The roots of HOLY MOSES go all the way back to
1980! Ramon Bruessler and Jochen Fuenders founded the band. The band got
the kick start they needed in 1981 when Sabina and Andy Classen joined.
Sabina's jackhammer voice, along with Andy's heavy riffs set the metal
world on its ear. Over the next four years the band released three
demos. Eventually the tapes found their way to Ralph Hubert's office
from Aaarrg! records who put the band on the Metallic Bunnys sampler in
The band garnered a huge underground following throughout
the mid to late 80s, culminating in a huge push in 1989 from WEA
Records. Holy Moses released their third sonic blast entitled "The New
Machine Of Liechtenstein" in 1989. This was the finest hour for Holy
Moses as the band toured throughout Europe. Sabina Classen was
considered to be the new leader in the thrash scene. She did many
interviews and even hosted "Mosh" a heavy metal show on the RTL network.
Forming her own label West Virginia Records, and releasing the band's
next four albums. The band officially called it quits in 1992, but
released "No Matter What's the Cause" in 1994 as sort of an epilogue, on
Fast forward to 2000: Sabina, after releasing two CDs
with the band Temple of the Absurd, felt the time was right to once
again resurrect Holy Moses. The violence and aggression still permeated
her heart and soul. She went to Andy Classen, who runs Stage One
Studios, and pitched the idea of reforming the band. Needless to say all
went well and the result was ‘Master of Disaster’, which was released in
2001. Now once again poised to reclaim the title of the leaders in the
thrash world. Holy Moses previous album ‘Strength Power Will Passion’
was released in September 2005. The group's tenth album was the
follow-up to 2002's ‘Disorder of the Order’, which came out through
‘Agony of Death’, the new HOLY MOSES album, was
released on September 29 in Europe via Wacken Records/SPV. The CD was
recorded at the Blue Castle Studio near Hamburg with producer/guitar
player Michael Hankel. Members of Destruction, Obituary and Axel Rudi
Pell are among the guest musicians who appear on the album.
It seemed there is much to talk about so we had a
conversation with front woman Sabina Classen (vocals). Here you
can read what she had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com
Your new album ‘Agony Of Death’ was recently released in
Europe, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about
First of all, congrats on your new album. How are you
Sabina: I’m doing great, thank you! We’re on tour right
now and that is exactly where we like to be!
It’s been a couple of years since ‘Strength Power Will
Passion’ came out, so it seems you took your time for the new record.
How did you launch into writing material for ‘Agony Of Death’ and how
much time did you spend on the songs?
Sabina: The album took about three years to come
together. That was indeed a lot longer than ‘Strength, Power, Will,
Passion’, but that is also the reason why the new album sounds so much
better. We had more time to prepare ourselves and we had more time to
put into the production. For me, that meant I could put more time into
my vocals as well, so I could really get the best out of it. All
together, I think that’s why ‘Agony of Death’ is a great album.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Sabina: Let’s just say I was very inspired at the time.
We have a great line up and we’ve done a lot of live shows the last few
years and that all works very inspiring.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘Agony Of Death’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on
Sabina: my first goal was to make a great album. I wanted
to do a real aggressive pure thrash album with a lot of intensive
lyrics. Also I want to be on a real world tour. So it was very important
to me to work hard on the album. I never know what will be the result,
but this time I felt that we would do something special.
Why did you opt for atmospheric intro's and outro's for
the songs on the cd?
Sabina: We started experimenting with that with the song
“Pseudohalluzination”. I really think it gives the song an extra edge
and from there we decided to work with it a little more. We’ve had mixed
reactions to it, but the ones who don’t like it can also buy the normal
jewel case, which doesn’t include any of the intros and outros.
What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics and
can you tell me a little more about them?
Sabina: As you may have seen in the song titles, a lot of
them refer to psychological illnesses or the state of the human mind. I
have always been very interested in psychology and I guess that interest
fueled the lyrics on this album. ‘The Agony of Death’ is the struggle a
patient has with his own death when it nears. So you can see this as a
theme album, rather than a concept album. It’s not one book with twelve
chapters, it’s more like twelve books on a part of Agony of Death, you
see? And of course there is “Bloodbound of the Damned”, which is a
tribute to our wonderful fan club. They are crazy too, but in a good
Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do
you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?
