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Disorder of the Order might not have been the bees' knees of the Holy Moses catalog, but after so many years of disdainful tripe like Temple of the Absurd or the underwhelming Holy Moses hardcore album No Matter Whats the Cause, it seemed like a godsend. The band was back in the full swing of vicious thrash metal, and even with a new lineup they were primed to shine once more. Here on the followup, Strength Power Will Passion, long time writer and guitarist Andy Classen had finally left the picture for real to focus on his engineering and production. The band had left Century Media and joined Armageddon, who were also releasing a few albums by younger thrash bands. For lack of a better idea, they decided to place Sabina Classen's image on the cover pentagram, sporting a Glen Benton inverted cross forehead brand...
Thankfully, the music is consistent with the feral energy of the previous album's faster tracks, with hints at the 80s greatness of Finished With the Dogs. Songs like "Angel Cry", "I Will" and "Rebirth" all spurt along with a similar crispness to the streams of muted, thrashing menace, but the mix of gang shouts and Sabina's gruesome slather combine for an acceptable experience in headbanging chaos. There are also a few more atmospheric tunes like "Symbol of Spirit" with its numbing melodies, "End of Time" with its powerful, clinical bridge riffing, or "Sacred Crystals" with walls of force that recall late 90s Death. If you can wade past the 10-15 minutes of silence after "Say Goodbye", they also do a cover of Henry Valentino's German hit "Im Wagen Vor Mir" with Tom Angelripper contributing some spit.
Strength Power Will Passion has a fairly clean vibe to it, but it thankfully doesn't cut into the aggression or offset Sabina's delirious venom. Guitarist Michael Hankel (formerly of Erosion) has stepped into his role as songwriter with style, but most of the compositions remain consistent with Andy Classen's work in the past. I can't say that I'd listen to this record over Disorder of the Order, The New Machine of Liechtenstein, and certainly not Finished With the Dogs, but I've never had any real complaint about it. It's volatile and harsh enough to satisfy what I loved so much about their finer days, it just lacks the catchiness in its individual tracking.
Sometime around the release of 'Disorder Of The Order', Holy Moses announced that Andy Classen would quit his work with the band. The man behind almost all of Holy Moses' compositions was too busy with his studio and couldn't fully concentrate on Holy Moses anymore. Luckily, the band found a new guitarist who could also write songs, by the name of Michael Hankel. Hankel used to be in the German Hardcore band Erosion. Sabina Classen seemed quite convinced of his qualities as a songwriter and was very positive about the album. Many people, including myself, were quite uncertain what to expect from a Holy Moses without Andy Classen. Maybe this new guy is in deed good, but can't live up to his brilliant predecessor?
Those worries were all unnecessary. I should have known that I could trust Sabina. While not keeping up to the exceptionally high level of a few songs for the entire album, 'Strength, Power, Will, Passion' shows a band that is worthy of existing in this day and age. Michael Hankel has written a couple of absolute killer tracks and Sabina Classen is once again in optima forma.
While opening track 'Angel Cry' is pretty good, the all-on Thrash fest starts during the second song, 'End Of Time'. My god, that's such a great song! The opening riff only is enough to proof that Michael Hankel is in deed a kick-ass songwriter. Not to forget about his abilities as a guitarist! 'End Of Time' is a killer track which combines the vibe of "old school Holy Moses" with a slightly modern approach, mostly remniscent of Arch Enemy in their fastest and heaviest moments. Absolutely killer!
Another song in that vein is 'I Will'. The opening riff is once again a fast, heavy and precise one in the Andy Classen-style. The backing vocals are also pretty much Andy-style and that makes this song good enough to fit between any Holy Moses classic from the past.
Between the two aforementioned songs, there are two extremely cool midtempo tracks, 'Symbol Of The Spirit' and 'Examination', which aren't really similar to anything Holy Moses has ever done before. Michael Hankel seems to experiment with twin guitars much more than Andy Classen and that adds a great depth to those two songs, which are both amazing.
'Death Bells II' is the continuing saga of a Holy Moses track from way, way back. Since it never appeared on an album, I don't know if it's really the lyrical continuation of that song, but it's a really cool song with really catchy hooks. Never thought I could ever say that of a grunted song, but the "I will beat you down"-parts are just plain cool to shout along to! Some killer riffing by mr. Hankel here as well!
The rest of the album is of slightly less quality than the aforementioned tracks, but some songs, like 'Sacred Crystals', 'Lost Inside' and 'Say Goodbye' are good enough to please any current day Thrasher. Only the hidden track after the long silence following 'Say Goodbye' is a complete dud moment. A shit song in German by Sabina with Tom Angelripper. Luckily I have already turned off the record or restarted it at that time.
'Strength, Power, Will, Passion' is once again a quality Thrash Metal record like we are used to from Holy Moses. This is the proof that Michael Hankel is just as good as Andy Classen, on guitars as well as on composing. This is the proof that Holy Moses can fully function without Andy Classen. And I have the full faith in Michael and Sabina that the next album will be even better! Kudos for the album title by the way!
