almost universal acclaim from critics, it wasn’t all that exciting to me, personally and it was ultimately disappointing. Would ZII (read “zee two,” or “zed two” if you’re from any country other than the US) return to the undead wasteland and observe it through this new, breakdown-less lens, or would the band try to go back 11 years and recapture the blistering fury of the original?
Surprisingly, the answer is neither. ZII is a far more brutal affair than The Act, and while it is closer to the first Zombie EP stylistically, it doesn’t have the same relentless thrash. It has its fast moments, but the heaviness of ZII comes more from the head-banging, stank face-inducing, mid-tempo breakdown grooves. This isn’t a mall scene time capsule either, The Devil Wears Prada has integrated some of the modern trends in metalcore. The guitar tone has picked up some of the “skronk” popular among more progressive metalcore bands like Haken, and their electronics provide more of an industrial feel like you’d get from a band like Code Orange. They add these modern touches but still remain undeniably Prada, delivering what I believe to be a far more effective evolution of their style than what was presented on The Act.
Lyrically, things are a little different this time around as well. While the first Zombie EP was inspired by zombie apocalypse media in general, ZII is not-so-subtly inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the song “Contagion,” you have mentions of a virus and disease throughout the EP. They also give you some hints at their views on the reaction to the outbreak with lyrics like “Humanity mismanaged the gravity of the virus” in “Forlorn” and mentions of “an offering for the economy” in “Termination.” There’s a noticeable shift in tone by the end of the EP as well. The Zombie EP was rather bleak and hopeless, with one track even saying “all is lost.” ZII, on the other hand, ends with a glimmer of hope with vocalist Mike Hranica declaring “Just come with your might/Ready to fight/Down to the wire/We must upset the sickness” in the closing track. I imagine this tonal change comes as a result of actually living through a worldwide health crisis and recognizing how important and valuable hope is in these situations.
Does ZII live up to the original Zombie EP? I can’t really say definitively yes or no, and only time will tell if it leaves a similar lasting impression. However, I can say that it’s the first release from The Devil Wears Prada that has excited me and that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in a very long time; quite possibly since the first Zombie EP came out back in 2010! Revisiting such a highly regarded release is a very bold move and a surprisingly effective way to offer commentary on real-world events. It’s a welcome return to form, and I can’t say much else other than everything went much, much better than expected.
The Devil Wears Prada - ZII was released on May 21, 2021, on Solid State Records
Continuous Thunder reviews even more music both inside and outside the realm of metal on his own blog, conveniently entitled Continuous Thunder. Now that you're done reading this, you should head over there and check it out!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!