Islander, Power Under Control

By Linda

I became obsessed with Islander’s Power Under Control when every song drew me in and kept me engaged. The songs vary in genre being described as alt-rock, punk via hip-hop inspired,  alt- punk, emo, second wave nu-metal, modern with some retro undertones and likened to a Deftones, POD, Afghan Whigs and Incubus. The album is wonderfully chaotic but comes together with a characterization of finding someone wrapped in a life of selfish hedonism and taking them by the hand to a more hopeful existence. Every song drew me in and kept me engaged. I loved the energy and every time I hit the last track on the album, I wanted to hear it again soon. When this happens, I know it’s going to be one of my journeys of complete album immersion. Power Under Control is such an album for me.

Islander signed with Victory Records and have released two EPs, Side Effects of Youth in 2012, Pains in 2013, a studio album, Violence and Destruction in 2014 and this album Power Under Control was released in 2016 with the band’s new line-up. Only Mikey Carvajal, the frontman for the band remains from the original band.  The current bassist is ex-ForeverAtLast bassist Ezekiel Vasquez, the drummer former is Arin Ilejay formerly of Avenged Sevenfold and guitarist J.R. Bareis, from Love and Death,  Brian “Head” Welch’s (Korn) band. Mikey revealed what he feels about the shift in band members, “I truly believe that what God tears down, God rebuilds,” says the singer, who, like Fieldy and Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, is seriously devoted to his faith.” (Rolling Stone) The title of the album comes from the New Testament theme of power under control, realizing the power we possess as believers, but using that power in meekness.  The songs follow the adventures of a character that starts out angry, selfish and hedonistic and gradually learns the value of love and sacrifice.

The band has been reinvented into an exciting, eclectic combination of sounds bringing them a wider fanbase. When asked if there is a theme to the album, Mickey told Audi Ink Radio, “Absolutely. This album is a concept album following a character on their own path. They learn how to harness their energy for something good rather than having energy spewing out of their life in all directions. It’s all about being focused and at peace. That doesn’t come without a struggle though.” He also explained in another interview that “each song brings an attitude that represents the next step of the progression.” At the end of this road this progression, the power under control  is found.

The first song on the album “Darkness” picks up with a turbulent sound with rhythmic rapping and alternate singing that starts you off on this wild ride. The subject matter takes us to people that most of us know,  have known and in many cases have been who are admittedly hedonistic and selfish, just living life whatever way they choose with no thought for others and no apologies.  This song introduces you to a character running on the extreme end of “darkness”.  A sarcastic look at such a character makes you realize how empty that kind of life is and just plain void of any meaning or purpose. Have you known people who celebrate their bad behavior and just don’t want to change? Have you been there? This character refuses to look at their soul in the mirror to see how gross it really is. They use their self-destructive lifestyle for bragging rights. I can remember living life in the shadows, for only me. My experience wasn’t as extreme as this character but a walk in the dark to any extent is enough to remember how completely turbulent this type of life is. This brush with “Darkness” makes you want to cling to the light that Christ shines in a life surrendered to him and hang on for dear life. I remember having dreams as a new believer where I found myself slipping back in the darkness and it scared me to death.

Bad Guy starts with one of Mikey’s characteristic shrieks. I love that. It makes it feel natural. This song could have mainstream appeal and addresses a role that we all have to play at times. You know how sometimes you have to be the “bad guy or gal” and call out a friend on their bad behavior. It could be something that’s hurting them or those around them and someone has got to call it to the table. Nobody likes doing it but a true friend will play the bad guy if they have to.

This is something that I don’t wanna say
But I’m gonna say it
You better believe it

Green Slime Man is a quick 1:09 minutes long, starts out with a moody guitar intro, then steps into fast paced rhythm with hard hitting lyrics,

“because they’re all neon, and their all scary and mean”. What is the green slime man?

I tried to put it together, the Green Slime Man,  but I couldn’t figure out what the song is talking about. If you know what it means, maybe you can fill me in.

Take a ride with me to a Better DayWhen things get dark, we can go back and remember the good days. Deep down inside we know we can go back to those better days.

