On March 29, the metalcore band I Prevail released their third studio album "TRAUMA." With songs that have a driving force behind them as well as elements of lyrical melodies and rap influences, there is a ton of variety that this Michigan band has to offer. The album consists of 13 songs that have a total run time of around 42 minutes of listening.
Over the years, I Prevail have had a revolving door of new band members that have joined the band since their start in 2014. For this album, the band’s line up consists of clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser, unclean vocalist Eric Vanlerberghe, lead guitarist Steve Menoian, rhythm guitar Dylan Bowman and drummer Gabe Helguera. The album is released under the Fearless Records label that has infused many elements of different music genres into one, hard-hitting album. For most metalcore bands, the topics they cover can be about a variety of things such as drugs, alcohol, partying or losing a friend close to you. "TRAUMA" is no different.
Mental health is a topic that has gotten a lot of spotlight in the past decade. With people experiencing the effects of it on a day-to-day basis, it can become a popular topic. According to the band’s website, this album is seemingly ripped straight from the diary of someone who is feeling alone or lost. Song titles such as "Every Time You Leave," "Rise Above It," "Breaking Down" and "I Don’t Belong Here" have lyrics that can drive that point home. Despite having the songs being played with either heavy guitars and bass, aggressive rapping or the unclean vocals piercing through the melody, the message of the songs remains the same.
Some people might recognize the band’s name due to their famous rendition of Taylor Swift’s "Blank Space" that got attention on YouTube. The cover earned the band a gold status and was on their "Heart Vs Mind EP." With other songs getting some traction, the band was climbing closer and closer to becoming a known band. While this was all happening, Burkheiser was battling a war within himself.
After sustaining a vocal injury that could have potentially made him quit music, he endured anxiety and stress. Not answering to texts or phone calls left him locked up in his house contemplating what his future held within the band. Before long, Burkheiser got past the roadblock and the band paired up with producer Tyler Smith to work on this 10-month project.
The songs that stood out to me on this album are the first single "Bow Down" and "Every Time You Leave." Looking at the first song, it by far hits the hardest on the whole album. The song starts with a build-up of guitars and synths that later hits a peak of the unclean vocals screaming, “Get on your knees and bow down.” The commanding vibes are held throughout the whole song as Vanlerberghe and Burkheiser duet and send a message about getting the upper hand on the oppressor.
You wanna talk that s**t, time to back it up
'Cause the best of your best ain't good enough
Playing with my name, now I know you really f****d up
Keep running your mouth, and I'ma call your bluff
Having lyrics that tell the tale of a person who has been oppressed for too long that is sung by the unclean vocals and are paired with an aggressive style of metal drives the point home of someone who had enough and is ready to dish back what the oppressor has been dishing out. I believe this is a great choice to start the album with this type of style of a song because it gets the ball rolling on what this album is all about right off the bat, no sugar coating needed.
"Every Time You Leave" has a different style in comparison to the first track. Being the third song of the album, listeners are welcomed to a different set up than the previous songs. This one is softer and more melodic. For this song, the verses are split between Burkheiser’s clean vocals and Delaney Jane’s eloquent vocals. This song talks about trying to make a relationship work, despite all of the barriers that are set forth. The first verse of the song seems to set up what the tone of the song is:
All I ever wanted was to find someone
But holdin' it together is the hardest part
No one said life gets in the way
That our plans may change but our hearts remain
With having a male and female singer, listeners can imagine hearing both sides of the story of how they feel when their significant other leaves. The style of the song is more of a power ballad structure instead of short and aggressive as compared to the other song mentioned. If the song was only sung by Burkheiser, it would not have the same affect as it does with the female vocals included. This song fits in perfectly to what the album is about and is a good change of pace.
Overall, I am a fan of this album. When a metalcore band has an album that has little to no variation on what style of music they do, it gets boring and a little overdone. With I Prevail, they have a great mixture of songs that deal with inner problems and voice messages in a very artistic way. For a band that has this much going for them in their third studio album, I am excited to see what other materials they are able to come up with in the future. Rock on Lumberjacks.