Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Italian heavy rockers Isaak took a major step forward late last year with their second album, Sermonize (review here). Released through Heavy Psych Sounds and Small Stone Records — two rousing endorsements to have — it found the band going well beyond the confines of 2012’s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound (streamed here) and toward a much more individual approach. After spending a decent portion of the last few years, the band has announced they’ve just swapped out drummers, and while one expects that will change their dynamic some going forward, I’d expect their growth will continue onto whatever it is they do next. Some momentum you just don’t stop.
I got sent a shorter version of the statement below, but wanted to print the thing in full since I think it speaks well of how much this music means to the people who are making it, and I guess that’s really what it’s all about. So here you go:
Isaak line up Change
Loads of things have happened after that dinner in a Mexican restaurant, choosing the name ISAAK after “some” Margarita.
What is the reason of starting with this sentence? We are going to explain you in a while, but we believe a short introduction is doubtless needed. ISAAK wasn’t just a change of name from Gandhi’s Gunn. Isaak became (and continue being nowadays) a completely different band from that moment. After that dinner we turned the page on the past and we looked forward, we always did it musically and not only. Band has been always more important than the single members and this shared belief has often allowed us to go ahead despite difficulties.
Who has been part of this project is perfectly aware of what we’re talking about. This band survived the distance, the adaptation to changes, the thefts, the necessities of life of the single members. This band has survived to the fact that it was possible to rehearse only during weekends. This situations has lasted for YEARS and only when we managed to be there all together (we also managed to make a record this way!). These are sacrifices that each one of us has done with pleasure and that each one of us would blindly be willing to do it again, from the first to the last.
For those who don’t know , Andre (our drummer) has been living in a city that is nearly 4 hours far away from Genoa. During three years he held it on, giving priority to our band and giving up on many other things. He did it for real. He did his best for the band.
Today Andre leaves the band but he will be always part of this family. He has significantly contributed on this project, he believed in ISAAK and we have been witness of it. He has definitely helped us to make this dream come true.
A simple post on Facebook certainly cannot summarize all this. Andre passes the baton to another great genoese drummer a great friend who will join us on the Isaak path, is name is Davide Foccis! We’ll see you under the stage to give him an eager welcome to the family!
Giacomo H Boeddu – Vocals Gabriele Carta – Bass Davide Fox Foccis – Drums/Vocals Francesco Raimondi – Guitar
[Note: Click play above to stream Isaak’s Sermonize in full. Album is out on vinyl Friday through Heavy Psych Sounds (pre-order here) and on CD Feb. 6, 2016, through Small Stone (pre-order here).]
With their second full-length under their current moniker, Genova-based heavy rockers Isaak hit their stride. Their earlier-2015 Heavy Psych Sounds split with Mos Generator gave advance notice of some significant growth in their sound since the 2012 release of their Small Stone debut, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound (streamed here), but with Sermonize, they affirm more open stylizations and increased penchant for atmosphere, making the 12 included tracks a richer, more engaging listening experience. Remarkably, the band — vocalist Giacomo H. Boeddu, guitarist Francesco Raimondi, drummer/vocalist Andrea Tabbi de Bernardi and bassist Massimo Perasso (who since the recording has been replaced by Gabriele Carta) — accomplish this without giving up the driving sense of heft or momentum that served their last outing so well, and the collection of songs they bring forth is varied, indulging Torche-style major-keyism on “Soar” while doling aggro stomp on “Lucifer’s Road,” a cover of Italian outfit White Ash the central riff of which is worthy of focus.
That cover is one of two on Sermonize, the other being Kyuss‘ “Yeah,” which appears immediately before it on side B, and which, true to the original, is just someone saying the word “yeah.” Clearly Isaak haven’t lost the sense of humor that’s done right by them since they made their debut in 2010 as Gandhi’s Gunn with the album Thirtyeahs (discussed here), something the title of their intro, “Whore Horse” also affirms. Still, they’ve come a long, long way since that first record and since that name change, and most satisfying of all as regards Sermonize is how in command of their efforts Isaak prove themselves to be. There is a sense of purpose to each sonic shift they make throughout, and each shift serves to make the whole of the album stronger. It is the sound of their potential paying off.
