Holy Moses - 15/11/2008

The roots of HOLY MOSES go all the way back to 1980! Ramon Bruessler and Jochen Fuenders founded the band. The band got the kick start they needed in 1981 when Sabina and Andy Classen joined. Sabina's jackhammer voice, along with Andy's heavy riffs set the metal world on its ear. Over the next four years the band released three demos. Eventually the tapes found their way to Ralph Hubert's office from Aaarrg! records who put the band on the Metallic Bunnys sampler in early 1986.

 

The band garnered a huge underground following throughout the mid to late 80s, culminating in a huge push in 1989 from WEA Records. Holy Moses released their third sonic blast entitled "The New Machine Of Liechtenstein" in 1989. This was the finest hour for Holy Moses as the band toured throughout Europe. Sabina Classen was considered to be the new leader in the thrash scene. She did many interviews and even hosted "Mosh" a heavy metal show on the RTL network. Forming her own label West Virginia Records, and releasing the band's next four albums. The band officially called it quits in 1992, but released "No Matter What's the Cause" in 1994 as sort of an epilogue, on Steamhammer Records.

 

Fast forward to 2000: Sabina, after releasing two CDs with the band Temple of the Absurd, felt the time was right to once again resurrect Holy Moses. The violence and aggression still permeated her heart and soul. She went to Andy Classen, who runs Stage One Studios, and pitched the idea of reforming the band. Needless to say all went well and the result was ‘Master of Disaster’, which was released in 2001. Now once again poised to reclaim the title of the leaders in the thrash world. Holy Moses previous album ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ was released in September 2005. The group's tenth album was the follow-up to 2002's ‘Disorder of the Order’, which came out through Century Media.

 

‘Agony of Death’, the new HOLY MOSES album, was released on September 29 in Europe via Wacken Records/SPV. The CD was recorded at the Blue Castle Studio near Hamburg with producer/guitar player Michael Hankel. Members of Destruction, Obituary and Axel Rudi Pell are among the guest musicians who appear on the album.

 

 

It seemed there is much to talk about so we had a conversation with front woman Sabina Classen (vocals). Here you can read what she had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

Your new album ‘Agony Of Death’ was recently released in Europe, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.

 

First of all, congrats on your new album. How are you doing?

Sabina: I’m doing great, thank you! We’re on tour right now and that is exactly where we like to be!

 

It’s been a couple of years since ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ came out, so it seems you took your time for the new record. How did you launch into writing material for ‘Agony Of Death’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

Sabina: The album took about three years to come together. That was indeed a lot longer than ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’, but that is also the reason why the new album sounds so much better. We had more time to prepare ourselves and we had more time to put into the production. For me, that meant I could put more time into my vocals as well, so I could really get the best out of it. All together, I think that’s why ‘Agony of Death’ is a great album.

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Sabina: Let’s just say I was very inspired at the time. We have a great line up and we’ve done a lot of live shows the last few years and that all works very inspiring.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Agony Of Death’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

Sabina: my first goal was to make a great album. I wanted to do a real aggressive pure thrash album with a lot of intensive lyrics. Also I want to be on a real world tour. So it was very important to me to work hard on the album. I never know what will be the result, but this time I felt that we would do something special.

 

Why did you opt for atmospheric intro's and outro's for the songs on the cd?

Sabina: We started experimenting with that with the song “Pseudohalluzination”. I really think it gives the song an extra edge and from there we decided to work with it a little more. We’ve had mixed reactions to it, but the ones who don’t like it can also buy the normal jewel case, which doesn’t include any of the intros and outros.

 

What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics and can you tell me a little more about them?

Sabina: As you may have seen in the song titles, a lot of them refer to psychological illnesses or the state of the human mind. I have always been very interested in psychology and I guess that interest fueled the lyrics on this album. ‘The Agony of Death’ is the struggle a patient has with his own death when it nears. So you can see this as a theme album, rather than a concept album. It’s not one book with twelve chapters, it’s more like twelve books on a part of Agony of Death, you see? And of course there is “Bloodbound of the Damned”, which is a tribute to our wonderful fan club. They are crazy too, but in a good way!

