Release Date: March 29, 2019
I’ll begin this review by prefacing that I’ve been an I Prevail fan since their beginning back in 2014. Both the band and I hail from Michigan, so I caught them as often as I could, which amounted to five times in four months. Every show I saw felt like the first time I’d seen them; their energy and passion were so infectious.
Their first full-length album, Lifelines, was released in 2016 and I fell in love with that too (after wearing out their EP, Heart vs. Mind). These guys certainly weren’t one-hit wonders. Their songs received nearly half a billion streams, with 115 million of those on YouTube, and sold over 500,000 albums worldwide. They won numerous awards and played over 500 shows in just three years. They were forces to be reckoned with.
But then they just sort of disappeared. For almost three years.
The reason for this hiatus was because vocalist Brian Burkheiser was suffering through a vocal injury that almost ended his career. This trial manifested itself into intense anxiety and mental stress for Burkheiser, and he admitted that he thought about leaving the band.
Thankfully for music fans everywhere, Burkheiser emerged from this dark period stronger than ever, and he and the I Prevail guys (Eric Vanlerberghe [harsh vocals], Steve Menoian [lead vocals], and Dylan Bowman [rhythm guitar]) decided to make another record, but this time they would do it on their own terms with no outside input. Ten months later, we have Trauma.
The wait was entirely worth it. This album is everything an I Prevail fan could want and so much more. It feels intensely personal, like reading diary entries of someone who is going through hell but is persevering. And the coolest part is that we get to go on this dark and triumphant journey with them. I’m betting that the name I Prevail means something even more to them now than it ever did before.
The album starts strong with “Bow Down,” arguably one of the heaviest songs in the band’s entire catalog. This will easily be a hit, not only among hard rock fans but also among those who enjoy a mosh pit at their live shows (and I Prevail loves a good mosh pit; I’ve witnessed them encourage circle pits numerous times).
The man behind the harsh vocals, Vanlerberghe, is a master and among one of my favorite “screamers.” There is so much raw passion and anger when he sings that it feels like his vocals are penetrating your soul every damn time.
“Paranoid” follows “Bow Down” with a totally different feel, mixing Burkheiser’s vocals with a bit of rap from Vanlerberghe and groovy, bass-thumping interludes. “Every Time You Leave” changes things up yet again, featuring a duet with Delaney Jane and no harsh vocals to be found. It’s so cool to see the versatility of these guys. One-note artists they certainly are not.
Fear not, though, the heavy hitters return on “Rise Above It,” with rap from Justin Stone segueing into a rat-a-tat, machine gun-like chorus mixed with harsh vocals. The lyrics “I will stop at nothing because I was made to rise above it,” feels like the anthem of this album and of I Prevail’s recent journey.
Other highlights include “Breaking Down,” which feels like a diary entry straight from Burkheiser to us about his dark period. “Hurricane” features my favorite chorus; it’s extremely catchy, and I already found myself humming it on a recent drive. “Gasoline” begins with Vanlerberghe coughing and clearing his throat and then screaming “Let’s burn it fucking down,” and it doesn’t let up from there: “This right here is as far as you go. Burn it all down, burn it all down, I don’t give a fuck, burn it all down, burn it to the ground.” I’m liable to start a mosh pit right here in my office.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a fan of I Prevail since their beginning, and this is definitely my newest favorite album of theirs. It’s so personal, so passionate, so intense, and so varied in its musical stylings. It’s a perfect rock album. That’s all there is to it.
To learn more about I Prevail, visit iprevail.com.
An interview with Burkheiser is coming soon!
Pair this album with:
This album carries some heavy, hard-hitting material, so we recommend an equally hard-hitting cigar such as Black Works Studio’s Sindustry. This cigar is rich, spicy, and has some delicious notes of dark chocolate and oak, and it’s even a personal favorite of James Brown, creator of Black Works Studio. It’s a Toro, 6 1/4 x 48, so it may last longer than the album, but you’ll need the extra time to sit and contemplate what you just heard and let the music soak in while enjoying this superb cigar.
For more cigar pairing ideas, check out these cigars.
Upcoming tour dates with Issues and Justin Stone:
4/24 — Kansas City, MO — Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
4/25 — Oklahoma City, OK — Diamond Ballroom
4/27 — Las Vegas, NV — House of Blues
4/28 — Phoenix, AZ — The Van Buren
4/29 — Anaheim, CA — House of Blues
5/1 — Portland, OR — Crystal Ballroom
5/2 — Seattle, WA — Showbox SoDo
5/4 — Boise, ID — Revolution Concert House
5/5 — Spokane, WA — Knitting Factory
5/7 — Salt Lake City, UT — The Complex
5/8 — Billings, MT — Shrine Auditorium
5/10 — Council Bluffs, IA — Westfair Amphitheater
5/11 — Wichita, KS — Wave
5/13 — Morrison, CO — Red Rocks Amphitheatre
5/15 — Dallas, TX — House of Blues
5/17 — Houston, TX — House of Blues
5/18 — San Antonio, TX — The Aztec Theatre
5/20 — St. Louis, MO — The Pageant
5/21 — Chicago, IL — House of Blues
5/23 — Ft. Wayne, IN — Clyde Theatre
5/24 — Detroit, MI — The Fillmore
7/11 — London, ON — Harris Park*
7/12 — Niagara Falls, NY — The Rapids Theatre
7/14 — Mansfield, OH — Mansfield Reformatory*
7/15 — Pittsburgh, PA — Stage AE
7/16 — Peoria, IL — Peoria Riverfront
7/18 — Oshkosh, WI — Ford Festival Park*
7/20 — Cadott, WI — Rock Fest*
7/22 — Clifton Park, NY — Upstate Concert Hall
7/23 — Huntington, NY — The Paramount
7/24 — Boston, MA — House of Blues
7/26 — Bethlehem, PA — Sands Bethlehem Event Center
7/27 — Montclair, NJ — The Wellmont Theater
7/28 — Philadelphia, PA — The Fillmore
7/30 — Silver Spring, MD — The Fillmore
7/31 — Charlotte, NC — The Fillmore
8/1 — North Myrtle Beach, SC — House of Blues
8/3 — Lake Buena Vista, FL — House of Blues
8/4 — Atlanta, GA — Buckhead Theatre
8/5 — Nashville, TN — Marathon Music Works
8/7 — Belvidere, IL — The Apollo Theatre AC
8/8 — Indianapolis, IN — Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
8/9 — Grand Rapids, MI — 20 Monroe Live
*Festival date; I Prevail only