Sabina: first I start to write the lyrics independently.
When I am ready, I start comparing my lyrics with the music and I choose
the right song which fits to my feelings in the text. It’s hard do
describe in written words, because it’s a kind of feeling how songs and
lyrics come together
Maybe I should describe each song – and how I see the
lyrics with the music:
A speedy, full-in-the-face old-skool thrash number, full
speed ahead! It gives you strength, energy and power for the struggle
against death. That’s why it comes first on the track listing. It’s the
skill to develop or remember concepts, ideas or images which aren’t
physically there. Imagination is the capability of perceiving inner or
mental images. These inner images resemble visions, their creation can
be supported and modified deliberately. They can give you strength in
the struggle against death, and they can give you courage. They relax
you and give you the energy you need. At the same time, you find
yourself building up energy fields. These consciously experienced
visions act as a mediator between your conscious and subconscious mind.
Your true strength to defend yourself against evil lies in your
A fierce and fast typical Moses speed number with catchy
shouts and an ingenious solo. Definitely another hit on this CD.
Alienation describes an individual or social state in which a
relationship that was originally intended to be organic (between human
beings, a person and their job, people and the product of their labour,
or a person and his self) is annihilated, reversed or destroyed. Very
intense lyrics which argue that people - through purely profit-oriented
production processes (surplus value according to Marx) - are alienated
from the product they produce as well as from themselves. Another
chapter in that agonal state that’s part of the battle between the EGO
and the powers.
World In Darkness
A melodious, catchy tune with real hit potential, Mille’s
(Kreator) favourite on this album. Tough nuances with a haunting,
unbeatable chorus and an ingenious solo at the beginning, courtesy of
Ralph Santolla (Obituary), which he recorded backstage during our joint
tour in January. This song just has to be performed live on stage! The
lyrics are about the ambivalence of suicide visions in which you are at
odds with your own agony of death.
Bloodbound Of The Damned
A typical up-tempo Moses speedster with definite
bawl-along potential, destined to be a live fave. Its message says
clearly and precisely that you will never lose a battle as long as
you’re part of a community that loves you and picks you up. Accept the
help that is offered, embark on the hard path together. It’s the power
of community, no matter where you are. Together we can brave the “Agony
of Death”. Sign a mental contract against death.
A technically intricate, epic, complex song, an
incredibly cool Moses offering with great quotes such as “The Machine Is
Back”. It becomes evident that the death machine is still alive. It
accompanies us on our path through life. We made ourselves believe that
we had conquered the death struggle. Is it only an illusion that the
machine continues to live? We can’t see the machine, but we can feel it.
So the person hallucinating knows that their perceptions are not based
on sensory stimuli, they’re pseudo-hallucinations. They are aware that
it’s not real, but mentally the machine exists inside our body, which
makes it visible.
Angels Are In War
A fast number with hook guarantee, Kerry King & Co.
couldn’t have done better (*gg*). It’s a clear declaration of war
against the people who want you to lose the fight against death, and
their actions. Fight tooth and nail, you’re strong enough, you know who
you are, demonstrate the strength of your inner self. NOTHING and nobody
will bring you down, you’re strong enough, you have the power. Others
may lose their battle, but you won’t!
Another specimen of a perfect track in the style you all
know and love from Holy Moses’ ‘Finished With The Dogs’ and
‘Liechtenstein’ days, deliciously intricate, technically complex and at
the same time full of catchy hooks, with a “schizophrenic” chorus. It’s
an alienation of body and soul. In this agony of death, thoughts are
instilled from outside, resulting in madness and hallucination. You can
hear voices speaking to you, and they can be imperative. Face those
voices and don’t lose the battle, reconnect your body with your soul.
The voice of the exceptional singer, Henning Basse (Sons Of Season;
Metalium), was integrated into this song in an ingenious manner.
A catchy thrash number in the true sense of the word, an
incredible emotional roller coaster ride with earthy shouts and an epic
ending. It’s a partial and at times total disconnection of mental and
physical functions, when you notice that you could in fact lose the
struggle against death. These emotions are accompanied by amnesia,
fugue, stupor, apraxia, cramp attacks. You find yourself suffering from
paraesthesia and acroparaesthesia, Ganser syndrome and multiple
personality disorders just so you don’t have to feel the lost battle any
longer, disconnecting yourself altogether.
