Last month, I went to see one of my favorite bands perform live and walked away thinking about a completely different band I had seen for the first time that night. I Prevail opened for Hollywood Undead and absolutely blew my mind that night. Not only was their set energetic and ground-shaking, but I took home their EP and kept it on repeat for a week straight.
I Prevail is a Post-Hardcore band out of Detroit, Michigan, featuring a fresh, clean sound both on stage and on their record. Their name sets a high expectation for their music, when I think of the word “prevail” I think of defeating enemies, conquering castles, and continuing onward in the face of despair. Their EP “Heart vs. Mind” carries this theme that their name introduces throughout its entirety, breaking down what it means to prevail.
I was a little bit nervous when I first popped in the CD as I drove home from the show and the first track opened with synth. Now, I don’t have anything against electronic music, but I’ve had experiences with some post hardcore bands that use way too much over produced synth to make their music a little more mainstream-friendly and it doesn’t usually turn out too well. I Prevail did not do that, thankfully. They stay dedicated to their melodic, heavy roots, throwing in some synth, piano, and strings to accent a well rounded sound.
The second track on the EP “Crossroads” spoke to me on an intimate level, which is what music is supposed to do. At first, I expected it to be just another cliche “hold on, it gets better” song that is a post hardcore staple, but as I listened, I realized it was much more. “You gotta dig deep and bury all the thoughts, the thoughts that tell you, you’re not good enough…..I always get built up, but broke right back down” are words spoken from the heart of someone who has experienced depression and knows what it feels like, everyday. When Eric screams his parts, you can feel the truth and experience behind his words. When Brian sings, it is almost like he is trying to reach out to his bandmate. The dual songwriting on this track works brilliantly and brings a freshness to a topic that sometimes seems overdone.
“Love, Lust, and Liars” and “The Enemy” were both released as singles before I Prevail debuted their EP and both are a perfect representation of the theme I introduced earlier. “Love, Lust and Liars” is a great twist on the usual sad breakup song, instead of dwelling on someone who has hurt you, it is a fast paced, heavy hitting song that is a big “fuck you” to the person who destroyed this relationship. Alternatively, “The Enemy” is a campaign against a person who has never done anything good for our heroes. “Face Your Demons” is another story in this theme, taking prevailing to another level: revenge. Sometimes, moving on requires destroying someone else. Here our heroes destroy an evil person who hurt someone close to them, making sure their name is sullied for all time.
This EP is eight songs of unforgiving, relentless soul-felt music that doesn’t slow down for a second, even when we get to I Prevail’s ballad of a love song.
Once again, these guys show us a different side to something that could have turned out cliched. Often we get the token love song on an album, slower, something that may appeal to listeners outside of the metal scene and that’s all well and good. After a run of hard hitting metal tracks, I Prevail brings us an acoustic ballad about unrequited love. The weakness, it seems, in every hero, except here they do not win the girl. In a string of songs that talk about victory and overcoming everything in your path, this track shakes up the theme a little bit, showing us that even a warrior loses some battles. But the EP picks right back up again for the end, bringing us another heavy song before they close out with the cover song that got I Prevail a lot of the spotlight they are seeing today.
Normally, I wouldn’t go through the effort of talking about a cover song, but I Prevail’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” is such a great cover that I have to touch on it. I’ve been a big fan of the Pop Goes Punk albums for a while now and a distressing trend I have noticed in the later editions is how unoriginal a lot of the covers are. Often they end up sounding just like a guy singing a song that a girl originally did, not a lot is changed musically, melodically, if anything is changed at all. I Prevail do a number on Taylor Swift’s popular song, you can recognize the familiar melody, but Brian takes it out of Swift’s register and Eric’s screams, especially in the bridge, bring a completely different element to the song lyrically. The rest of the band turn the pop song into a metal song and it is delightful.
I will not hesitate to say that I am stoked for a full length album from these guys. I cannot wait to see what they have to add to their theme that they have delivered on so far. I’m a sucker for well written lyrics, balanced cleans and screams, and a heavy sound and I Prevail delivered all of those things and more.