Cause you’ve been waiting for a better day (Waiting for it)
To come along and love you like it used to
Mend the pieces of your heart
Cause you’ve been waiting for a better day (Waiting for it)
To come along and love you like it used to
Mend the pieces of your heart
You’ve been waiting for a better day, a better day
(To love you like it used to like it used to)

The feeling of invincibility that often goes along with the teen years and for some sticks into adulthood can shut us off from sound advice and from building bridges with authority figures. The song’s characters, feeling powerful and independent, they don’t need anyone.  All these characters need is the crowd they run with and their music (punk rock). They run their own lives, separating themselves from anyone that tries to interfere.  All We Need reveals this mentality.

Out on the streets they’ve been calling the shots. But not for long because we run this block. On the grind, we’re on the clock. All we need is our punk rock.

Devil Red starts with the sounds of a party that goes into heavy metal guitar riffs described as “sneering punk meets hip hop meets emo meets proto-rock by Blabbermouth and then the musical sound of a warning that you would expect in a movie when something bad is about to happen. This leads into a detailed description of this Devil Red. The accuser of the brethren is being called out for his dirty deeds as ruler of the darkness. I love the intense feeling of the subject, yet the musically fun tone of the song. I love Mikey’s screams that totally fit the mood of the song. My favorite lyric in the song is,

You’re a mislabeled poison with a bitter aftertaste
They call you the lord of the flies….AHHH, Devil Red

It makes you want to go gang up on that demon of red and throw him into the pit ahead of his time.

A Boat Going By is a moody, short, instrumental that to me feels like a transitional time, taking you from darkness to a better day.

Starting out with music almost resembling church music, the lyrics to Beelzebub start out with a statement with shock appeal but musically carries a softer tone.

I know the church is a whore, but she’s my mother and I love her
There’s not a thing you could say, or price you could pay to make me think any less of her

Addressing problems in the church has left many with a dismal feeling of frustration. Recognizing the problems but keeping the love for God’s living organism, the church intact is something we all have to deal with. The song also seems to address government (taking away guns) and those that are aligning themselves with Satan, although they may not think of it that way.

You’ve got an engagement ring shining on your finger
You’re waiting to be married to hell
You’ve got an engagement ring shining on your finger
It’s beautiful
It’s beautiful as hell

Ready to crack a few dance moves, Think it Over gets you bopping. It is a hopeful song, encouraging and learning how to put that power under control into action (THINK it over).

Take a good look in the mirror, and tell me what you see
All I see is potential staring back at you and me

Embrace the good in life and run with your dreams is the message here. Celebrate the light. I love it, let’s go!

Dance Dance. Party trance
Get on the floor and take a chance
Move Move. Bust a groove
Get so crazy that you lose a tooth

Accepting the fact that some things in life change, they don’t Last Forever and others take time. Be it relationships, bands, families going their own separate ways, people leaving this earth or a host of other things, acceptance is key. We have to move on to the place God is taking us next. We can’t get stuck in the past.

And here I go again
Dreaming of the end
The beginning of my forever
No fear
I’m wanting more and more of what I have in store
A dream I’ve had since before I was born

One of my favorite songs on the album, Casket has a powerful message. It takes a good hard look at death and where it will be taking you. Putting your arm around a friend and helping them to see the two choices before them is not an easy thing to do but its reality. How can we just ignore this. We’ve got to clue them in to the ultimate reality and meaning of life itself.

Would you rather be devoured by the hounds of hell
Or would you rather say…
You can put me in a casket and lay it in a grave
Write my name on a tombstone, but I promise I’m okay
Throw my body in a river
Or burn it up in the flames
Write my name on a tombstone
I keep asking death “Where is your sting?”
I said it.

I love it! Death where is your sting? The song ends with that and I love the way “Sting” is drawn out by Mikey as the last word.

Bringing friends around to the promise of eternity with Jesus is the greatest privilege we get to experience. Wait For It is a pretty song describing to a friend what they should do to embrace life, to transfer their name from the book of death to the book of life. Listen to the album below on Spotify (free streaming) and feel the journey. Allow God to speak into your heart the message he has for you in it all and then talk about it with your friends. Be a good friend, make a difference.


Enjoy this amazing album of commotion, drama, twists and turns taking you from the pit of darkness where Devil Red and Beelzebub dwell and leading you to the light.  Rolling Stone quoting Islander who shared their feelings about what fans want from music,  Johnny Cash once said, ‘The people just want four chords and the truth,’ and at the end of the day I think that idea still applies.” Islander works hard to please and to bring hope to their growing fan base.