Metalcore quintet I Prevail may have initially garnered attention via their re-imagining of Taylor Swift‘s hit single ‘Blank Space’, but with sophomore full-length release ‘Trauma’, the group have proved that they can fully stand behind their own compositions.
Vocalist Brian Burkheiser‘s battle with depression, anxiety, and recovery from vocal surgery play a strong influence on the record, alongside the death of Kyle Pavone (We Came As Romans). With a heavy narrative running through the record, the group spent most of last year working on it to give the topics justice, resulting in tightly written collection of tracks.
Synths burst open within the opening seconds of ‘Bow Down’, unfurling an evolving riff that permeates the track. As guitarists Steve Menoian and Dylan Bowman trade off octave runs and off kilter riffs, Eric Vanlerberghe tears through high and low screams. Showing no signs of meekly returning, the group creates a statement from the get go, one that treads a fine line between chaos and melody.
Any doubt that Burkheiser‘s range may be compromised after his surgery is quickly eradicated with ‘Every Time You Leave’, an economic ballad that hinges upon Burkhieser‘s hook laden delivery. An intimate composition, the track is lifted by the presence of Delaney Jane, crafting a conversational back and forth that peaks at the right moments.
Not one to be outdone, Vanlerberghe displays a strong rapping style on ‘Rise Above It’, a track that has equal footing in hip-hop and hardcore alike, the constant stream of energy and a strong hook for the chorus ensures that it’s a stand out cut on the record.
As the record’s blend of pop, rap, and metal gains its footing, tracks such as ‘Goodbye’ throw a curveball into the mix. Based around finger-picked guitars and piano melodies, it morphs into a melancholic rap, not too far removed from the style of Scarlxrd. Stripped of the dynamic techniques displayed previously, it builds tension with Vanlerberghe‘s aggressive delivery.
Taking away the dual vocals, breakneck pacing and electronic flourishes, the record’s strengths lie within its composition. Regardless if it’s the crunching riffs of ‘DOA’ or the soft urgency of ‘I Don’t Belong Here’, each track is analysed and refined for maximum impact.
Granted, I Prevail may be working in a subgenre that is currently working through its next transitional phase, but by taking time on the composition of the tracks, ‘Trauma’ proves to be worthwhile listen.