Breaking the age old proverbial mouth seems to be the theme for this year. Trying desperately not to be bored by anything that’s remotely Djent or Core, I have forced myself out of my comfort zone by indulging in bands I wouldn’t otherwise not even be aware existed. Holy Moses is one such band. Admitted, I did laugh at the name a bit, but then I heard “Redefining Mayhem” in its entirety and pulled the plug on my 5th grader sense of humour. “Redefining Mayhem” is a presage to what the Thrash flavoured, female-fronted 4 piece have up their sleeves.
Evidently, defining the true meaning for the term “underground”, Holy Moses have escaped the spotlight miraculously and to much surprise. The Thrash Metallers with a palette for experimenting with Melodeath, Speed and even Groove influences on their compositions have been around since the 80s and have put out more than 10 albums worth of music in these 30 odd years. This in a broader aspect makes us stop and re-evaluate the role of the better sex in the foundation of Heavy Metal. With so much, well-warranted, admiration being heaped on the mainstream female fronted Metal acts, the Sabina Classen’s have still remained underground, a cult favourite if you will, long before since most of us were born.
“Redefining Mayhem” sees the 4 piece unleash their time tested Thrash assault. First track “Helhound” is a throwback to their familiar formula of Classen’s uncompromising growls that move to and fro from mid-range fries and barks to screeches. Given that the band has undergone a change in the line up with “Redefining Mayhem”, one might expect them to test some uncharted waters. However the band has opted to reaffirm their cult status with tracks like “Triggered” and “Undead Dogs”. There are strains of Melodeath inspired riffs, although that might just be a personal inference. The sum of efforts is more than entertaining to say the least. Drummer Gerd Lücking leaves no stone unturned as he skin-slams through the tracklist relentlessly.
Peter Geltat does his due diligence by delivering excellent backing vocals, along with bassist Niesch, as confirmed by his booming low backing chants in the first few tracks. Although the guitars do not accomplish anything remotely genre-bending as such, Gelat is savvy enough to churn some memorable riffs and solos to keep things interesting. Given someone who often has a complaint about the production being lacklustre or too over-polished, “Redefined Mayhem” works wonders for my ears because producer Tue Madsen (Dark Tranquillity) has done a dapper job of capturing the essence of Holy Moses’ brand of Thrash with his deft work behind the console: Every note that Thomas Neitsch plays is not only audible but you can actually tell when he plays what he plays. That’s a pro in my books.
The aforementioned Melodeath influence is further held up in tracks like “Into the Dark” and “Whet the Knife”. The thrashier side of this woman with a vitriol spewing larynx to boot is heard on the tracks “Sacred Sorrows”, “Process of Projection” “Delusion”, etc. This not only speaks about how versatile Holy Moses is as a band but also reignites the question in the minds of the Metalhead with a thinking cap, “Why wasn’t I aware of this band or Sabina Classen before this?!” Playing to their strengths, Holy Moses have re-visited their comfort zones to produce the gem that is “Reinventing Mayhem”; it only enables the free thinking Metalhead to wonder what these 4 consider breaking the mould to be.
Make no mistake, “Redefining Mayhem” has a couple of nuances that might not sit well with every listener, but for the most part it’s an interesting array of tracks, and if you are a new fan of the band as I am, “Reinventing Mayhem” is a good place to start researching on this stellar German Thrash act as any. And face facts, wouldn’t you rather that this is the Thrash album that starts your little brother or 10 year old son’s journey into the world of Metal, instead of a “St. Anger” or a “Death Magnetic”?
Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical jibe.