Sabina Classen. Is she really the best female extreme metal vocalist ever? Maybe. Definitely better than your average female modern extreme metal vocalists (Angela Gossow, etc.), without a doubt.
Holy Moses have been around for two and a half decades already and they were one of the earliest German Thrash bands in the early 80s. I haven't heard "Queen of Siam" yet but "Finished With the Dogs" is definitely on par with albums like Kreator's "Pleasure to Kill" and the early Destruction and Sodom outputs.
So I decided to give the reunited Holy Moses material a chance, starting with "Strength Power Will Passion". The cover looks pretty cheesy, but is particularly interesting in some strange way. But let's dig into the album, which is actually some classy shit.
The first three songs are generally hailed as the peak of the album, but I don't agree completely. "Angel Cry" is not exactly the best opener in my opinion, even though it has a good main riff. The problem is, the few riffs the song features are played over and over again, which causes a lot of unnecessary repetition. Not a bad song, but nothing too exciting. The next two tracks are indeed awesome thrashers. "End of Time" has some great fast riffage, while "Symbol of Spirit" is mainly midpaced and features a few awesome hooks (that's one of the album's high points, it's totally catchy).
I can't agree with the majority of the Holy Moses fans. The album doesn't let down at all after these three tracks, they just switch in style for a tiny bit. The lead work starts to sound a bit like "South of Heaven" and the songs seem to get a bit more atmospheric at times. They might lose some steam compared to the first tracks, but the things i mentioned before make up for it.
Sabina's vocals are raging again. They might not be as high-pitched as in earlier albums, but they are still as vicious as they've always been. Her thrashy yells have turned into a more death-metal like raspy growl with some gang vocals here and there. The oldschool vibe can definitely be heard, without denying the slight modern influence (don't worry, no stupid half-thrash or metalcore here).
So what else is to say about the album? Not much, it's just damn fun to listen to. It's catchy as fuck, very headbangable and hits hard enough to make every fagcore-idiot whine in despair. Oh, and it's incredibly consistent. No weak track to be found here and you definitely need to check the hidden track after "Say Goodbye". It's funny as hell (if you understand German) and features Tom Angelrippers angry barking together with Sabina! A must!).
Overall, "Strength Power Will Passion" is a great Thrash album, not very innovative, but hey, does it have to be innovative all the time? This reviewer doesn't think so.
Try it. Like it. Buy it.
Sabina Classen proves herself to be a big league growler here on “Strength, Power, Will, Passion”, as she bellows her way through tracks such as the thrashy, galloping “Angel Cry” and a caustic rager titled “Symbol Of Spirit” with an unquestionable fervor.
Holy Moses have it quite together, their precision thrash executed with a torrential energy with the brittle guitar tones taking a backseat only to Classen’s heartfelt performance. On “End Of Time”, the listener will find the band letting loose with some solid old school thrash rhythms, these being the foundation of the groups snarling attack. On this, the groups tenth album you will find a focus that their earlier material lacked, as the group have been transformed into a non-stop war machine of decidedly harsh tones with a distinct emphasis on creating an air of gruff brutality.
Their upfront, in-your-face song structures are most successful on tracks such as the aforementioned “End Of Time”, the grinding, bashing “Examination” and the mighty “Sacred Crystels”, which features one of the most potent thrash riffs of the last five years. Songs like “Lost Inside” reveal Holy Moses to be the thrash counterpart to the more death metal focused Arch Enemy, the most immediate differing factor being in that of the drums and the noticeable lack of the blazing fretwork that Arch Enemy is well known for.
Lack of a complete shredder aside, Holy Moses still comes across as wholly uncompromising and relentless in their starkly aggressive approach to metal. Fans of Death Angel style, quick-paced rhythm guitars will find much to enjoy with “Lost Inside”, the sleeper track on the album. Does this record deserve a spot in your collection?
Holy Moses is one of the greats of German thrash, and has in their storied career featured some of the big names in metal, like Danny Lilker (of Anthrax/Nuclear Assault fame), Uli Kusch (Helloween, Masterplan, Gamma Ray) and Atomic Steif (Sodom, Living Death) to name a few. You'd think with a lineage like theirs they couldn't do wrong. They could, however do wrong-ish.
This album features the thrash assault that they are famous for, with some excellent songs like Angel Cry and End of Time (best track on the album to this listener). The major fault here is that amidst the thrashing around, there's not a whole lot of substance to be found.
The musicianship is solid and the production features a lot of crunch, and of course Sabina steals the show with a superbly evil performance. After that, there's really not a whole lot to write home about. The songs tend to drag, and a lot of them are pretty similar to each other.
Beyond these faults, there's really not a lot of replay value here. I listened to it pretty much exclusively for a couple of days, then it was relegated to the shelf where it didn't really get played after (but sporadically, and I would easily tire of it). While it doesn't suck, it's not really great. If you care more about heads down thrash than variance in songwriting, this is a great album. If you're a long time metal fan who has heard it all, there's not really much here to get too excited about.