ARTIST: I PREVAIL
LABEL: FEARLESS RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Rising to recognition with an oh so different cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’, Michigan metalcore specialists I Prevail have managed to build such a strong reputation in five years – something that can take other punk and metal outfits five lifetimes to achieve. Since their debut EP ‘Heart vs Mind’, they have worked hard and worked long on getting the sound – or sounds – that suited them to perfection. Being signed to Fearless, a record label known for bringing the best of the rock scene to the world’s attention, should be enough to convince anyone that I Prevail are a band to believe in. And their latest record ‘Trauma’ wipes away any doubt left in what this band can do.
The standout track on the album is the nu-metal inspired single, ‘Paranoid’. The song strikes so close to the musical heart its similarities to the early years of nu-metal legends Linkin Park. There is a fine line between “inspired by” and “in the style of”, and luckily the band took the former. It’s always best to give a hint of inspiration and taking on board the sounds and styles they feel spark their creative side to the max; because this way, they can switch and swap the elements and make it work so they have their originality. With how close to their comfort zone ‘Paranoid’ is, the beat drops break apart the comfortability and give them a new challenge. Guess what? They won the challenge, and a great deal of that is due to the partnership in song between the clean and unclean vocalists, Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe. Playing off each other a la Bennington and Shinoda style, it seems that the outfit’s music inspired them on a deeper level than just the sound and the beats.
“wipes away any doubt left in what this band can do.”
The opening track for the album, ‘Bow Down’, is another powerful example of how the two vocalists are able to bounce off of each other and use each other’s talents to make a song superb. The best phrase to describe this would be, “a healthy balance” because balancing out the more harmonic vocals with the deeper, rougher, more aggressive vocals is what makes a metal tune weigh down in the best way.
Burkheiser’s vocals slot into the track when he takes over the mic so well, as he takes the duty of bringing the words to the choruses. The strength comes when the bridge of the song begins. As the music accompanying him settles, soothes, and begins to build itself back from the ground up, it doesn’t only show off his vocal talent – it gives the guitars and drums their first chance to show off and shine in the heaviest way (which works). One shall never forget that instruments still make the band whole, and if the best work can begin to be shown off from the first track of a 13-track album, then there sure is a treat for the listeners as the songs play on, and the range is unveiled for every single member, not just the frontmen of the collective.
“the lyrics speak straight into the soul…”
What’s just as powerful as starting off unforgettably? Closing the chapter in the same fashion! The album comes to its end with the heartstring-yanking, tear-threatening ballad ‘I Don’t Belong Here’. Taking an approach on the softer side of the I Prevail’s spectrum, the lyrics speak straight into the soul but words need a background to provoke what they wish to. The fascinating foundation of an acoustic guitar and the striking notes of a piano will bring on this new sense; this relaxant for the listener after a wild ride of a record.
Fading away with piano pings and gentle synth sounds, this is how the band suitably winds down themselves and their fans: “the fun is over, now it’s time to go to sleep”. Taking on a lack of belonging and confusion of one’s place in the world, I Prevail finish off making everyone think about them as a band, their career, and then their own place in this world. But truth be told, everyone belongs here – and I Prevail belong in this industry. The ‘Trauma’ is over for now.