I Prevail are getting ready for LP #2, ‘Trauma’, and things don’t look promising.
When I heard that I Prevail, who are sadly still a band, were gearing up to release new music, my very first thought was: “Cool, I can’t wait to see how bad these new songs will be.” Not that it really matters or anything, but I Prevail’s 2016 debut LP, ‘Lifelines‘, is still one the lowest ratings I’ve ever dolled out here, and is truly an abysmal, slap-dash pop-metal record with little to no soul or heart in either the lyricism or instrumentation. But time flies and it’s now time for I Prevail’s second album, ‘Trauma‘, set for release on March 29th via Caroline Australia, to hit digital and physical shelves soon enough.
With their second record’s announcement a couple weeks back, and with it’s looming release just next month, the American group have offered two new singles today, ‘Bow Down‘ and ‘Breaking Down‘, both show-casing their two different musical shades. (Originally, before editing it to mention combined likes and shares, IP first stated that they’d drop the first single early if the album announcement post received 100K shares on Facebook. They ended up only getting 47K, which to be fair, is still a staggering number.)
Anyway, let’s talk about ‘Bow Down‘. Firstly, this track seems like a middle-finger to record labels and shady managements; a call-out message stating that without the very bands and artists that they sign and work with, these people would be out of a job. Therefore, these suits had better “bow down”, as it were. It’s also clear that the band want everyone to know that they’re doing it all on their own and won’t let anyone tell them otherwise or get in the way; that if you try to fuck with them, they’ll open their mouths and out will come war. While I don’t at all care about their music, I actually don’t begrudge this band’s success either. I mean, who knew that covering a Taylor Swift hit would give you a solid career in heavy music these days?
As for the song itself, ‘Bow Down‘ almost runs like a song-writing check-list for artists of this highly lukewarm style. Those big melodic choruses that remind people these dudes aren’t just a metal band? Of course. The lame and repetitive guitar chugs? Duh. The radio-ready hooks? No shit. The glitchy guitar edits before a breakdown or chorus kicks in? Check. All with the odd, semi-mosh-able breakdown. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a band like I Prevail, really.
Here, screamer Eric Vanlerberghe definitely puts on his heaviest vocal performance, going lower in range than usual and sounding genuinely pissed-off too, and it’s got some of the band’s most aggro guitar playing as well. But the second that you step outside of this band’s context, you’ll (hopefully) realise how it’s nothing that special or interesting. Compared to what I Prevail have done before-hand: yes, this is definitely the heaviest they’ve ever sounded. But heavy doesn’t always equal better, a huge misconception for many. And if you think I’m being too harsh, ask yourself this: how many metalcore/post-hardcore/whatever-core bands of this ilk do you think I check out and get sent on a monthly and weekly basis from all around the world? Fucking heaps.
Then there’s ‘Breaking Down‘. This lighter number of the pair injects some trap vibes into the verses, with rattling hi-hats and screamed-rapped vocals, twisting it around into their usual pop-metalcore format before long. Technically, it’s functional, and is, at the very least, a slight departure from the band’s generic normie metal approach. But honestly, I don’t really like the song, and I was probably never going to, considering the kind of songs that this band so often writes.
However, the one part of ‘Breaking Down‘ that stuck out the most to me was the outro. Over some soft keys and atmospheric pads, singer Brian Burkheiser repeats over and over, “I don’t really like myself“, as a final synth-swell appears before he bluntly states: “I think I’m breaking down“. Sure, it won’t be the deepest thing you’ll hear today, but from a rather shallow and cookie-cutter band like I Prevail, it’s something more personal, something more honest. Brian openly dealing with the hefty stress and anxiety over a sustained vocal injury from a year or so ago that jeopardised his role within the band is something that I can respect. Just like how I can also respect I Prevail and Brian having the guts to be forth-coming about depression and the isolating hell it can drag a person to; that it can strike anyone, from a range of different factors or catalysts, as the music video shows. Also on the video, a final signing off at the end from the singer reads “when you’re depressed, you don’t control your thoughts. Your thoughts control you.”
I Prevail currently have a massive platform, so it’s great to see them trying to maintain the conversation around mental health in their own way; offering their voice to the larger discussion. While I couldn’t care less about ‘Breaking Down‘ as a song, if it helps someone else during their day-to-day, that’s all that matters.
I PREVAIL ARE PLAYING DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL AUSTRALIA 2019. I CAN THINK OF AT LEAST FIVE OTHER BANDS YOU COULD WATCH INSTEAD OF THEM.
SYDNEY, MARCH 9th – PARRAMATTA PARK
MELBOURNE, MARCH 11th – FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE