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DLC Week of 8/3: Dirty Honey and I Prevail

Whether recalling the past or looking to the future, Dirty Honey “Heartbreaker 2.0” and I Prevail “Bad Things” cover all the bases with these two different takes on potent hard rock! You’ll want to grab this DLC debuting Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

From jump, L.A.-based blues-rock quartet Dirty Honey is equal parts retro swagger and millennial snarl on the powerful “Heartbreaker 2.0.” This is a 2023 recasting of an earlier track from the group’s self-titled 2019 EP. Why did the fellas – vocalist Marc Labelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone – feel inspired to return to what was already a fairly successful cut?  In an Instagram post announcing the song’s release, the band shared, “Some songs come to life after they’ve been performed live on the road. You can physically see an audience react to a line being sung a certain way or a riff grooving that you didn’t think of while recording in the studio. Over time, we realized ‘Heartbreaker’ took on a new life on the road in both North America and Europe and we wanted to capture that energy in the studio.”

From the opening salvo of crunchy guitars over a slinky, assertive rhythm section, “Heartbreaker 2.0” does, indeed, improve upon the strengths of the ’19 version of the song, with greater confidence and comfort evident in each measure. When Labelle’s soulful, rock-solid vocals join the mix at the 18 second mark, it’s clear we’re dealing with an act that reveres the rock and roll glories of established masters, but at the same time Dirty Honey injects enough energy and individuality to keep this from being some dated retread of a bygone era. Instead, the boys deliver a seductively familiar overall sound with immediacy and power that’s very much “present day.” At :40 we’re treated to the first go-round with the infectiously hooky chorus and it’s every bit as satisfying as some of the iconic recordings which are clearly a lodestar for the band. Occasional brief flourishes of slide guitar hidden amidst the song’s tube-overdriven six-string sonic swamp only add to the whiskey-soaked, rough-living vibe of “Heartbreaker 2.0.” This isn’t rock crafted for the charts of the 1970s – it’s hard-stomping, passionate tuneage that can resonate with listeners of any age *in* any age.

After the second refrain, a brief pre-bridge vocal crescendo leads to a gorgeously mapped-out guitar solo from Notto at 1:55. Pentatonic wizardry and fluid vibrato are employed to fantastic effect before the four-piece returns to what appears to be a lead-up to a final retread of the chorus, but… at 2:34 most of the instrumentation pulls back for a quiet and reflective take on that main refrain, spotlighting just the lead vocals and gentle guitar. This interlude satisfyingly transitions to a full-bore outro, replete with careening drum fills, meaty bass, and emotive singing, alongside that deliciously distorted, song-defining crunch until “Heartbreaker 2.0” runs out of steam at just about three minutes and 45 seconds. 

Forget “If at first you don’t succeed, try again”; Dirty Honey’s triumph with this “take two” track suggests that a more appropriate maxim might be, “If at first you knock it out of the park, do it again and aim to hit the damn thing twice as far!”

Armed with a catchy chorus and both the dueling guitars of Steve Menoian and Dylan Bowman and the twin-assault of Brian Burkheiser (“clean vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe (“harsh vocals”), I Prevail serve up a massive dose of angst and passion with “Bad Things,” from the 2022 LP True Power. It’s no wonder that this cut landed the twice Grammy-nominated, platinum-certified Michigan band its second Mainstream Rock Airplay No. 1 in the fall of 2022.

Beginning with some droning, and then skipping, synth-work, Burkheiser’s clean, assertive voice then establishes the melodic structure of the track at about 22 seconds in. Joined by a sparse beat 20 seconds later, Vanlerberghe also adds his raspy tenor to the fray before, at 1:03 the group delivers the first run-through of the massive refrain. This is some visceral, modern-day hard rock that ticks all the right boxes for it to resonate with true headbangers out there, while not scaring away listeners who yearn for approachable hooks. Snippets of spoken/rapped dialogue pepper in a bit of a nu-metal vibe here and there, but overall this is straightforward metalcore, utterly free of artifice. 

In broad-stroke terms, the track is lyrically about confronting internal dysfunction and attempting to make it through without “falling into dark thoughts.” “The general idea of being in love with something that’s hurting you at the same time and almost being aware that it’s hurting you, but you just can’t let it up,” says Vanlerberghe of the composition’s subject matter. “And what it is about specifically, I think that’s up to the listener to pick up and relate to on their own. I think it’s an intimate song for the people that need to hear it.” Adds Burkheiser: “I’d struggled with a major vocal injury and had been wondering whether I wanted to continue doing this thing at all. Eric [Vanlerberghe] had also lost his best friend over that same time, so there was a lot of heartache behind it. With True Power, we were going into a new phase. After taking that trauma and figuring out how to channel it, you find this sense of newfound confidence and an ability to grow as a person: to become truly yourself.  They took a ‘no rules’ mentality in the songwriting and the songs sound diverse more than ever.

Musically, while things progress perhaps as one might expect after the basic song structure had been outlined, at 2:17 I Prevail tosses listeners a curveball with a growly, distorted bass breakdown that’s soon bolstered by Vanlerberghe’s legitimately intimidating, passionate vocals. Gabe Helguera’s nimble work behind the drum kit ensures that all the structural and aesthetic hop-scotching within “Bad Things” never derails the proceedings, aided in his efforts by a solid bass-line established by Menoian (the dude handles both lead guitar and bass on the recording). This “middle section” that seemingly came out of nowhere lasts for just under a minute before the quintet returns to the chorus a few more times, in increasing intensity, before a satisfying culmination at 3:48.

Fans of I Prevail will relish another prime example of the quintet’s signature cocktail of dueling guitars, captivating vocals, and powerhouse sonic assault. Newcomers to the band are sure to be drawn to the melodic inventiveness and deeply personal, passionate delivery of the material. Either way, whether getting familiar with “Bad Things,” or revisiting this massive smash from last fall, it’ll be a decidedly *good* thing for you to check this banger out! 

Dirty Honey “Heartbreaker 2.0” and I Prevail “Bad Things” are featured in the Season 32 Pass. Pick them up today and enjoy the full season of DLC!  Both can be yours for $1.99 each.

  • Dirty Honey – “Heartbreaker 2.0”
  • I Prevail – “Bad Things”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 8/3: Dirty Honey “Heartbreaker 2.0” and I Prevail “Bad Things”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, August 3rd.