The Cave (Paramnesia)
A truly tough number with a lot of drive, hook-oriented
chorus and phat background shouts which invite the listener to sing
along to. The lyrics are about paramnesia, delusions of memory,
disturbances of memory. They are about recollections of events which
never took place but keep you captive as if you were locked up in a
cage. A continuous agony of death that takes place in your head.
“Delusional Denial” is a straightforward, short,
full-in-the-face number. It’s the power of bewilderment which makes the
battle against death seem lost. You’re told something which only exists
in the mind of the power which tells it to you and it doesn’t have
anything to do with the given situation. This power incites you to
confabulate, mixing up your own recollections and distracting you from
you own struggle against death.
An absolute riff and drum inferno, extremely versatile,
slightly intricate, featuring that typical Holy Moses complexity again;
a real riff explosion. It’s that positive explosion in your brain once
you’ve calmed down. In a specific place (The Retreat – founded by W.
Tuke in York around 1800, the first private hospital, the first form of
psychiatry in a rural environment). Retreat to the place that you need,
surrounded by forests and nature, away from other people who are killing
you and your soul. Isolate yourself and draw the strength that you need.
Then face the fight against mental death. First you have to find
yourself again, be convinced of your inner strength, and you will find
yourself strengthened and ready for the path that lies ahead of you.
Through Shattered Mind
A powerfully stomping track with a cool chorus, great
shouts and groovy solo part. The song stomps through your brain, making
you realise: if you give up the struggle against death, you will lose
your life. Even if you’re not really dead in the physical sense + you
still are +, at least mentally, because you’ve given yourself up and
don’t want to fight any more. That’s what you have to realise, don’t
give up, fight tooth and nail against the influences which are trying to
make you powerless.
Agony Of Death (instrumental)
Have you won the fight? Will there be a continuation of
life or death on the next album?
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘Agony Of Death’, what inspired the name of the album, what does it
stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
Sabina: Agony of Death is the main theme and each song
decribes one kind of Agony of Death. All is inspired by life.
After the release of ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ you
had a couple of line-up changes. Can you give us a short introduction of
the new members, who they are, were you found these guys?
Sabina: That’s right, only me and guitar player Michael
remained. However, we had been working with Olli for a couple of years
already. He first played bass for us. We know him because he plays
guitar for Reckless Tide, a wonderful band and great friends of ours. He
made the switch to second guitar, because we were already thinking of
that for a while. A bass player was found quickly, as we found out our
webmaster Thomas was also a kick ass bass player. He also plays in a
great Metal band called Desilence. And then of course, there is Atomic
Steiff, who played with Holy Moses before. Also in Sodom. We’re glad to
have him back. It was kind of funny: the night before I phoned him if he
wanted to re-join Holy Moses, he dreamed that I would do that!
Did these line-up changes have an influence on the new
songs and did the new guys contribute to the songs or add new elements
on ‘Agony Of Death’?
Sabina: Well, everybody contributed to the new record.
Thomas came in later than the rest, so there aren’t many of his ideas on
there, but Michael, Olli and Steiff all worked together on the music.
And I think that shows. I think ‘Agony of Death’ is the most “together”
sounding work we have done in a long time.
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
Sabina: I really don’t know how to put that into words,
but being in Holy Moses for 27 years, I think I do know what a Holy
Moses song should sound like. I should be able to put my heart and soul
in it in the first place!
How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for the well
received ‘Strength Power Will Passion’ and what do you think are the
main differences between your previous albums and ‘Agony Of Death’?
Sabina: Once again, time was an important factor for
that. I don’t only think ‘Agony of Death’ sounds more together, it also
sounds less clinical than ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’. There are
great songs on ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’, I mean...at every show,
people go crazy at “End of Time” for instance, I just think ‘Agony of
Death’ is overall a better song.
About song writing, how can we imagine you work on new
songs, what's the typical writing process like for Holy Moses? For
example, is it a group process or did some people write more than
Sabina: this is always a kind of chaos hahahaha, and no
real direction. Sometimes each of us writes a song and afterwords we
all work on it, sometimes songs come together because we all sit
together and working on them.
