Late April the highly underappreciated Holy Moses released their eleventh album, Redefined Mayhem. These German thrashers deserve more credit for being among the first to introduce the genre into this region of the world and help lay the foundation of the strong Teutonic thrash scene. Moreover, Holy Moses can claim they have one of the very first women behind the microphone using death growls. For those that believe Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy) deserves this honor, it is interesting to point out that Sabine Classen was doing her thing already when Angela was still in elementary school. Sabine has been barking away at the audience since 1981. Although not a founding member she has been the only permanent member of Holy Moses for many years. In fact only Thomas Neitsch on bass was around during the band’s previous release ‘Agony of Death’ in 2008. For ‘Redefined Mayhem’ drummer Gerd Lücking joined the ranks three years ago, and guitarist Peter Geltat was hired in 2012. Let’s see what the band has been up to in those six years since their last release.
Holy Moses has been around long enough to see trends come and go and they are wise to implement only the interesting parts of some of these genres into their music. I appreciate the technicalities in Holy Moses’ thrash. It’s not always straightforward and they take the time to build up a song like on “Into The Dark” and “One Step Ahead of Death”. The band combines speed with technique and songs like “Undead Dogs” or “Fading Realities” showcase Geltat’s capability for playing strong solos. The melodic parts sometimes incline towards a more melodic death feeling. This can be explained as we see that engineering duties were done by Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquility, Extol). But don’t be deceived, above all we hear a solid foundation of thrash from this new line-up. Drums are pounding strong and the guitar riffs are tight. Holy Moses fans will not discover any surprises from Sabine’s death growls and the occasional witch-like screams (for example on “Triggered”). But it just adds to the respect I have for this woman. After 30 years in her career she sounds so raw and more aggressive than many other younger vocalists out there. In several songs we are shouted at with increased force by the rest of the band as well.
Although the band delivers a modern thrash album, the statement that they redefined mayhem might be a bit too bold, though. The album is not a return to Holy Moses’ glory days, but I can definitely call it a strong and consistent album of a band that has nothing left to prove. Rather than making the same music as 30 years ago they keep evolving and trying out new elements without forsaking the traditional thrash attitude. I appreciate a band that just does as they like without trying to impress too many people. With the risk of disappointing the grumpy old fans who think we’re still in the ‘80s or ‘90s, the clean production might bother fans who prefer a dirtier sound and who say that it devalues the thrashy sound. Overall, a very decent album and for younger fans who did not get into Holy Moses’ music, this is the time to do so!