Monster Riff recently published a review of fellow Italian doom rockers Warcoe and mentioned that Italy doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the heavy output… but here we are again! Another fantastic Stoner Rock band from Italy.
No frills necessary, Hey is a straightforward album, never hiding what it is. What it is, though, is heavy, riff-fueled Stoner Rock. There are moments that remind me of old-school Stoner Rock, resembling one of my absolute favorite albums, Astroqueen’s Into Submission. Other moments toe a line between Heavy Metal and Punk.
The band proclaims Hey is “a manifesto on being fragile and making that fragility a strength.”
Isaak is an Italian Stoner Rock band, active since 2011. After a seven-year absence, the Genoan rockers are back with their third album and their brand of self-described “riffalicious fast-forward stoner rock”.
- Giacomo Boeddu – Vocals
- Francesco Raimondi – Guitars
- Gabriele Carta – Bass
- Davide Foccis – Drums
Isaak – ‘Hey’ Album Review
Release Date: March 31, 2023
Record Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Track 1: Miracle B
I can already tell I’m going to like these guys… This is not your typical “instrumental intro with random audio samples” that so many bands seem to use to kick off their albums. I sense a little bit of humor here? A little tongue in cheek perhaps, but it’s their take on the overdone album intro.
Track 2: Hey
They’re kicking things off now with a high-energy title track. Equal parts Queens of the Stone Age and Gozu. If the rest of the album is anything like this, I might just stomp a hole in the floor by the end of it. I’m also a sucker for a good “Woo!”
Track 3: OBG
This is what I’m talking about! More fuzz-fueled energy, and I couldn’t help but getting “I know where I’m going!” stuck in my head for the remainder of the day. Isaak details OBG as, “an old school stoner song that talks about how it is necessary nowadays to get back in touch with yourself, look inside yourself and not outside, leaving appearances alone but giving importance to who we really are.”
Track 4: Except
The third single taken from Hey. It appears Isaak is capable of slowing things down a bit as this one begins. They show a moodier side of things, but they don’t sacrifice any heaviness here.
Track 5: Rotten
I’m noticing more and more metal riffing under the Stoner Rock voice of this album, and I’m OK with it! This track is a great example. Remove Boeddu’s vocals and this could easily play as a metal track. I’m just glad they lean into the Stoner Rock sound.
Track 6: Over the Edge
This is a cover of the classic Wipers tune, although it certainly sounds like it could have been their own. They do a great job of creating an Isaak tune out of it without losing the original essence. However, the choice to include the cover on the album, particularly as track six, was slightly surprising to me. Just as I’m getting to know this band and their music, they threw me off a little with the cover slipped in there.
Track 7: Dormouse
“Dormouse” is a banger! This track hit me like an empty beer bottle from across the room just as a biker brawl breaks out in a sleazy bar. I know I’m in danger, but I kind of don’t want it to end. There are a few different directions this one takes, and it just makes for an epic tune. It explodes through a fiery, riff-filled haze before taking a turn into a moodier second act. If this doesn’t get used in a fight scene of a movie, someone should get fired.
Track 8: Fake it Till You Make It
Groovy and infectious with a thunderous bass line, this one could be a radio Grunge hit, if only they weren’t about 25 years too late.
Track 9: Taste 2.0
This one builds and builds on a groovy bass and guitar tag team, but the climax left me wondering if they could have done a little more here. However, they do pick up the pace again towards the three-minute mark. They really tried to throw a lot of different elements into this one, but the final result was a little lackluster.
Track 10: Sleepwalker
These guys know how to execute the fast-paced heavy, Rock-n-Roll! The onslaught of sound borders on Heavy Metal here, but remains infectious and fuzzy throughout. This one’s a headbanger.
Track 11: Goodbyes are Always Very Sad
There’s something slightly more moody and heartfelt about this track and yet somehow it will still punch you right in the gut. Isaak wraps things up with some of the finest work on the entire record. From the vocals to the bass lines, everything has a moment to shine. I can honestly say I am, in fact, very sad to say goodbye to this album…
Final Thoughts on Hey
Standout Tracks: “Hey,” “OBG,” “Sleepwalker”
Final Score: 8.5/10
Pros: There’s not a bad track on this record. It’s fun, it’s riffy, it’s energetic rock music. The perfect soundtrack for any fast-paced car chase, bar room brawl, or beer guzzling rendezvous.
Cons: ‘Hey’ is incredibly consistent, almost to the point of wishing they might step just outside of their comfort zone for a few minutes.