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Sunday Old School: Holy Moses

Germany is a country whose history and legacy of thrash metal is rivalled only by that on the United States. It’s given the world such excellent acts as Kreator, Destruction and Assassin and still has more to uncover. This week, Sunday Old School will look at another of the country’s fastest heavy groups, who helped strike a blow for women’s place in metal music, Holy Moses. The band was formed in the spa town of Aachen, located in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1980 by bass player Ramon Brüssler, guitarist Jochen Fünders and drummer Peter Vonderstein while they were in high school and played their first show only four days after forming, with Fünders handling vocal duties, before that same year, they recorded and released their first demo, "Black Metal Masters." In 1981, the band was to change forever when both Fünders and Vonderstein left the band, with the latter being replaced by Paul Linzenich, a singer known only as "Iggy" and guitarist, Andly Classen.

Just before the year ended, Iggy decided to leave the band and Classen brought in his partner Sabina to be the group’s new singer. They worked on new material until they felt they were ready to perform, debuting their new incarnation in November 1982, before recording several new demos. The demos, such as "Walpurgis Night" and "The Bitch" helped them gain attention in the metal underground, eventually leading to a deal with Aarrg Records, through which they released their debut album, "Queen of Siam" in 1986. They were scheduled to promote the record by opening for American speed metal act, Agent Steel, however drummer Herbert Dreger failed to show up and was fired from the band as a result, with Uli Kusch replacing him. The last founding member of Holy Moses, Ramon Brüssler decided to quit soon afterwards, his place taken by Andre Chapelier.

The next year, the group released their sophomore full length, "Finished with the Dogs," which boasted better production that their debut release and contained a heavier sound too, grabbing the ears of fans of the emerging thrash metal genre. The album was also a commercial and critical success and led to the band touring across Europe supporting such acts as D.R.I. and Rage amongst others, before headlining their own show in Hamburg.

With their popularity increasing, so too did their profile, not least when Sabina Classen was appointed the host of the German heavy metal show, Mosh and in 1989, when Holy Moses released their third album, "The New Machine of Lichtenstein." This album was another critical success and saw the band moving their music into a more technical area, not unlike the style being showcased by Voivod. Their presence continued to grow after they hit the road with American thrash metal bands Forbidden and Sacred Reich, as well as a performance at the Dynamo Open Air festival.

Holy Moses then partnered with West Virginia Records, a label set up by their new band manager, Uli Wiehagen, for their fourth album, "World Chaos," which was released in 1990. This would mark their last album with Kusch, who left shortly after recording the album to join power metal act and fellow countrymen, Gamma Ray. He was replaced by Atomic Steif, who made his Holy Moses recording debut the next year on their fifth album, "Terminal Terror." After one more album in 1992 entitled, "Reborn Dogs," tensions within the band finally came to a head and they decided to lay the name to rest.

Although Holy Moses were officially disbanded, in 1994, Andy Classen recorded and released music under the Holy Moses moniker, in an effort which featured Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth bassist Danny Lilker handling both bass and vocal duties, in the form of the album, "No Matter What’s the Cause." This would be the only record the band would release however and Holy Moses once again vanished.

After collapsing on stage with her new band, Temple of the Absurd in 1999 and being involved in a motorcycle crash the next year, Sabina began to work with Andy once again on new music. She then decided to disband Temple of the Absurd and launched a new version of Holy Moses, without any of the other former members, though Andy remained as a songwriter. The new lineup of the band embarked on tours across Europe and Asia, particularly South Korea, before recording a new EP, "Master of Disaster," which was released in 2001 through Century Media. The next year, Holy Moses released their first album in eight years, "Disorder of the Order" and embarked on a tour in support of the album, including a stop at the Wacken Open Air festival which saw the band joined by Doro on stage for a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s classic, "Too Drunk to Fuck."

Fan demand for a new album remained high and so in 2004, Holy Moses released their second album since reforming, "Strength Power Will Passion," which marked their first release not to feature the input of Andy Classen. His place was taken by Erosion guitarist Michael Hankel, who has since parted company with the band. Holy Moses continues to go strong, releasing another album in 2008 entitled, "Agony of Death" to strong reviews and performing live whenever possible, including at major festivals such as Wacken and Graspop. This month, the band will release their first album in six years, "Redefined Mayhem" and no doubt take to the road once again to promote the album. Regardless of how many albums they’ve sold or big a crowd they play to, the band has crafted a solid place for themselves in the history of thrash metal, predominantly as one of the bands who really showed just how hard women can rock and helped later bands such as Arch Enemy realise that gender really plays no role in metal, so long as the music is heavy.

Holy Moses - "Finished With the Dogs"

Holy Moses - "Life's Destroyer"

Holy Moses - "Panic"

Holy Moses - "Pool of Blood"

Holy Moses featuring Doro - "Too Drunk to Fuck"

Holy Moses - "End Of Time"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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