Big guitar fades in to launch “Whore Horse,” joined soon by blown-out vocals. Compared to some of Sermonize‘s more straightforward fare, it’s an immediate removal from the comfort zone, and that’s pretty clearly the idea. At 1:41, the intro isn’t much shorter than most of the tracks, which are in the three-to-five minute range — the longest, “Soar,” is 5:30 — but as it moves into “The Peak,” the effect “Whore Horse” has isn’t to be understated in adding context and a feeling of not knowing what to expect to what in many other instances would be a simple desert rock riff. It isn’t here in part because of the production, which plays laid back stoner aspects off of the burl Isaak proffered their last time out, the treatment of Boeddu‘s vocals especially noteworthy for being perfectly balanced with the guitar, bass and drums and for the echo adding spaciousness to his gruff delivery.
The ensuing “Fountainhead” (lyric video here) offers one of Sermonize‘s strongest hooks and begins to reveal Isaak‘s method in terms of their building momentum across each of the album’s two sides. Both “Fountainhead” and “Almonds and Glasses,” which follows, are about four minutes long and quickly-paced, in league with the shorter “The Peak” in moving the listener through an opening salvo in good speed. At the same time, “Almonds and Glasses” also proves more patient, and is instrumental save for a couple of deep-mixed echoing vocal lines, so it marks a change of tactic as well. Call it a half-turn, with “Soar” as the other half. At 5:30, it’s a good deal longer than much of Torche‘s work, and it uses that extra time to let Isaak bring their own personality to a sludge-pop style, moving from a catchy sway into a fervent instrumental push near the end that they skillfully bring to an apex to close out side A with the highlight of the album so far.
“Showdown” must have been a contender to open Sermonize at some point. In addition to similarly-grooving snare punctuation, it shares a quick pace with “The Peak” and a relatively straightforward verse/chorus structure. Why they might’ve gone with one over the other, I don’t know — “The Peak” does work well coming out of “Whore Horse,” where “Showdown” begins almost in medias res — but it functions more than ably to launch side B, which then delves into its two covers in succession. “Yeah” is less than a second long (one can’t help but wonder if they had to pay royalties to Kyuss for its use), and it gives way to the explosive plod of White Ash‘s “Lucifer’s Road,” a cover that provides Isaak with an opportunity to dive head-first into riffy largesse. Unabashedly heavy and somewhat darker than much of Sermonize, it nonetheless fits with the original material around it, “Lesson No. 1” picking up from its raucous finish with a sort of return-to-earth desert rock vibe, choice verse groove and catchy hook, moving into semi-psychedelic swirl in the second half bridge, but making its way back to the chorus to finish out and move into “The Frown Reloaded,” which touches on some of the same ideas as “Soar,” but in a way that’s even more Isaak‘s own, adding more boogie to the upbeat rhythmic thrust.
It’s somewhat buried near the end of the album, but it shows there’s no dip in quality as the four-piece rush on toward the finish line. Maybe “rush” is the wrong word, since neither “The Phil’s Theorem” nor the closing title-track are in any hurry. “The Phil’s Theorem” is a mid-paced groover with standout guitar layering and a mega-chorus that one hopes will be ground for future development from the band riding its riff into hypnotic fadeout, and “Sermonize” itself is a quiet, well-arranged melodic finish, more sentimental and quietly resonant than the flurry of badass riffery preceding throughout much of Sermonize‘s span. Like the album as a whole, “Sermonize” is an encouraging finish, a last-minute show of dynamics that seems to dogwhistle to the listener that Isaak have even more to offer in terms of breadth than they put into these tracks, and if that’s the case, all the better, but the prospects for continued growth should not undercut the accomplishments Isaak make in these songs, which play to genre with an edge and presence all their own.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
Not much has changed since the last time news came through about Isaak‘s new album, Sermonize, at least conceptually. The album is still coming out under the wire in 2015 on vinyl through Heavy Psych Sounds, and it will still be out on CD early next year through Small Stone. What’s changed is the release date for the LP version is now Dec. 11 and the Italian heavy-hitting four-piece have posted a lyric video for the track “Fountainhead” from the outing, which will be their third under the Isaak moniker following 2012’s The Longer the Beard, the Harder the Sound (streamed here).