What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
Sabina: we all write what comes in our minds, we never
write only to have more songs…this is impossible…..first you need a kind
of feeling, an idea and then you can write…and sometimes first we have a
melodyline and we check my lyrics so we can see if that melodyline and
feeling fit the words I wrote.
Guitar player Michael Hankel was responsible for the
production, did you run into any difficulties doing the production
Sabina: I try to assist him, because I know how I want it
to sound, Michael is just very good at making it sound that way. I think
he did a good job on ‘Strength, Power, Will, Passion’ and I think he did
an even better job this time around.
Did you want to preserve the vision you have for Holy
Moses by taking control of the production? And would you ever work with
a producer external to the band if your label asked you to work with,
say for example Andy Sneap?
Sabina: We have worked with outside producers in the
past, but to be honest, taking the time in your own environment to
eventually come out with an album that you are fully satisfied with is
the perfect way to do it for me!
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Sabina: Yes, we talked to our fans about it on tour and
they seem to be quite happy with it. In addition, we also keep an eye on
the reviews on the internet, but there’s so many of them, we can’t see
them all, can we?
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
Sabina: Well, of course the opinions of our fans count.
Our fans are very important to me, they are my family. It wouldn’t have
made sense to write a song for them if it didn’t matter to me, would it?
As for the press, you read what they say and you take some things into
account, but it’s not the end of the world when my favorite magazine
doesn’t like it. Most magazines react quite positively to ‘Agony of
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
Sabina: As of now, I am very happy!
Which element of the CD are you most proud of?
Sabina: “Agony of Death”. And that is not a publicity
Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song
do you find is the most challenging one to play live?
Sabina: this is so hard to say – because I love all of
the songs. So I always put this thing to our fans and they help us to
put the setlist together.
With all the touring and several albums under your belt,
how far has Holy Moses surpassed your original dreams and what would you
say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?
Sabina: The fans, always the reaction of the fans. When I
started out, I could never have imagined people would be this warm and
this loving to me and my band. They truly are my family, there is no
other word for it. When I left Holy Moses for a little while in the
nineties, I missed them and they made me want to return. Now I won’t
You guys have been in the metal-scene for 30 years or so,
do you feel there is much happening for the scene and is there anything
missing in the scene?
Sabina: Every time has its good things and bad things,
even the eighties. I think the movement has been growing stronger
recently. At least here in Germany. There’s more bands and more people
who come to the shows and listen to the music. That’s a good thing. As
long as these people are there, there’s no need to complain!
What can we expect from Holy Moses in the future and
where do you see the band going within the next 5 years?
Sabina: A lot of live playing, a lot of fun and hopefully
a new album!
Thanks for your time and we wish you all the best with
Sabina Classen - Vocals
Michael Hankel - Guitar
Oliver Jaath - Guitar
Atomic Steiff - Drums
Thomas Neitsch - Bass
Jochen Fünders - (1980-1981)
Iggy - (1981)
Tom Hirtz - (four weeks in 1984)
Andy Classen - (1994)
Jochen Fünders - (1980-1981)
Jean-Claude - (1981)
Andy Classen - (1981-1994)
Georgie Symbos - (1987)
Thilo Hermann - (1988)
Rainer Laws - (1988-1990)
Jörn Schubert - (2000-2002)
Franky Brotz - (2000-2005)
Ramon Brüssler - (1980-1986)
Andre Chapelier - (1986-1987)
Johan Susant - (1987)
Thomas Becker - (1988-1990)
Ben Schnell - (1990-1992)
Dan Lilker - (1993-1994)
Jochen Fünders - (2000-2001)
Andreas Libera - (2001-2003)
Alex De Blanco - (2003-2005)
Peter Vonderstein - (1980-1981)
Paul Linzenich - (1981-1984)
Snake - (1984-1985)
Herbert Dreger - (1985-1986)
Uli Kusch - (1986-1990)
Meff - (1992-1994)
Julien Schmidt - (2000-2005)
Queen of Siam - (1986)
Finished With the Dogs - (1987)
The New Machine of Lichtenstein - (1989)
World Chaos - (1990)
Terminal Terror - (1991)
Reborn Dogs - (1992)
No Matter What's the Cause - (1994)
Master of Disaster - (2001)
Disorder of the Order - (2002)
Strength Power Will Passion - (2005)
Agony of Death - (2008)