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...and Andy is clueless: Holy Moses, part seven. Well, seven is often used as a magical number in fairytales, but I guess everybody agrees that the music of Holy Moses never had much in common with any kind of fairytale, even though some of these traditional tales offer really cruel storylines. Aggravating this situation, the remaining band members Andy and Sven had to compensate the loss of Sabina, the perfect match for the role of the insidious stepmother. Probably due to the persistent commercial failure of Holy Moses since "The New Machine...", she had left the band. No problem at all, thought Andy and hired Dan Lilker. The beanpole with the affinity for hardcore came straight to the point. He had not yet hanged the Pope and saw a good opportunity to transform his frustration about this failure into a mega-aggressive album. "Piss off" was the message of the entire work which was as appetising as a bowl of snot.
Holy Moses had modified their style. Or, to be more precise, the former approach was unrecognisably distorted. The atmosphere of "Queen of Siam" did not reappear, the dynamic of "Finished with the Dogs" was missing, the musical flow of "The New Machine..." did no longer exist and even the sporadic highlights of the three albums after the WEA disaster remained unrivalled. In line with the primitive design of the cover, Holy Moses offered a thick broth of angry hardcore tunes without any kind of surprising twists. It was miserable to realize that their creativity had been on vacation during the song-writing process. Shame on you, Andy, because the best songs were the two cover versions. This result spoke for itself, in terms of quality as well as in terms of quantity, because only 27 minutes of new Moses music remained after deduction of the playtime of "Hate Is Just a 4 Letter Word" and "Bomber". With very few exceptions, their own songs seemed to be unfinished fragments. "I Feel Sick" belonged to these exceptions and was based on a more or less coherent structure. Nevertheless, it could not keep up with their former classics. Far from it! Only its title hit the nail on the head. To witness the downfall of this once promising band was an almost unhealthy experience, although the sound of the album gave no reason for complaint.
The expressionless bawling, the choppy rhythms, the rumbling guitars, nothing really worked. And where was the beanpole? Well, Lilker abused his bass guitar without rhyme or reason in search of his personal fulfilment, the creation of the most improper noise. He had not been involved in the song-writing process, but this was no excuse for the crappy result. His best contribution was the untypical piano performance that formed the melody of the first cover song. However, the band was caught between a rock and a hard place. Thrash metal maniacs were disappointed in view of the absence of thrilling riffs and the hardcore scene had not been waiting for a mediocre album of thrash converts. I was convinced that the final chapter of the book of Holy Moses had been written. After a strange odyssey, it was time to call it a day. Yet today we know that I was wrong.
The first time I was exposed to this album, I pondered what had happened to Holy Moses that they had decided to become Sick of It All. Then, when I first heard its battering content, I wondered when Sabina Classen had begun taking testosterone treatments. I mean, the woman always stood among the most brutal of thrash front persons, but this was manlier than fuck. Then it dawned on me that this was not Sabina Classen at all, but Andy Classen performing the vocals, and I did despair. While Sabina was off distracted by her other band Temple of the Absurd, with a number of members of Warpath, Andy was keeping the home fires lit by releasing something that he probably should have...well, at least not under the name of Holy Moses.
Certainly, there are traces of albums like Finished With the Dogs or World Chaos here, but the band's thrashing core has been elasticated into the propulsion of hardcore and grind music. Basically, if you could temper the band's prior output with some Sick of It All and Napalm Death, then the result would sound a whole hell of a lot like No Matter What's the Cause. It's extremely pissed sounding, so it approaches this evolution with some knowledge of what it needs to accomplish, and yet I found myself pretty sick of it within 3-4 tracks. "Step Ahead", "Denial" and "No Solution" all feature Andy's blitz-like, dense guitar tones in a fast, thrashing formula, and Sven Herwig simply gets ballistic with the drums, and Danny Lilker of Nuclear Assault, S.O.D. and so forth guests on the bass; but the character of the band's better years is completely absent, and it probably falls outside the interest range of the standard thrasher who was into their material.
Now, if you always shunned Holy Moses' catalog for being 'not heavy enough' (in other words, you didn't listen to it because it wasn't death metal or grind), then perhaps you could derive some satisfaction from this steady onslaught. Most of the tracks are over in 2 minutes or less, and though he's more monotonous, this Classen's vocals aren't that bad, just a deeper, blunt alternative to his ex-wife. Personally, I find it to be the weakest they've ever released under any formation, and it's not something I'd listen to even if I were a massive fan of what it was trying to pull off. But it was a sour note to leave off on, since it represented 'curtain's for the bands for the next seven years, until an Andy-less, Sabina-fronted Holy Moses would return for the Master of Disaster EP in 2001.
Although she wasn't there from the very beginning, Sabina Classen was always Holy Moses to me. As was Andy Classen by the way. But Sabina was the (very pretty) face of the band and her never ending devotion to Holy Moses and their brand of Thrash Metal was infectious. Not to mention that it gave the band that little extra that made them special to me.
Somewhere halfway the nineties, she left the band to do her own band called Temple Of The Absurd. Causing that directly was the material that Andy Classen had written that would later form the album 'No Matter What's The Cause'. 'No Matter...' was more Hardcore-based, simpler and more compact than anything Holy Moses had ever done and that was obviously not Sabina's direction.
So this album was recorded as a three-piece, with Andy handling all the guitars and vocals and Sven Herwig playing drums joining forces with Thrash bassist extraordinaire Dan Lilker (Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth, S.O.D.). The result is a to-the-point Hardcore/Metal album and I have to say I agree with Sabina. My respect for Andy Classen is never ending, but 'No Matter What's The Cause' isn't really what I want to hear from Holy Moses.
Quite disturbing is that the songs are pretty hard to keep apart. Of course, that is something general with Hardcore, but I probably expected more from Andy Classen. Some parts in 'Acceptance' are acceptable (no pun intended, seriously), 'What's Up' has some nice riffing, 'Denial' is okay, but the rest just doesn't do anything with me. Besides, Andy's vocals on this album are much weaker than on any album before this one.
That doesn't mean this album is bad. There are two stand-out tracks on this album and surprisingly, the first one is a cover. I have never ever heard the original by Shock Therapy, but what Holy Moses made out of 'Hate Is Just A 4 Letter' word isn't bad at all! The piano parts, which are, from what I heard, played by Dan Lilker, are beautiful and the atmosphere of the song just takes me away. Sven Herwig proves once again that he is a good drummer, especially because stylistically, this song is very different from the rest of the album and that is no different for the drumming.
Sabina does a guest appearance in the other highlight of the album: 'I Feel Sick'. This track also displays a new direction, but it blends in with old style Holy Moses as well. Again, some great drumming by Sven Herwig and the interaction between Andy's and Sabina's vocals works quite good for this song. It's quite catchy as well. And I absolutely love the slower middle part of the song. Nice riffing...pounding drums...very nice to bang your head to in deed.
'No Matter What's The Cause' is an okay album, but it's just not Holy Moses. I know that the aggression displayed on the album is sincere, but it's just not my way of portraying anger. There's nothing wrong with it, except for the fact that it's not Thrash and of course Dan Lilker's godawful bass sound. Nothing wrong with his playing though. I can understand why Holy Moses temporarily disbanded after this album. I want Sabina back!