Still, that’s enough of a difference to make me want to post about the record again. You’d almost think I was interested maybe in giving it an extra plug because, having listened to it, I’ve determined it’s pretty cool. Ramble on, conspiracy theorist. Either way, they get bonus points for covering Kyuss‘ “Yeah.”
The PR wire had this to say about it:
ISAAK: Genova’s badass rockers to unleash new LP “Sermonize” on Heavy Psych Sounds
If you like your rawk badass, heavy and hairy, then you’ll probably exult about the great return of Italy’s raddest stoner rockers ISAAK. With their second album to date, the Genova-based four piece is up to no good, so don’t expect to be treated cautiously: “Sermonize” is set to break down the front door this December 11.
“If you cross Genova’s narrow streets looking at people in the eyes, and reach the port and the sea, then you will understand our sound”. Leaning against their van ready for the next show, this is how ISAAK introduce theirselves in a few words. Just like their straight, powerful and uncompromising music.
Born from the ashes of Italian heavy rock four-piece Gandhi’s Gunn, it didn’t take long before ISAAK signed a worldwide deal on US label Small Stone Records, who reissued their ass-kicking debut “The Longer The Beard The Harder The Sound” in June 2013. Inspired by the big ass riffages and raw energy of leading heavy rock outfits such as Clutch, Orange Goblin or Torche, ISAAK have the knack for assembling the heaviest-sounding licks with a rip-roaring attitude that can only make you raise a fist up in the air while rocking out in the pit.
With a freshly signed deal on Heavy Psych Sounds Records, ISAAK are set to release their sophomore album “Sermonize” for a vinyl release, followed by a CD release in the beginning of 2016 on Small Stone Records.
ISAAK – New album “Sermonize” – VINYL RELEASE ONLY Out this November 27th on Heavy Psych Sounds Pre-orders from November 13that this location
TRACK LISTING: 1. Whore Horse 2. The Peak 3. Fountainhead 4. Almonds & Glasses 5. Soar 6. Showdown 7. Yeah (Kyuss) 8. Lucifer’s Roar (White Ash) 9. Lesson N.1 10. The Frown Reloaded 11. The Phil S. Theorem 12. Sermonize
ISAAK IS Giacomo H Boeddu – Vocals Andrea Tabbi De Bernardi – Drums & Vocals Francesco Raimondi – Guitars Gabriele Carta – Bass
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
Italian heavy rockers Isaak will release their new album, Sermonize, in November. Their third outing overall, it will be issued in international collusion with Heavy Psych Sounds and Small Stone. The former, countryman imprint is set for the vinyl release, whereas the Detroit label will look to have a CD out come early 2016. The band mark it as their first release under the Isaak moniker, which is fair enough, though their 2012 sophomore outing, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound (streamed here), also got issued as Isaak‘s Small Stone debut in 2013.
Either way, the art for the new one looks righteous, and the four-piece announced its arrival by unveiling that and the tracklisting. Isaak toured earlier this year in Spain and Portugal, and they’ll look to head out again come Feb. 2016. They also released a split with Mos Generator way back in January through Heavy Psych Sounds that I’ve pretty much been meaning to pick up since then. One of these days.
