After sharing a cover of Taylor Swift‘s hit ‘Blank Space’ back in December 2014 that went viral, you may be forgiven for overlooking American metalcore crew I Prevail when it comes to credibility. ‘Lifelines’ marks their debut full-length after their EP ‘Heart Vs. Mind’ gathered mildly positive reviews in early 2015, and it’s immediately clear from the start that this record will be divisive for some.
Lead single and opening track ‘Scars’ is one of the highlights on show, with a hugely melodic and anthemic chorus begging for live audiences to chant the lyrics back. Interchanging vocals on verses between aggressive screams (Eric Vanlerberghe) and R&B-esque clean vocals (Brian Burkheiser) add a decent mix to the proceedings, coupled with some electronic flurries adding a further textural impact and draws heavy comparisons to bands such as Issues.
While the title-track has a generic metalcore undertone running through it, there’s a feisty breakdown which demonstrates some originality, and that links the track together quite well. Moreover, there’s another catchy chorus on show which makes full use of the dynamic vocal approach, and urges some head banging. ‘Come And Get It’ continues the high level of groove evident so far, with a nu-metal bounce to it without sounding overtly retro, while ‘Rise’ will be stuck in your head for weeks.
Despite the initial positives, the lighter tracks on the record are the main weakness. ‘Alone’ and ‘My Heart I Remember’ being the two key examples of this; they’re both relatively slow-burning ballads almost entirely populated by Burkheiser‘s clean vocals. There’s a real lack of bite and substance throughout these songs, with Lee Runestad‘s drums and Tony Camposeo‘s bass largely missing from the mix. Some of the vocal hooks and key changes are pretty impressive though, and do add a fair amount of emotiveness, but overall they’re not going to appeal to the metal elitists.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘One More Time’ is pure pop-punk, ‘Already Dead’ once again displays the nu-metal influences (check out the massive breakdown at the end for some real heaviness), and ‘Pull The Plug’ shows a much darker side to the band’s personality. Containing a depressingly atmospheric tone throughout, it even contains an ECG machine beeping away in the background before signalling the end of its recipient’s life with associated lyrics indicating death. Pretty harrowing.
If you’re into those bands who like to experiment with the harsh/clean/harsh audio dynamic a la A Day To Remember, Issues, and Bury Tomorrow, you should find quite a bit to like here. I Prevail lift their head over the parapet at points on this record, but too often get sucked into the rest of the metalcore crowd. However, having formed only three years ago and with ‘Lifelines’ being their debut record, the band show promise and could well grow into a major player in the near future.
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)