Monday 21 December 2015

ISAAK - Sermonize (Album Review)

Release date: 27 November 2015 – Vinyl / 6th February 2016 - CD/Digital. Label: Small Stone/ Heavy Psych Sounds. Released. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Sermonize – Tracklisting

1. Whore Horse
2. The Peak
3. Fountainhead
4. Almonds & Glasses
5. Soar
6. Showdown
7. Yeah(Kyuss cover)
8. Lucifer's Road(White Ash cover)
9. Lesson n.1
10. The Frown Reloaded
11. The Phil's Theorem
12. Sermonize

Band Members:

Giacomo H. Boeddu - vocals
Francesco Raimondi - guitars
Massimo Perasso - bass guitar
Andrea Tabbi de Bernardi - drums, vocals


I really liked Isaak's debut, 'The Longer The Beard, The Harder The Sound', when it came out in 2013, and I still do. Great title for an album, by the way. But somehow they disappeared on me. Why, I don't know, however, with the release of their sophomore wax, 'Sermonize', not only do I have the honour to listen to a great new album, but my interest in the debut has been rekindled and then some. So read on what my thoughts are regarding the magnificent creation these Genovese signori have unleashed.

A fuzzed out early-sounding Soundgarden riff starts off 'Whore Horse' before the distorted voice of Giacomo kicks in. Short, sweet and fucked up is all I can say. A hypnotic and pulsating guitar initiates 'The Peak' turning it into a full-blown stoner song of the best kind. As the bass guitar and drums join I break my neck banging and thrashing around. All that is taken to a whole new level when signor Boeddu starts belting out the lyrics. Amazing people, amazing from the get-go. 'Fountainhead' picks up right where 'The Peak' left off although a more heavy-ass rock approach is utilized to great aplomb. And man, the chorus is brutal and crushing in a way I haven't heard in a while. Largely instrumental, 'Almonds & Glasses' is trippy and trance-inducing, especially the guitar riffs. Isaak really throws me out on a space trip if there ever was one. 

About halfway through, the band throws down the gauntlet and go full tilt like there's no tomorrow. Staying on the spaced-out path, 'Soar' reminds me of The Melvins performing on top of Vesuvius on the verge of eruption. Quirky, out there and heavy as hell, you hear! The band calls their music "twisted crazy stoner metal" and that could be no more true than on this track.

Oh yeah, sinister and in your face 'Showdown' buckle down to no one and it's like Vesuvius as finally erupted, spewing molten lava on us unsuspecting listeners. No mercy is shown here. In spite of all their heaviness and craziness, these Italians have a lot of humour. Just check out their cover of Kyuss' 'Yeah', I mean the original version is only 4 seconds long, Isaak has cut it down to 1! That, if anything, shows the guys doesn't take themselves too seriously. Don’t take me wrong though because Isaak does not fuck around with their music. But to throw in some humour, breaks the mould and shows the band are really down to earth, and I love it.

'Lucifer's Road' follows and is another cover, this time by White Ash. They are a band I've never heard of, so I can't compare Isaak's version...which is a good thing. Anyway, this version is more doomy than anything else on 'Sermonize', at least in the verses. Slower, more punishing only to switch to cajoling and seductive, everything explodes in the choruses. Taking a trip out to the Sonoran Desert, ‘Lesson n.1’ has a slightly slower tempo with quite a bit of Kyuss thrown in and best enjoyed with a glass of Cinque Terre. That bass guitar has my blood running with its thumping, distorted tone allowing the band free reigns to trip out. ‘The Frown Reloaded’ is another heavy-ass rocker but mixed with a lot of melody. It kicks and it bucks like a wild horse until it breaks free about halfway through the songs. And man, these Italians destroys! Oh yeah, Isaak are changing things up on ‘The Phil’s Theorem’.

Heavy psych is the name of the game where the bass guitar and the drums sets the mood excellently. Francesco’s guitar switches effortlessly between repetitive, hypnotic riffs and spaced-out solos while Giacomo’s husky and seductive voice is the last piece in this psychedelic trip. The title track ’Sermonize’ has the honour of closing out this fantastic album. Totally different than the rest of the songs musically, it still elegantly picks up on the psychedelic approach from ‘The Phil’s Theorem’. Multi-layered soft singing voices backed by a semi-acoustic and an electric guitar, we, the listeners are swiftly transported to a different dimension. A place of calmness and beauty, where peace of mind is quickly reached. A perfect ending to a perfect album!

What more is there to say about this wax, than has already been spoken? I was hooked from the moment I played ‘Sermonize’ and it has grown immensely with each spin. If you are into the stoner rock/metal field, there is no hesitating, because this is a must-have. Don’t hesitate because…well you need it!

To tie everything together with the beginning of this review, the release reconnected me with Isaak’s debut. So, I basically got two excellent albums at the same time. Isaak are a band set well apart from most others. They play music than has been kind of over-saturated for a while but they side-step any trappings easily with their bar to none song writing skills, musicianship and humour. So go check them out right now!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Sermonize is available to buy on Vinyl from Heavy Psych Sounds now and CD from Small StoneRecords from 06th February 2016.