Review by Greg Maki
At some point in 2017, I Prevail singer Brian Burkheiser suffered a vocal injury serious enough that he questioned his future with the band, both during his recovery and a period of intense anxiety that followed. While I never would wish that on anyone, it seems to have been, at least in part, the impetus for the band to push itself beyond any perceived notions of its sound, resulting in “Trauma,” its adventurous second full-length record.
While I Prevail stayed firmly in the realms of metalcore and post-hardcore, with dashes of pop-punk, on its debut EP, “Heart vs. Mind” (2015), and first long-player, “Lifelines” (2016), “Trauma” incorporates a variety of sounds and genres. Starting with the metallic fury of “Bow Down,” the album soon starts pulling in electronic, hip hop and alternative influences—not so much that the band loses its identity but enough to separate itself from its peers in exciting ways.
As one might expect, Burkheiser gives an especially impassioned performance, and the interplay between him and harsh vocalist Eric Vanlerberghe is more dynamic than ever. Guest vocalists—Delaney Jane on “Every Time You Leave” and rapper Justin Stone on “Rise Above It”—add even more flavors to the already varied palette.
While I don’t hear a song that will get stuck in your head instantly like, well, “Stuck in Your Head” from “Lifelines,” there are a number of standout tracks, including “Bow Down,” “Paranoid,” “DOA,” “Hurricane” and “Deadweight.” The lack of a clear breakout song is a result of the overall strength of the album more than anything else.
The whole band—which also includes lead guitarist Steve Menoian and rhythm guitarist Dylan Bowman—brings its A game, emerging from a hodgepodge of fairly predictable subgenres with an album full of twists and turns—you never quite know where it’s going next, and that’s a rare thing. It’s appropriate the band is signed to Fearless Records, because fearless is exactly what it’s become.
(Fearless Records, March 29, 2019)