Even in the face of seemingly "impossible" odds, there's always a way to muster enough strength to soldier on and cross the finish line victoriously.
That goes for all facets of life. If you're willing to disregard the naysayers, forget the doubters, and defy the odds, you can accomplish anything. The story of Sioux City, IA hardcore and metal outfit For Today remains one of triumph. Breaking out of Iowa is hard enough. When you're playing heavy music with a Christian message, it's even harder. Still, the quintet--Mattie Montgomery [lead vocals], Ryan Leitru [lead guitar, vocals], Brandon Leitru [bass], Sam Penner [rhythm guitar], and David Puckett [drums, percussion]--consistently persevered, and it's all documented on their brand new DVD film and five-song EP, the appropriately titled, Prevailer [Razor & Tie].
In 2012, the group made a collective decision to encapsulate their journey in one cohesive piece. Prevailer pairs intense live footage in front of roaring crowds alongside intimate behind-the-scenes vignettes and honest, heartfelt interviews. In the process, the film paints a powerful portrait of the band's road thus far.
"We felt like we really had a story to tell," explains Montgomery. "In the beginning, everyone told us it'd be impossible to get this band off the ground. We were endlessly turned down by everybody you could think of--from labels to booking agents to promoters. We did things D.IY., and we didn't ever expect anything. We were never rich and famous in the first place, and playing music was never about that. We pursued our dream in spite of everything. We decided to make this DVD to show people who we are and give them a little bit of our history."
That history has proven to be quite remarkable. For Today reached a major milestone last year when their fourth full-length album, Immortal, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #15 with 14,700 units sold in merely one week. In addition to appearing on the Van's Warped Tour, they've shared the stage with everyone from The Devil Wears Prada and August Burns Red to We Came As Romans and As I Lay Dying. Prevailer not only reflects on their journey to date, but it opens up the door to the next chapter.
Touting a conceptual arc through the first four songs that mirrors the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the EP teems with cathartic hardcore energy and precise metallic firepower. The group hit The Machine Shop with producer Will Putney [Lamb of God, Suicide Silence, Miss May I] and tracked the effort in merely 10 days, capturing a distinct vibe.
"For the first time in a while, we incorporated elements of our early sound," the vocalist reveals. Our first two albums, Ekklesia and Portraits, had more progressive metal elements that we moved away from over time. I feel like a lot of that came back on Prevailer. It's still catchy, but it's also super heavy. We find a way to play opposing genres of music so they work in conjunction. We don't have a common denominator musically, and that creates a level of diversity."
That dynamic defines these songs. After foreboding church bells, unmitigated brutality courses through the first single "Crown of Thorns" as a death metal-style verse storms into a soaring refrain, "The last will be first to inherit the earth".
"Musically, the song is really dark," the vocalist goes on. "We wrote it in the 6/8 time signature and used a different tuning to convey this darker and more sinister feeling. Fans will immediately get into it."
The bludgeoning subsides on an acoustic rendition of "Fearless" from Immortal. This stripped-down take shows a vitality and vulnerability that resounds as loudly as any distorted breakdown. "We wanted to do something different," affirms Montgomery. "It was Ryan's brainchild. When I first heard it, I got chills. The song became entirely a new entity. It's really special."
Everything about For Today's rise has been special though. The band has built an overwhelmingly supportive following since forming in 2005. They've logged over 1,000 shows on five continents and have cumulatively sold over 115,000 albums in North America to date. Critical endorsements have come from Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press, and more. However, the next chapter commences loudly with Prevailer.
"This is definitely the start of a new season for us," concludes Montgomery. "Prevailer shows how far we've come. At the same time, it's a good introduction to the band. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy a For Today show or buy an album. This is open to everyone. We're all part of something very big together."