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Album Review: ‘Trauma’ by I Prevail

Posted by on March 28, 2019

I Prevail’s sophomore album, Trauma, was a hefty album to make. Following clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser’s vocal chord injury, he fell into a depression which left him with lingering mental stress and anxiety. His desire to come back to music is nothing short of inspiring and the band’s desire to write and record it “on their own terms” leads to an emotional, honest record that stays true to its purpose.

To say that Trauma is an intense record is putting it mildly. For an album whose songs mainly deal with the subject of mental illness, it needs to be. But every breathy lyric, every scream, every genre change is filled with so much purpose and pain. By the time the album is over, your voice hurts just from listening.

While not necessarily a concept album or trying to tell a particular story, the songs on ‘Trauma’ definitely sound like the lyricists are working out some inner demons. Single “Breaking Down” gives the listener a very detailed idea of what depression is like. “Paranoid” expanding on the feelings of paranoia by creating a sense of paranoia aurally. “Let Me Be Sad” relates the importance of letting yourself feel things, even if the emotions are less than positive. “Deadweight” talks about how negativity and depression are like unnecessary weights crushing him.

What is striking about these compositions is the sense of immediacy many of the songs evoke. The build-up between the lines of “Paranoid’s” chorus sounds like someone on the verge of a panic attack. Each line of “Breaking Down’s” rapped verses amplifies with every line into this hurried, pained scream. “Gasoline” is pure hysteria, as the guttural, frenzied screaming, heavy drums and distorted guitars come at you full force with.

The dynamics and differences between each song are pretty astounding as well. Genre changes from song to song can often feel disjointed and take you out of an album. But the songs on Trauma work well together. There is a bit of a Linkin Park-esque vibe to their intertwining of singing, rapping and screaming, though it is quite apparent that I Prevail’s sound is something all its own. The album starts with “Bow Down,” which comes out of the gate with an entirely screamed first verse. “Paranoid” effortlessly goes between its heavy chorus and electronic interludes connected by a shared, bouncing beat. “Rise Above It” does something similar, mixing rap, hardcore and electronically-enhanced percussion. Closing track “I Don’t Belong Here” is the polar opposite of “Bow Down.” Instead of intense screaming right out of the gate, “I Don’t Belong Here” is driven by a mellow, acoustic guitar melody. The song’s lyrics are introspective while the delivery has an almost exasperated feel, like he’s run out of energy.

The highs and lows of Trauma take you on an intense emotional journey. With mental illness being such a hefty topic and one that many can relate to, the album does it more than enough justice. Through manic, pained screams, raw, honest lyrics and calculated, effortless genre changes, you get a no holds barred feel for what Burkheiser has been through. Trauma is likely to be an album people going through these issues can turn to and feel less alone.

I Prevail’s Trauma will be released on March 29th via Fearless Records. Pre-order here.

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