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With Sabina Classen off promoting the absurdly weak Temple of the Absurd and Andy Classen having transformed Holy Moses into some sort of hardcore/death metal hybrid, it was pretty clear that the natives were restless by the mid-90s. So when the German thrash staple took a dirt nap for the foreseeable future, it was an understandable and welcome maneuver. But it wouldn't last forever. Come the 21st century, after a few health concerns for Sabina that included accidents on both the live stage and a motorcycle, Temple of the Absurd called it quits, the Classens reunited to write some new material for their delinquent musical entity, and were picked up by the now massive Century Media label for the Master of Disaster EP and Disorder of the Order full-length.
This is a sort of 'no hard feelings' reunion that does warm the heart and reeks of maturity. But by this time, Andy Classen had also grown as a recording engineer and producer, so he would not be committing full-time to Holy Moses, and remained on only for songwriting and backing vocals. So Holy Moses got an entirely new backing band: Jörn Schubert, Franky Brotz, Jochen Fünders, and Julien Schmidt, all of whom were kicking around in lesser known German acts, but prove that together they know how to tear out some god damned thrash. Master of Disaster is not a bold new direction for the band, but a return to their late 80s thrashing with a glossy mix and some slight modernization. It's also the strongest release the band had issued since 1991's The New Machine of Liechtenstein, with a vicious appeal and well structured riffing that seemed to mirror the newfound inspiration of the more prominent German thrashers Destruction, Sodom and Kreator, all of which had cast their lot forcefully back into the purebred thrash pageant by 2001.
All of the five tracks here are well managed, but I feel like it functions on the strength of two in particular. "The Hand of Death" is simply my favorite track the band recorded since "Current of Death", which is amusing since they are similar in thrust and aggression, but Sabina was using a more rasped vocal style here, and instead of a soaring clean chorus, the band uses glinting and sad guitar melodies which really drive the verse rhythms home. "Feel the Pain" is also quite excellent, mid-paced battering with semi-tech, clinical riffs and thrifty micro-leads that sail along with the verse vocals. The remaining tunes are also explosive, especially "Taste My Blood" which is sheer excess and violence, but I didn't find their construction quite so memorable. The title cut is worthwhile, but "Down On Your Knees" is probably the least impressive, using a lot of bounce riffs and harmonics to lesser effect.
The EP is definitely not perfect, but it also bears the feel of a phoenix having sorted out its affairs and come back from the ashes of demise. As a renewed statement of intent, it hearkens back to what made the band great by the later 80s, and it appears the Classens had shaken the Seattle and hardcore trends out of their respective systems. I can't say I'm fond of the 'female icon' cover art the band would start to use here, which supposedly represents Sabina herself and comes off as both cheesy and egotistical, a motif which had been absent in their past albums... But hell every Gothic fairycore band was using their frontwoman as a pin-up, so why not an actual metal singer like Sabina?
Shortly after the "Hardcore album" 'No Matter What's The Cause', Holy Moses disbanded. In the years to follow, Sabina Classen worked with her other band Temple Of The Absurd and Andy Classen focused on producing albums rather than making music himself. Luckily, Sabina and Andy rejoined forces early in the new century and the first recordings were released on an EP called 'Master Of Disaster'.
And holy shit what an EP it is! Holy Moses is reborn in every thinkable aspect! Instead of trying to reproduce the vintage Holy Moses sound as perfect as possible (if there ever was any anyway, every album sounded a little different), they have chosen a direction that is Thrashier, even more vicious and has even more of a bite than the "original" Holy Moses already had. People who doubted if Holy Moses should be reformed would have their doubts taken away by this EP: Holy Moses prove to be ready for the 21st century with 'Master Of Disaster'!
Opening the album is one of my personal Holy Moses-favorites. It's the title track of the EP and it has all the elements a Thrash song should have nowadays: fast drums, guitar riffs that bite through anything that crosses their path and intense vocals. Especially the latter deserves an honorable mention, because Sabina seems to have improved during her absence from Holy Moses! Her screams and grunts are even more intense and aggressive than back in the early days. And Andy's backings are back with a vengeance too, they make the chorus a little catchy.
'The Hand Of Death' is a Thrasher that's beyond belief as well, both Andy and Sabina are really on the verge of insanity in this track. The tempo of the track is higher than I could ever expect it to be and the changes are interesting. There's only one word that describes this track and that is INTENSE! Okay, maybe there's another one...FAST!!! 'The Hand Of Death' is really a track that should be heard by any Thrasher who doesn't think Thrash Metal stopped around 1990 (it didn't). Some reunions just aren't good enough but this song alone proves that this one is!
'Master Of Disaster' and 'The Hand Of Death' are the best tracks on here, but that doesn't mean the other three tracks aren't worth checking out. Especially in 'Taste My Blood', the reborn Sabina Classen goes completely crazy with her voice. She gets so into it!
The 2006 re-release contains some remasters of the fine 'Strength, Power, Will, Passion'-album, but is really worth the purchase because of the addition of 'Channeling', the Japanese bonus track for that album. And I guess that if you like Motörhead, the two Motörhead-covers can be quite interesting as well.
Most importantly, Holy Moses is back with a never ending thirst for vengeance and 'Master Of Disaster' is the proof that Sabina Classen hasn't aged a day since 'Finished With The Dogs'. You may even believe that she has gotten younger since then!
This is basically a comeback E.P. for Holy Moses. It's just really a showing of new stuff in the same school of crunching, violent thrashy style of most of their older albums. It's pretty good though, just a short 20 minutes of intense Thrash with no time wasted. No out of the way or new musical ideas, no lead guitar, just a pure violent assault really. It's good stuff mainly, with the title track being the winner here, nice, heavy riffs and some intense attitude! The rest of the songs are all about the same really, nothing over the top or groundbreaking here, they just work really. Though to be fair, the last couple of songs are a little monotonous, they should have cut the number of times we hear main verse riff in "Feel The Pain", and/or put a riff change in to keep it more interesting, you just keep waiting for something else to happen until it does.
I think the star attraction of the band for me is Sabina Classen's vocals, still strong as ever! She has her voice at her best here again, when she really does sound like a woman shrieking her head off! She had this effect on me from the incredibly powerful and over the top screams of the first album, but later she started sounding a bit too much like a lot of male Thrash vocalists, a bit more ambiguous and a lost a bit of the original slant she had.
This is fairly good, it's not a demanding listen and it's under 20 minutes, but it just doesn't have the edge of the earlier albums. I've always wanted to hear a bit more from them though, I always thought they could probably write the best Thrash album ever, if they really got it together. But I guess this style is their niche and what they'll keep doing it so long as Holy Moses exists. They do their primitive, aggressive Thrash style well. I hope the "Disorder Of The Order" album improves on the stuff here though (when I get to hear it!)