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Holy Moses - "Agony of Death" (CD)

Holy Moses - "Agony of Death" CD cover image

"Agony of Death" track listing:

1. Imagination (6:07)
2. Alienation (5:43)
3. World in Darkness (4:34)
4. Bloodbound of the Damned (4:17)
5. Pseudohalluzination (8:17)
6. Angels in War (5:36)
7. Schizophrenia (4:52)
8. Dissociative Disorder (5:59)
9. The Cave (Paramnesia) (5:43)
10. Delusional Denial (3:34)
11. The Retreat (6:27)
12. Through Shattered Minds/Agony of Death (Outro) (8:16)

Reviewed by on August 18, 2010

"Musically, 'Agony of Death' is one of the best Holy Moses albums in their discography."

Holy Moses has often been mistaken along with Slayer, Sodom, and other heavier thrash bands as death metal. Even though this is an amateurish mistake, listeners have the right to be confused because Holy Moses is heavy as hell. The lead vocals and crushing riffs are all typical of thrash metal. Did it ever occur to you that the lead vocals come from a woman, which is quite rare in the thrash metal genre?

Sabina Classen is among a handful of female extreme vocalist. If I did not tell you that the lead vocals come from her, the listener would easily confuse it with a man’s voice. I don’t know how she does it, but she can pull off harsh vocals that range from screeches to deep growls quite well with incredible depth and expression. Together with Atomic Steif (drums), who has returned to the band, and new additions Thomas Neitsch (bass) and Oliver Jaath (guitar), Holy Moses has created an album that is both complex and mature, not to mention the darkest Holy Moses album to date.

Even though this album does not have a linear, sequential story, this album is a concept album by virtue of having common ground that unifies each track. Holy Moses’ twelfth studio album, "Agony of Death," is a medical term for the death struggle and common denominator of the recording’s lyrics. The subject matter is no picnic. Dealing with “child violence, ambivalent suicidal reflections, disturbances of memory, or amnesia,” the lyrics are quite psychological and dark. Reminiscent of Sepultura’s “Schizophrenia,” some of the songs deal with psychological abnormalities such as dissociative disorder, schizophrenia, repressed memories, amnesia, post-traumatic stress disorder and the symptoms of each, like hallucinations.

Now Agony of Death is not without its flaws. The album is quite long. Most of the tracks clock in way above the five-minute mark. Some listeners will feel alienated by the repetitive verse-chorus-verse on some songs like “Pseudohalluzination,” which has an over-extended chorus repeated throughout the song. The lesson in redundancy clocks in over seven minutes too, and when listening to this song on the album, I forward it to the next track after three minutes or so. Conversely though, there are some tracks like “Angels In War” and “Schizophrenia” that are repetitive, but are much shorter and catchier than those of “Pseudohalluzination” or “Through Shattered Minds.”

If you are a fan of thrash metal and do not mind some repetition of the verse-chorus-verse structure, “Agony of Death” is worth picking up. Musically, “Agony of Death” is one of the best Holy Moses albums in their discography, but falls short of triumphing “Finished With the Dogs” and “The New Machine of Liechenstein.”

Highs: "Alienation," "Angels of War," "Schizophrenia"

Lows: Some of the verse-chorus-verse song structures overstay its welcome

Bottom line: If you are a fan of thrash metal and do not mind some repetition of the verse-chorus-verse structure, “Agony of Death” is worth picking up.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)