 

 

Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

Sabina: first I start to write the lyrics independently. When I am ready, I start comparing my lyrics with the music and I choose the right song which fits to my feelings in the text. It’s hard do describe in written words, because it’s a kind of feeling how songs and lyrics come together J.

 

Maybe I should describe each song – and how I see the lyrics with the music:

 

Imagination

A speedy, full-in-the-face old-skool thrash number, full speed ahead! It gives you strength, energy and power for the struggle against death. That’s why it comes first on the track listing. It’s the skill to develop or remember concepts, ideas or images which aren’t physically there. Imagination is the capability of perceiving inner or mental images. These inner images resemble visions, their creation can be supported and modified deliberately. They can give you strength in the struggle against death, and they can give you courage. They relax you and give you the energy you need. At the same time, you find yourself building up energy fields. These consciously experienced visions act as a mediator between your conscious and subconscious mind. Your true strength to defend yourself against evil lies in your subconscious mind.

 

Alienation

A fierce and fast typical Moses speed number with catchy shouts and an ingenious solo. Definitely another hit on this CD. Alienation describes an individual or social state in which a relationship that was originally intended to be organic (between human beings, a person and their job, people and the product of their labour, or a person and his self) is annihilated, reversed or destroyed. Very intense lyrics which argue that people - through purely profit-oriented production processes (surplus value according to Marx) - are alienated from the product they produce as well as from themselves. Another chapter in that agonal state that’s part of the battle between the EGO and the powers.

 

World In Darkness

A melodious, catchy tune with real hit potential, Mille’s (Kreator) favourite on this album. Tough nuances with a haunting, unbeatable chorus and an ingenious solo at the beginning, courtesy of Ralph Santolla (Obituary), which he recorded backstage during our joint tour in January. This song just has to be performed live on stage! The lyrics are about the ambivalence of suicide visions in which you are at odds with your own agony of death.

 

Bloodbound Of The Damned

A typical up-tempo Moses speedster with definite bawl-along potential, destined to be a live fave. Its message says clearly and precisely that you will never lose a battle as long as you’re part of a community that loves you and picks you up. Accept the help that is offered, embark on the hard path together. It’s the power of community, no matter where you are. Together we can brave the “Agony of Death”. Sign a mental contract against death.

 

Pseudohalluzination

A technically intricate, epic, complex song, an incredibly cool Moses offering with great quotes such as “The Machine Is Back”. It becomes evident that the death machine is still alive. It accompanies us on our path through life. We made ourselves believe that we had conquered the death struggle. Is it only an illusion that the machine continues to live? We can’t see the machine, but we can feel it. So the person hallucinating knows that their perceptions are not based on sensory stimuli, they’re pseudo-hallucinations. They are aware that it’s not real, but mentally the machine exists inside our body, which makes it visible.

 

Angels Are In War    

A fast number with hook guarantee, Kerry King & Co. couldn’t have done better (*gg*). It’s a clear declaration of war against the people who want you to lose the fight against death, and their actions. Fight tooth and nail, you’re strong enough, you know who you are, demonstrate the strength of your inner self. NOTHING and nobody will bring you down, you’re strong enough, you have the power. Others may lose their battle, but you won’t!

 

Schizophrenia

Another specimen of a perfect track in the style you all know and love from Holy Moses’ ‘Finished With The Dogs’ and ‘Liechtenstein’ days, deliciously intricate, technically complex and at the same time full of catchy hooks, with a “schizophrenic” chorus. It’s an alienation of body and soul. In this agony of death, thoughts are instilled from outside, resulting in madness and hallucination. You can hear voices speaking to you, and they can be imperative. Face those voices and don’t lose the battle, reconnect your body with your soul. The voice of the exceptional singer, Henning Basse (Sons Of Season; Metalium), was integrated into this song in an ingenious manner.

 

Dissociative Disorder

A catchy thrash number in the true sense of the word, an incredible emotional roller coaster ride with earthy shouts and an epic ending. It’s a partial and at times total disconnection of mental and physical functions, when you notice that you could in fact lose the struggle against death. These emotions are accompanied by amnesia, fugue, stupor, apraxia, cramp attacks. You find yourself suffering from paraesthesia and acroparaesthesia, Ganser syndrome and multiple personality disorders just so you don’t have to feel the lost battle any longer, disconnecting yourself altogether.

