July 08, 2014 - Victory
With their roots firmly planted in the DIY hardcore scene, South Carolina’s Islander now face the precarious position of becoming a full-fledged rock band. With that comes some awkwardness, like vocalist Mikey Carvajal’s insistence on employing the many vocal tricks of one of his obvious influences, Chino Moreno. Done subtly, this could have been a classy homage to one of the best singers in hard rock, but Carvajal is shameless, and almost smarmy sounding, while dropping the “woos” and screeches that Moreno has become infamous for.
While a band like Norma Jean were able to fully embrace their influences while forging their own sound (see 2008’s The Anti Mother, where Moreno added a guest spot, but NJ singer Cory Brandan stuck to his vocal guns), Islander appear to be trying their damnedest to become Deftones 2.0. When they relax a little and revert back to the heavier, hardcore-based sounds that birthed them, Islander sound way more at home.
Strangely enough, it’s the track “Criminals,” featuring guest vocals by none other than P.O.D.’s Sonny Sandoval, that delivers the most punch; a riff-heavy hardcore song with some well placed scatting by Sandoval. “Hearts Grow Cold” is another strong point, a screamy, groove-laden metalcore song that combines their obvious love of nü metal with a heavier edge that comes straight from the gut. Meanwhile, the album’s closing title track is akin to the heavier material of Thrice.
Islander are a band with a ton of promise, but Violence & Destruction tries too hard to create a sound that can easily be compartmentalized by its influences. With a deep breath before their next album and some much-needed growth on tour, these guys might just be the new force in heavy rock. For now, this album merely fills the gap until the next Deftones album comes out.