Holy Moses - The Agony of Death
SPV/Wacken Records
Thrash Metal
12 songs (1:09:29)
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by Charles
Those of you who are up to date on the popular music scene nowadays will know that there is a new type of rock n roll taking the world by storm. It sounds like nothing else that has ever been created before, and is sure to be looked back upon as a unique point in music history in the years to come. It is called "thrash metal", and its leading lights are visionary teenage bands such as Bonded by Blood, Gama Bomb and Merciless Death. (These bands are always wearing shirts with slogans like "Exodus" or "Kreator" on... they must be sportswear companies or something.) But now the old guys want to get in on the act! A load of old folks calling themselves things like "Destruction" or "Tankard", who've been around since the early 1980s, have started releasing albums which are blatant ripoffs of Toxic Holocaust and Guillotine. Who knows what kind of music they were playing before... Nice try, grandpa!

Ho ho. Enough joking. Holy Moses' tenth full-length album, The Agony of Death, without wanting to detract from the retro-thrash bands, some of whom have released great albums, is the real deal. Very heavy, very tight, and very brutal, it is one of my own favourite thrash albums of 2008.

Holy Moses in 2008 have a lot in common with the Holy Moses of 1986/87. They still occupy the more punishing end of the thrash spectrum, with Sabina Classen's powerful growling vocals giving the band almost a death metal feel at times. But unsurprisingly, given all that has happened in metal in the last 20 years, as well as turbulence in the band's own lineup, there are plenty of differences as well. Whilst records such as Finished with the Dogs really take your breath away with their ferocious, raw procession of batterringly fast and brutal riffs, The Agony of Death is actually quite refined and even subtle on occasion. It incorporates a wider range of influences, but they are blended in tastefully and effectively, leaving no doubt that this is the band's own sound, rooted in classic Teutonic thrash. There's the very occasional odd time shift and one thudding breakdown that make you think that somebody in the band has been listening to Meshuggah. Don't be alarmed, but there is also a strong hint of Gothenburg at times. Put the forks down, it's not in an "I'm going to bludgeon my ears with rusty cutlery if I have to hear this sound again" kind of way. It's more like "hey, those tasteful twin lead guitars really add an incisive melodic edge to that riffing on Pseudohalluzination." What the hell, there's even a futuristic church organ type of sound tastefully underlying the shouted gang choruses of Dissociative Disorder. Holy Moses do what real musicians should, taking inspiration from other artists and synthesising that inspiration into their own identity. Such is how art progresses.

The Agony of Death is really excellent; a tour de force of uncompromising but inventive thrash. A lot of retro-bands would probably give their legs to be able to recreate the kind of monstrous energy captured on Holy Moses' earlier records. But it's pretty much implicit in the definition of the prefix "retro" that they can't. The flip side of that is that Holy Moses in 2008 won't be able to generate the same kind of shouty youthful enthusiasm that enables Bonded by Blood to (sort of) get away with covering the theme from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without looking like complete tossers. The Agony of Death, for all its energy, also sounds like a record that comes from experience and hard work. That's really why there is ample room for both old and new thrash metal acts in the world of today. They may play the same type of music by name, but they approach it from entirely different angles, and with different results.

Killing Songs :
World in Darkness, Dissociative Disorder
Charles quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Holy Moses that we have reviewed:
Holy Moses - Strength, Power, Will, Passion reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
Holy Moses - Disorder Of The Order reviewed by Danny and quoted 78 / 100
Holy Moses - Master Of Disaster reviewed by Danny and quoted 68 / 100
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