Album info follows:
Our new album SERMONIZE, the very first full length as Isaak, will be released later in November thanks to the amazing collaboration between the Italian HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records (for the vinyl release with a limited coloured version and a black one) and the american Small Stone Records (which will follow the CD release, expected in the very early 2016), a collaboration that will bring also several other tasty news!
Here below you can admire the cover painting by Richey Beckett (yes, THAT Richey Beckett!www.richeybeckett.com).
As always, our brother from another mother Luca SoloMacello contributed to this radness looking after the design layout.
Isaak will start an European Tour to promote Sermonize from February 2016.
There’s nothing more to say, this record will be your summer obsession even if we’re gonna release it in November, hands down!
Who the hell doesn’t want to take some time off and go spend eight days kicking around Spain and Portugal? I can’t really fault Italian heavy rocking foursome Isaak for pausing work on their next record in order to tour the Iberian Peninsula later this month, nor would I attempt to try. They’ve done plenty of touring throughout Europe, but seriously, what, they’re going to regret going to Barcelona as Spring is starting to kick in? Somehow I doubt it.
Noteworthy that Isaak say they’ll be performing material from their recent split with Mos Generator — a 12″ was released in January on Heavy Psych Sounds — since their inclusion on that split was one 15-minute psychedelic exploration they dubbed “The Choice,” and represented something of a turn from the more straightforward fare one heard on their prior Small Stone label debut, 2013’s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound (streamed here). Should make for an interesting blend on stage, and one can’t help but wonder how “The Choice” might influence Isaak‘s next work, which will presumably also be out on Small Stone later this year once they finish it when they get back from the tour.
The band sent this update down the PR wire, along with the tour poster by the venerable and increasingly ubiquitous David Paul Seymour:
ISAAK IBERIAN TOUR 2015
Isaak is hitting the road again, this time for a Spain and Portugal tour. The band is having a break from recording their new album, that will be out this year via Small Stone Records.
The guys will perform their last album as well as their fresh released 12″ split shared with Mos Generator and unleashed via Heavy Psych Sound.
Tour poster made by David Paul Seymour and printed at The Giant’s Lab. Tour promoted by Red Sound Barcellona.
20/03 – BARCELONA ( Rocksound Almogavers) 21/03 – MADRID ( Sala Barracudas) 22/03 – ESTEPONA (Louie Louie) 23/03 – CALDAS DA RAINHA (tbc) 24/03 – LISBOA ( Sabotage Club) 25/03 – VIANA DO CASTELO ( BAR Kommix) 26/03 – VIGO ( Distrito 09) 27/03 – OURENSE (el sótano) 28/03 – GORLIZ ( Xurrut)
I am a sucker for a rolling groove. One of those grooves that unfolds and is immediately hypnotic. The kind that you snap back to consciousness after it ends and wonder where the previous however-long just went. The kind where things like “measures” and “cycles” become irrelevant. Accordingly, with Bantoriak‘s “Lysergic Tantra,” it didn’t take all that long before I was on board.
The video (which you can see under the PR wire info below) comes from the Italian project’s forthcoming debut album, Weedooism, and while I’m not certain of the theological roots, the sound-as-spiritualist vibe comes through in the slow-motion swirl of effects on “Lysergic Tantra” and the melodic chanting that accompanies. Argonauta Records will have Weedooism out next month, and in addition to the work of Izio Orsini, who serves as the one-man core of the band, it also features guest vocal spots from Rosy of Profanal and Isaak‘s own Giacomo H. Boeddu.
If you find yourself looking for a trance-inducing roll, Orsini‘s got at least one on offer. This from the PR wire:
BANTORIAK: new video and cover artwork revealed
Psychedelic Doom Rock band BANTORIAK reveals the cover artwork of the forthcoming album and releases a new videoclip. The song “Lysergic Tantra” is taken from the album “Weedooism”, out April 13th 2015 on CD/DD via ARGONAUTA Records.
