Back in 2011, four individuals hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, decided to form a band from the ashes of a previous musical endeavor, and thus, Islander was born. Just under a year later, in March of 2012, the group released their debut EP, Side Effects of Youth. Since then the heavy rock foursome has been slowly gaining more and more notoriety, especially after releasing the music video for their song “Death is the Shepherd” last July, which features guest vocals from Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. Fast forward about a year, and Islander’s sophomore EP, entitled Pains., is set to release later this summer!
Pains. kicks off with the lead single “New Colors”, a song which blends heaviness with melody almost effortlessly. Vocalist Mikey Carvajal does a phenomenal job of balancing out soaring choral lines with raspy nu metal-like screams, all over loud riffs and pounding drums. Before long the track fades away into nothing, and nothing is soon replaced by an eerie guitar line which has the opposite effect of the previous tune’s ending. As the volume increases, you can faintly make out a voice. The mysterious voice just happens to be that of HR, from the hardcore punk pioneers Bad Brains. Then “Lucky Rabbit” blasts into full effect, and Mikey takes the mic back, offering up more of a rapping vocal style in the verses. HR comes back for support in the chorus chanting behind Mikey’s passionate screams. This same pattern follows once more before HR stays featured in the bridge, where his voice almost sounds muted. The back-and-forth between the two vocalists really adds to this song, even with its above average instrumentation. “Glass” comes next, with another groovy riff. This song stands out a bit though, as Mikey is singing most of the time, only adding screams every now and then for emphasis. “Glass” has the potential of either being considered the best song on the EP or the worst, ironically for the same reason. “Big Shot” finishes off the EP quite well, with an almost anthem-like feel to it. The simple drum rhythm really adds to the overall charm of the song as well.
Even though Islander continues the prominence of riffs that they showed off in their debut, it seems as if the band has found a way to incorporate those riffs in a way that doesn’t end up overwhelming a casual listener. This “formula” they have created isn’t exactly original, but it does prove that they can at least hold their own as far as songwriting is concerned in the heavy music arena. Pains. has its moments of beauty along with its times of mayhem, and it all seems to fit fairly cohesively.