With the numbers they put up with debut LP Lifelines and the warm reception they received at Warped Tour, I Prevail clearly has designs on going mainstream. How grand are these designs? Well if Lifelines was them knocking at the door of stardom, Trauma (Fearless Records) is an urban assault vehicle demolishing the front gate and making its way through mainstream America.
Opener ‘Bow Down’ is the typical high energy Metalcore number I expected to open the album with charging but not overtly fierce guitars and airplane hangar-size melodic hooks. Sure, this kind of tune will warrant them loads of air-time on stations like Octane and some terrestrial radio not unlike All That Remains has been reaping on their last few albums, but I Prevail aren’t satisfied with solely reaching the mostly blue-collar listenership of FM radio rock. No, songs like ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Rise Above It’ indicate that these Michiganders want to take metalcore to a new plateau: Top 40. The abundance of acoustic guitars and Delaney Jane’s lovely vocals on ‘Every Time You Leave’ is all the proof anyone needs that these gentlemen want in on the Imagine Dragons side of business.
And there’s plenty more where that came from as I Prevail proceed to treat us to lush electronics and lots of Ellie Goulding vibes on ‘Hurricane.’ But if you’re looking for the ultimate call for mainstream listenership look no further than the aptly titled ‘Let Me Be Sad.’ It begins in ballad mode, before piling on sensitive rap verses, choruses as far the eye can see and a very classy, albeit brief, guitar solo. I may be no expert in the field of modern pop music, but if that isn’t the right combination of emotion, Auto-Tune and cheesiness to capture teenage attention spans then I’ve clearly lost touch with the fellow youth.
Looking for the harder stuff, though? ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Deadweight’ inject a bit of metalcore adrenaline, but its clear that the boys aren’t as interested in circle pits anymore. Is it disqualifying or wrong for musicians to have aspirations of reaching the largest audiences possible? Most of the hard rock fan set will probably scream yes, but is it that wrong to try to make a decent living in the music business? While Trauma isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I’m sure tons of fans and shopping malls will eagerly give it a home.
6 / 10