For a time where bands are cashing in on rehashings of nostalgic nu-metal tunes, it’s nice to hear a group that pays tribute to the early 2000s heavy music scene without living in the past. Islander throws down hints of Deftones and Glassjaw throughout their Victory Records debut, but brings their own piledriving post-hardcore spunk. The two-headed opener “Counteract” combines bounciness with a scream-fueled edge, and the next track uses a similar form of attack, with vocalist Mikey Carjaval fronting chunky, rhythmic riffage in boisterous fashion. The way “Pains” and “Kingdom” use ambient effects brings Saturday Night Wrist to mind; the latter evolves into an alt-metal monster over its duration. Later, “New Wave” fits its title as it tapes a chilling bow on top of shingly, P.O.D.-esque wrapping.
The biggest problem is that these guys still need to fully develop their style into their own. But at least their foundation is set – and by genre-defining acts. Plus, it’s nice to hear Sonny Sandoval on “Criminals” without his band’s rocky style invading the energy. This stuff rumbles with a modern flair. While the album lacks a bit of variety overall, it still holds up because of its fresh dynamics and tight, metal-infused sound. As Sandoval said about these guys, Islander is a “new school band with an old school soul.” They may still have some roads to travel musically, but their hearts are in the right place, and instead of simply trying to bring back post-hardcore and hard rock, they’re showing enthusiasm in trying to set their own bar in the process.
Review by Tim Dodderidge