The menacing, crime-ridden garage rock of the Sermon is a break from the usual hippie-dippy fare. This SF gang of five sticks to its themes of murder and revenge, firing off cathartic, violent blasts of guitar at those they hate and desire to extinguish. It's not the '60s of flower power and shiny harmonies that the Sermon conjures up, but the era of Charles Manson, blood-splattered walls, and hippies gone homicidal.
One guitarist works in the San Francisco police crime lab, while screamer Mike Gabriel, who also plays the theremin, is responsible for the twisted lyrics. The subject matter is thus pretty fucked up, as on "No Beast So Fierce": I'll cut you down where you stand/And locks don't mean nothin'/And I know how to wait/by your back door/your garden gate/If you're asleep now/if you're awake/And there's no/No beast so fierce. Pissed and unhinged, the enraged howling and jagged guitar recall Black Flag at its meanest.
"Luzerne County," meanwhile, is a pleasant ditty about a man who's stuffed in a trunk as he pleads for his life and family, and is then smashed over the head with a rock and dumped in coal near the county line. A song about inner torments, "The Other Side of the Mirror," concerns an insane person living in a house with two sets of curtains to keep the light out, who eventually travels to the other side of that mirror, Twilight Zone-style.
An upside-down leafless tree on Volume's cover is likely to attract unsuspecting death metalers, who may or may not dig the Sermon's raw garage sound. But really, it's aspiring serial killers and smalltime scumbags (as well as fans of scuzzy punk) who should find inspiration in the Sermon's unrepentant sickness.
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