Post-hardcore band I Prevail gained international popularity when they posted a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” on YouTube. As I write this, the video has 20.2 million views. The song has been released as a single, and is also on Punk Goes Pop, Vol 6. They’ll be playing along with ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown on the first day of Carolina Rebellion this year. The Michigan-based band also has an EP titled Heart vs. Mind, released at the end of 2014 through Fearless Records. I highly suggest you check it out. Read on to find out why.
I Prevail “Blank Space” (Taylor Swift Cover) on Youtube
I Prevail – Heart vs. Mind Review
The album starts out with the title track, with a synthesized intro that gives way to the rough vocals of Eric Vanlerberghe. Check out the false vocal folds on that guy! Really! I spent half of grad school trying to get that effect, and it’s still a challenge. “I’m just a stranger who made a wager for my life,” sings Brian Burkheiser, smoothly, but with the same timbre of realism notable in Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. The chorus continues, “I may not escape this time.” This fatalistic desperation is counterbalanced by Eric’s declaration “The war rages on, but I will not quit… I will rise back up, I won’t be held down.” This song sets the stage for an album characterized by that battle that great artists face between the creative yearning of the heart and the self-doubt generated in the mind. This battle seems to be one that is always even-sided – fueled by the polar opposites of success and failure, light and dark. Even the name of the band – I Prevail – is a recognition of which side the group favors, perhaps even a self-affirmation for the members. You must admit, it’s much more concise than “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
The band released a video for the next song on the EP, “Crossroads”. The video features the group performing in between shots of the members on tour, singing on sidewalks, crash diving into giant chess boards, and tickling each other. This song is about that battle brought up in “Heart vs. Mind,” and choosing the path that the heart wants. “When your mind gets tired and your heart grows cold. When you find yourself at the crossroads, just don’t lose hope.” This song is an anthem to the young and to the young at heart (as the band demonstrates as they are shown dancing with a white-haired woman at a show), meanwhile providing aural motivation for the slow to start. Another song with a video, “Love, Lust, and Liars” (kudos for that Oxford comma, boys!) depicts the band rocking out in a rubble-strewn cityscape bordered by the concrete bases of an elevated railway. The band rocks through the song with buoyant energy and resolve. “Face Your Demons” opens with Steve Menoian’s driving guitar and Lee Runestad drumming like a firing squad, before Eric gets things going with his powerful vocals. “I’ll make sure the whole world knows your name, but for all the wrong reasons,” sings Brian with rancor. I certainly hope this isn’t a direct threat, but rather a warning that their detractors are not tearing them down, but rather empowering them to achieve greatness.
I Prevail “Crossroads” on Youtube
In “The Enemy,” another song with a corresponding video, the group performs in a spotlight, jumping in unison, promising, “I’ll make you my enemy.” Other shots show Brian running, occasionally looking behind him. I suppose that’s a reference to the negativity generated in his mind, which he is trying with all his being to overcome. My suspicion is confirmed as Brian comes face to face with himself, as the band plays on in the background. We are all our own worst enemies, but maybe that’s a good thing. Just as in the battle of heart versus mind one cannot exist without the other, perhaps an internal enemy is equally valuable to one’s own heroism. Taking a turn for the acoustic, “My Heart I Surrender” provides a glimpse of the band off juice. The group loses nothing when they go acoustic. As a matter of fact, the quieter, calmer sound allows Brian’s vocals to shine through, giving the listener an opportunity to truly appreciate his range as a vocalist. And besides, an acoustic version of a song titled “My Heart I Surrender” is much more romantic than the – what I can only imagine would be – dismal tone of the song on juice.
Plugged back in, “Deceivers” brings back the guitar-driven rock with impeccable percussion and Eric’s forceful delivery of the frank and resolute lyrics. Partway through the song takes an intermission, with restrained music and Brian’s steady delivery of the questioning chorus, before picking back up to end with choral singing, a fitting end to I Prevail’s poignant EP about a very individual battle that is common to the human experience. It is through personal struggles that people unite, and this album celebrates that fact, in a beautiful way. Eric’s harsh and growling vocal style represents the heart – raw and unabashedly uncombed. And Brian’s penetrating voice can easily be a manifestation of the mind – logical, questioning, and introspective.
This is a band that is only getting started. They have come up with a rocking and meaningful EP, and are destined for the incredible. Check them out at Carolina Rebellion and prepare to be impressed.
More 2016 Carolina Rebellion
- Monster Energy 2016 Carolina Rebellion Lineup Announcement
- Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Wild Child Review
- Wilson – Right to Rise Review
- RavenEye – Breaking Out EP – COMINGSOON