I Prevail’s original claim to fame may have been based on Taylor Swift, but that’s not all they’re known for. This is a band that has some serious staying power, as they proved last week to a nearly sold-out crowd at Dallas’s House of Blues.
The Michigan-based metalcore outfit has endured their fair share of trauma during their time as a band. Just as I Prevail’s 2016 debut album, Lifelines started to gain traction, clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser received some news that every singer dreads – he had a polyp on his vocal cord that needed to be surgically removed. Vocal lesions, like nodules and polyps are potentially career-ending injuries, but that didn’t stop him. “After my vocal injury, I almost gave up and left my band. I was in the worst mental state of my life and felt like everything we worked for was over,” Burkeiser shared in a recent Instagram post. “Early last year though, I told myself that if we were going to get back and write another record it needed to be done OUR WAY. No label telling us who to work with, or what our music should sound like. No negativity coming in from outside sources. No cookie cutter BS.”
The result was TRAUMA, and it’s anything but “cookie cutter BS.” I Prevail is now celebrating their aptly named sophomore album with a nationwide tour. Along for the ride are 22-year-old alt-rapper Justin Stone (who makes an appearance on TRAUMA in the genre-blurring track “Rise Above It”) and metalcore scene-mates, Issues.
It’s been a while since we heard from Issues, and I was starting to suffer from withdrawal. The band has been through some internal struggles in the years since the 2016 release of Headspace, which seemed to come to a head early last year when they parted ways with screamer Michael Bohn, citing creative differences. Guitarist AJ Rebollo has since taken over screaming duties and is featured on their newest track “Tapping Out.”
Issues started off strong with “Hooligans” from Diamond Dreams, then went right into fan-favorite “COMA” from Headspace. They continued to deliver hit after hit, including “Tapping Out,” which now has over a million streams on Spotify. They threw us a few surprises too, like heavier tracks “Stingray Affliction,” and “Blue Wall,” the latter of which tackles the subject of police brutality. Frontman Tyler Carter has an unstoppable stage presence and was super engaging with the crowd throughout the set. He asked for a circle pit multiple times, and we eagerly obliged. One complaint though – Rebollo’s screaming seems to lack the oomph that we’re used to hearing from Issues. His technique is little muddier, and at times I had a hard time hearing him. Perhaps this will work itself out as he settles in to the new role.
After a lengthy stage changeover, our headliners made their way out and got things started right away with “Bow Down” and a few other heavy-hitters from TRAUMA. Justin Stone came back out to the stage to join the band for “Rise Above It,” which exuded Linkin Park vibes in all the right ways. They continued on and gave us several more tracks from TRAUMA, plus “Lifelines” and “Stuck in Your Head” from their debut album. They stopped midway through their set to do a rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” which was much appreciated by fans. All in all, I was thoroughly impressed by I Prevail’s intense, polished performance. Audience members around me seemed almost unable to resist jumping along to every single song (except maybe the ballads, like “Goodbye”). The members of I Prevail have clearly dealt with their traumas as best they can, and now they’re stronger than ever.