 

The Cave (Paramnesia)

A truly tough number with a lot of drive, hook-oriented chorus and phat background shouts which invite the listener to sing along to. The lyrics are about paramnesia, delusions of memory, disturbances of memory. They are about recollections of events which never took place but keep you captive as if you were locked up in a cage. A continuous agony of death that takes place in your head.

 

Delusional Denial

“Delusional Denial” is a straightforward, short, full-in-the-face number. It’s the power of bewilderment which makes the battle against death seem lost. You’re told something which only exists in the mind of the power which tells it to you and it doesn’t have anything to do with the given situation. This power incites you to confabulate, mixing up your own recollections and distracting you from you own struggle against death.

 

The Retreat

An absolute riff and drum inferno, extremely versatile, slightly intricate, featuring that typical Holy Moses complexity again; a real riff explosion. It’s that positive explosion in your brain once you’ve calmed down. In a specific place (The Retreat – founded by W. Tuke in York around 1800, the first private hospital, the first form of psychiatry in a rural environment). Retreat to the place that you need, surrounded by forests and nature, away from other people who are killing you and your soul. Isolate yourself and draw the strength that you need. Then face the fight against mental death. First you have to find yourself again, be convinced of your inner strength, and you will find yourself strengthened and ready for the path that lies ahead of you.

 

Through Shattered Mind

A powerfully stomping track with a cool chorus, great shouts and groovy solo part. The song stomps through your brain, making you realise: if you give up the struggle against death, you will lose your life. Even if you’re not really dead in the physical sense + you still are +, at least mentally, because you’ve given yourself up and don’t want to fight any more. That’s what you have to realise, don’t give up, fight tooth and nail against the influences which are trying to make you powerless.

 

 

Agony Of Death (instrumental)

Have you won the fight? Will there be a continuation of life or death on the next album?

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Agony Of Death’, what inspired the name of the album, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Sabina: Agony of Death is the main theme and each song decribes one kind of Agony of Death. All is inspired by life.

 

After the release of ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ you had a couple of line-up changes. Can you give us a short introduction of the new members, who they are, were you found these guys?

Sabina: That’s right, only me and guitar player Michael remained. However, we had been working with Olli for a couple of years already. He first played bass for us. We know him because he plays guitar for Reckless Tide, a wonderful band and great friends of ours. He made the switch to second guitar, because we were already thinking of that for a while. A bass player was found quickly, as we found out our webmaster Thomas was also a kick ass bass player. He also plays in a great Metal band called Desilence. And then of course, there is Atomic Steiff, who played with Holy Moses before. Also in Sodom. We’re glad to have him back. It was kind of funny: the night before I phoned him if he wanted to re-join Holy Moses, he dreamed that I would do that!

 

Did these line-up changes have an influence on the new songs and did the new guys contribute to the songs or add new elements on ‘Agony Of Death’?

Sabina: Well, everybody contributed to the new record. Thomas came in later than the rest, so there aren’t many of his ideas on there, but Michael, Olli and Steiff all worked together on the music. And I think that shows. I think ‘Agony of Death’ is the most “together” sounding work we have done in a long time.

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?

Sabina: I really don’t know how to put that into words, but being in Holy Moses for 27 years, I think I do know what a Holy Moses song should sound like. I should be able to put my heart and soul in it in the first place!

 

How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for the well received ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ and what do you think are the main differences between your previous albums and ‘Agony Of Death’?

Sabina: Once again, time was an important factor for that. I don’t only think ‘Agony of Death’ sounds more together, it also sounds less clinical than ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’. There are great songs on ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’, I mean...at every show, people go crazy at “End of Time” for instance, I just think ‘Agony of Death’ is overall a better song.

 

 

About song writing, how can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Holy Moses? For example, is it a group process or did some people write more than others?

Sabina: this is always a kind of chaos hahahaha, and no real direction. Sometimes each of  us writes a song and afterwords we all work on it, sometimes songs come together because we all sit together and working on them.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

Sabina: we all write what comes in our minds, we never write only to have more songs…this is impossible…..first you need a kind of feeling, an idea and then you can write…and sometimes first we have a melodyline and we check my lyrics so we can see if that melodyline and feeling fit the words I wrote.