BANTORIAK is a project by Izio Orsini, involving other Italian musicians, that follows the one vision of an experimental work influenced by psychedelic, doom and atmospheric sound. Beyond genres, it flows as hypnotic trip from the Ganges river to the California desert, reflecting the genuine approach on the musical taste, playing entirely with 70’s vintage and handcrafted instruments. The forthcoming album, scheduled for early 2015, will feature on drums Fabio of EREMITE and guest vocals by Rosy (Profanal) and Giacomo (Isaak).
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan
Washington rock purveyors Mos Generator and Italian four-piece Isaak have set a Jan. 12, 2015, release date for a new split 12″. Heavy Psych Sounds will be handling the release. Earlier this year, the label got together Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes for a split that was promised as the first in a series, but I’m not sure if this is a continuation of that same idea — it’s half as many bands, for one thing — or a whole new deal. Either way, new Mos Generator and Isaak is nothing to complain about, however it might be positioned in the label’s catalog.
Mos Generator already have a couple recent releases under their collective belt, between their 2014 Listenable Records label debut, Electric Mountain Majesty (review here) and the self-released demo compilation Electric Nomads covering material from their last two full-lengths (review here). For Isaak, they’ve spent much of the year supporting their 2013 Small Stone release, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound, and they’ll hit the road in December once again, this time with copies of the new split in tow.
Some preliminaries on the pressing from Heavy Psych Sounds:
Mos Generator/Isaak Split Album is the new Heavy Psych Sounds Records release printed in Black Vinyl and 150 copies
LTD Red Splatter Black Vinyl Awesome Album Artwork by SoloMacello
release date 12/01/2015
We are proud and honored to announce our upcoming new split album with the amazing Mos Generator!
It will be released on a very limited edition 12″ vinyl by the great HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records on January 12, 2015 but you can grab a copy during our European Tour in December. Here you can find a sneakpeek of the stunning artwork made by our brother SoloMacello.
We really can’t wait to let you ear it, we’re sure you’re gonna dig it. SEE YOU SOON ON TOUR, STAY HEAVY! \M/
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan
Italian heavy rock four-piece Isaak are getting ready to tour in Europe once again. They released their Small Stone label debut, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound, last year, and are currently working on a follow-up, though what stage it’s actually in remains a mystery. Still, if you, say, had a post-it note with impending 2015 releases on it so you could remember them for later when you wanted to put together some kind of larger list/feature on the subject, Isaak‘s next record would be another one to add.
Not that such a post-it note exists or is already becoming overcrowded or anything. I can neither confirm nor deny, and so on.
Here’s the news:
*ISAAK* on tour ( Small Stone Records / HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS)
Isaak , born from the ashes of Gandhi’s Gunn, immediately signed a worldwide contract for two albums with the American label Small Stone Records: the critically acclaimed debut “The Longer The Beard The Harder The Sound” released in 2013 and a second one that is going to be recorded very soon. “Having the chance to release two albums for an American label and reaching metal fans all over the world it’s a great honor but also a confirmation: we always thought we had an international sound since the beginning. And you will hear it even more in the new album.”
We also managed to tour in Europe for the first time this year. Thanks to this growth and to our love for bands like Clutch, Big Business, Torche, Red Fang the sound of our next album will be something really special. With the first single “The Frown” from the imminent new album, we tested the reaction of our fans receiving amazing responses. So we realized this was the right direction to follow”.
Isaak, who developed from a stoner rock into a promising international power sound band, are ready for the challenge, determined and strong just like their music. Are you ready?
04/12/2014 IT Rome-Init “HPS Rec Label Party” 06/12/2014 IT Milano-LoFi 07/12/2014 CH 08/12/2014 D 09/12/2014 D Augsburg-Blue Box Skate Park 10/12/2014 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk 11/12/2014 CH 12/12/2014 CH Mühledorf Niedergösgen-No Mute Bandraum 27/12/2014 IT Savona- Officine Solimano Christmas Show