Yep, you read that right. Thirty damned years including a couple of minor ‘holidays’ due to splits and serious illness is how long Teutonic metal heads Holy Moses have been thrashing it up. Thirty. Yeah they were one of the originals. Now if that isn’t passion, determination and commitment I don’t know what is. This is going to be hard though: How do you review a double album of re-recordings of tracks by the current line up spanning the career of a band?
Ok assuming you are a fan already then the inclusion of a couple of new tracks, a really nice digipack (a photoshopped Sabina Classen literally on fire) and a booklet of notes and photos is the hook, but seeing as Holy Moses are far too often the criminally underrated and unsung heroes of thrash maybe we can treat this as an introduction to the band? It also cuts out having to rehash the personnel shuffles. You need to know about the music.
Holy Moses play a pumped up, high energy brand of thrash in a relentless, heavy and aggressive death vocal style. Huge kick driven drumming from Gerd Lucking rounded out by Thomas Neitsch thundering bass, classic twin guitar choppy riffs and dancing leads with death metal inflected density from Oliver Jaath and Peter Getalt. And those harsh, vicious vocals? They emanate from the throat of the indomitable Sabina Classen who really is the driving force of the band. They also don’t really do ballads, so twenty two tracks at a run is brutal and exhausting.
Worth it though. Really.
From the off the energy levels are punching you in the face with the glorious ‘Clash My Soul’ from their 1992 album Reborn Dogs. It’s like a flash grenade going off about three feet from your face. Hear it and in your mind all you can see is a mass of head bangers, patched denim cut-offs over leather and hair flying. Breakneck riff and one of those great bouncing hyperactive thrash rhythms welded together by hoarse, throat tearing vocals. So dense it’s in the same kind of ballpark as deaththrashers One Man Army And The Undead Quartet but still retaining a furious thrash purity.
There’s songs here spanning their time from demo days (‘Walpurgisnacht’ was on their 1983 demo as well as their Queen Of Siam debut full length) to the new songs ‘Borderland’ with it’s catchy chorus and gang vocals and the more driven and death metal tinged ‘Entering The Now’. It’s top notch stuff for thrash fans and with so many tracks on offer it is a valid showcase for the talent herein. Take a listen to the pounding ‘Def Con II’ or the simmering menace of ‘ Creation Of Violation’ which gives classic Kreator more than a run for their money. Then there’s the hook riddled ‘Disorder Of The Order’ from their 2002 album with it’s deceptively languid melody weaving around the jagged riff and the quasi-industrial/martial rhythms gone Slayer of ‘SSP’ from three years earlier. There really are gems scattered around everywhere you turn on this compilation.
This isn’t beer, bong and party thrash (not that there’s anything wrong with that either), it is heads down head banging stuff with anger brimming over every growl and celebration just in the energy.
It also should be mentioned how tight the band are; moving and rippling like a well muscled beast losing none of the spontaneity in the process and with a lean and healthy looking Sabina Classen on the mic it really is a bit of a throwdown to some of the younger bands thrashing away out there.
Unlike when Amorphis revisited their early years I have to say that I have never heard Holy Moses more bright, aggressive and enthusiastic: It’s a good to great selection of their past and present and their particular brand of well crafted, muscular and catchy thrash and these new versions are excellent. It’s a pretty good place to start if this is new territory for you: Buy this and then seek out the albums your favourites come from.
Come on in and show Ms Classen and the boys a bit of metal thrashing love.