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To me, it is always a pleasure to listen to new metal bands that come from countries of ex-Yugoslavia. Many young, dashing, vigorous bands have come up recently straight out of nowhere, showing that metal isn't dead in this area.
On today's menu is First Conflict, the debut EP of the Croatian newcomers Prevail. The band describes their style as the mixture of heavy, power, melodic and thrash metal with occasional dashes of other genres. Hmm. This sounded a bit unlikely to me, given that they aren't also known as Rage, and importantly, this is their very first effort. I just had to check out this statement right away.
Guess what? They weren't lying at all. From the very beginning you'll notice huge influence of Iced Earth and early Metallica, but also some folksy elements, especially in the soft, gentle intros that each song on this EP has. However, what is prevailing in the music of Prevail (pun unintended) is the undeniably big factor of garage, inc. Those raw, crude, unrefined things that thrash pioneers had in their early days. It has nothing to do with quality of production (which is BTW nigh-on perfect on First Conflict). It's about attitude. It's about playing for your pleasure. As simple as that.
However, this doesn't mean that Prevail's music is just some random strumming over their unfortunate worn guitars. No way, Pedro. Prevail manage to cleverly find balance between melodic passages and uncompromising aggression, and mind you, this is not easy. Then there are notable changes in tempo and mood, something that became one of many Maiden's trademarks, and all these changes are done very smoothly and naturally, which in my mind shows that they are good and capable songwriters. Also, I see a lot of potentials in the vocalist Toni Ljubić, as he's giving it everything he's got in front of mic, very passionate and convincing performance. His grumpy, pissed voice really works combined with this garage-like power/thrash. Yet he doesn't need to sound like this. In sort of Running Wild homage ''Free Spirit'' we get to hear some brilliant clean vocals that could be even better, if Toni works a bit on them.
While containing good level of consistency and motivation throughout the whole record, it's not until ''Pravda'' when Prevail display what they're really capable of. Sung in Croatian, this song portrays a story of an old, bitter war veteran, whose country has been plunged into bloody war by shrewd power. Croatians are really proud of their, as they call them ''domobrani'' - war volunteers, and I have no doubt that this song is based on a true story. Ljubić rules here, sounding like an extremely angry bastard of James Hetfield and Sully Erna. All this is accompanied by very good performance of the Petrović brothers, Davor and Boris (no, basketball freaks, not Dražen and Aleksandar) on guitars. This is definitely the highlight of Prevail's career so far.
Truth to be said, the band offers here nothing new. Sure they bring a lot of elements from various famous bands, but in this mish-mash there's nothing I could call originally and authentically Prevail. ''The Way Home'' is just a rehash of ''Fade to Black'' and ''Nothing Else Matters'', and ''God of War'' is an ordinary thrash that sounds like it was written on Ride the Lightning sessions. None of these songs is bad, but none apart from ''Pravda'' will get more attention in metal world, because it's all been heard 10.000 times before. This is the burning issue for Prevail. Being influenced by someone is not bad, but if your originality is being suffocated, now that's the red alert beeping and wailing.
The next few releases will be critical for Prevail. If they start making their own music, I believe that the success is inevitable. If not... Well, there are many tribute shows, right? Be smart, guys. Be smart.