 

Guitar player Michael Hankel was responsible for the production, did you run into any difficulties doing the production yourself?

Sabina: I try to assist him, because I know how I want it to sound, Michael is just very good at making it sound that way. I think he did a good job on ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’ and I think he did an even better job this time around.

 

Did you want to preserve the vision you have for Holy Moses by taking control of the production? And would you ever work with a producer external to the band if your label asked you to work with, say for example Andy Sneap?

Sabina: We have worked with outside producers in the past, but to be honest, taking the time in your own environment to eventually come out with an album that you are fully satisfied with is the perfect way to do it for me!

 

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

Sabina: Yes, we talked to our fans about it on tour and they seem to be quite happy with it. In addition, we also keep an eye on the reviews on the internet, but there’s so many of them, we can’t see them all, can we?

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

Sabina: Well, of course the opinions of our fans count. Our fans are very important to me, they are my family. It wouldn’t have made sense to write a song for them if it didn’t matter to me, would it? As for the press, you read what they say and you take some things into account, but it’s not the end of the world when my favorite magazine doesn’t like it. Most magazines react quite positively to ‘Agony of Death’ though!

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Sabina: As of now, I am very happy!

 

Which element of the CD are you most proud of?

Sabina: “Agony of Death”. And that is not a publicity thing!

 

Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song do you find is the most challenging one to play live?

Sabina: this is so hard to say – because I love all of the songs. So I always put this thing to our fans and they help us to put the setlist together.

 

With all the touring and several albums under your belt, how far has Holy Moses surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

Sabina: The fans, always the reaction of the fans. When I started out, I could never have imagined people would be this warm and this loving to me and my band. They truly are my family, there is no other word for it. When I left Holy Moses for a little while in the nineties, I missed them and they made me want to return. Now I won’t leave them!

 

You guys have been in the metal-scene for 30 years or so, do you feel there is much happening for the scene and is there anything missing in the scene?

Sabina: Every time has its good things and bad things, even the eighties. I think the movement has been growing stronger recently. At least here in Germany. There’s more bands and more people who come to the shows and listen to the music. That’s a good thing. As long as these people are there, there’s no need to complain!

 

What can we expect from Holy Moses in the future and where do you see the band going within the next 5 years?

Sabina: A lot of live playing, a lot of fun and hopefully a new album!

 

Thanks for your time and we wish you all the best with the band!!

 

 

Current members:

Sabina Classen - Vocals

Michael Hankel - Guitar

Oliver Jaath - Guitar

Atomic Steiff - Drums

Thomas Neitsch - Bass  

 
 

Former members

 

Vocals:

Jochen Fünders - (1980-1981)

Iggy - (1981)

Tom Hirtz - (four weeks in 1984)

Andy Classen - (1994)

 

Guitars:

Jochen Fünders - (1980-1981)

Jean-Claude - (1981)

Andy Classen - (1981-1994)

Georgie Symbos - (1987)

Thilo Hermann - (1988)

Rainer Laws - (1988-1990)

Jörn Schubert - (2000-2002)

Franky Brotz - (2000-2005)

 

Bass:

Ramon Brüssler - (1980-1986)

Andre Chapelier - (1986-1987)

Johan Susant - (1987)

Thomas Becker - (1988-1990)

Ben Schnell - (1990-1992)

Dan Lilker - (1993-1994)

Jochen Fünders - (2000-2001)

Andreas Libera - (2001-2003)

Alex De Blanco - (2003-2005)

 

Drums:

Peter Vonderstein - (1980-1981)

Paul Linzenich - (1981-1984)

Snake - (1984-1985)

Herbert Dreger - (1985-1986)

Uli Kusch - (1986-1990)

Meff - (1992-1994)

Julien Schmidt - (2000-2005)

 

Albums:

Queen of Siam - (1986)

Finished With the Dogs - (1987)

The New Machine of Lichtenstein - (1989)

World Chaos - (1990)

Terminal Terror - (1991)

Reborn Dogs - (1992)

No Matter What's the Cause - (1994)

Master of Disaster - (2001)

Disorder of the Order - (2002)

Strength Power Will Passion - (2005)

Agony of Death - (2008)