Review by Felix on May 17, 2023.
“Avoid track by track” is something that always hammers in my head while I am writing a review. Therefore let me start with a description of Invisible Queen as a whole. In a nutshell, it is an unworthy ending. Holy Moses sound hysterical. They have defined brutality as an end in itself and the dark elegance of former compositions like 'Lost In The Maze', '1000 Lies' or 'Angel Cry' was not invited to play a part on this farewell party. Equipped with an almost painfully modern production which does not fit the name Holy Moses, the quartet is on a mission of violence. Of course, the band was already prone to pretty chaotic tones in the past (Terminal Terror, No Matter What’s The Cause) and perhaps I should not reduce them on their more polished side. Nevertheless, this form of nervous death thrash with some hardcore vibes is a pretty mediocre dose of noise. Nuances are falling by the wayside, some tracks sound like an accident and leave nothing but a big question mark over my head. For example this one: why did they choose the worst song as the title track? The opening riff is promising, but as soon as the vocals and the alarming guitar line set in, everything breaks down. A minus-chorus “crowns” this nonsense. Four minutes of wasted time.
Coming back to the opening riff of the title track, its class does not remain an isolated case. But the musicians are so enamoured with their tough guy and even tougher Sabina attitude that they bury these riffs under many layers of nearly dissonant noise. Of course, Sabina’s voice has not been made for high sophisticated vocal lines and to blame her for this would be very stupid after having been interested in Holy Moses for roughly 40 years. However, I always liked the band best when her raw screaming was combined with fascinating melody lines. This is not to say that only the comparatively mild yet still thrashy and exciting 'Liechtenstein' made my day. Their best track ever is 'Current Of Death' with this “ahahaha” line in the chorus. This kind of melody is enough harmony from my point of view, but even this iota of music in its narrow sense is missing here. For a short moment I hoped I am listening to the wrong album and asked just like a Danish King some decades ago: Is that you, Sabina? Sad answer: yes.
Doubtlessly, the good moments are hard to find and this is a pity in view of Sabina’s very respectable lifetime achievement in terms of Teutonic thrash. Frankly speaking, I briefly thought about giving the album a 70% rating, just so as not to disturb the farewell party. But come on, this would have been nonsensical and unfair against all releases which really deserve this evaluation. True is (if we can speak about truth in a subjective review) that Holy Moses have recorded many good works, but this one does not belong to them. Guitars that are fatter than the fattest man in the world do not form a good album per se. Okay, a song like 'Outcasts' does not kill its own main riff completely and so it is one of the rare highlights here. But the dominating dense combination of sheer death thrash savagery and crossover vibes (the senseless staccato thunderstorm in 'Too Far Gone' explains its title impressively) rules with an iron fist. This approach kills the dynamic instead of improving it. Exceptions like the good 'Depersonalized', another song that gives its riffing enough room to breathe, cannot make an ambivalent album to a good one. And so it’s time to say good bye and this is pretty easy for me, because I cannot find a new jewel here which can keep up with their classics like 'Necropolis', 'Six Fat Women' or 'I Will'. I could mention many more, but maybe this is also a kind of track by track crime, who knows?
Rating: 5.2 out of 10599
Review by Michael on March 29, 2023.
With Invisible Queen German thrash legends Holy Moses bring their 13th studio album to the people and at the same time the metal queen Sabina Classen will then also retire with her band. This is quite a pity, because Invisible Queen has become a pretty strong swan song, which, however, must first grow as a whole.
Holy Moses does not make it very easy for the listener. On one hand you can often find quite dissonant parts in the songs, which are quite reminiscent of Voivod, on the other hand the production has also become quite primal and rough and is very reminiscent of the 80s. Apart from that, some songs seem quite chaotic and brute at first and you need a few listens until you have opened the twelve songs. The two pre-release singles 'Cult Of The Machine' (which is very reminiscent of the 1992 album Reborn Dogs in terms of dynamics) and 'Invisible Queen' are good examples of this. What happens in 'Cult Of The Machine' is hard to put into words - hysterical screams, gang shouts and propulsive, super-fast guitar riffs characterize the song and make it pretty hard to digest. 'Invisible Queen', on the other hand, is a very catchy song in the beginning until the vocals kick in and with them a rather repetitive part that is a bit exhausting. The chorus then hits again it's very melodic and invites you to relax for a few seconds. 'Depersonalized' is another pretty groovy track with some very intricate technical guitar riffs and for musically demanding listeners certainly a highlight due to its compositional sophistication.
But there are also consistently catchy songs that are almost too easy to listen to. 'Alternative Reality' is a groovy thrash grenade, which mostly moves in the mid-tempo range and impresses with some cool guitar solos and a catchy rhythm. 'Visions In Red' is a pretty brutal song, which is almost death metal in parts, especially when Sabina growls deep. In 'Forces Great And Hidden' Sabina once again shows her whole vocal range. From high screams to deep passages, everything is there and it is quite impressive that the young lady still manages this with her being almost 60 years young. Holy Moses' musical journey ends with 'Through The Veils Of Sleep' and whoever thought that a melancholic finale would be presented at the end is very much mistaken. They go once again kicking violently and a thrashing a thunderstorm with powerful riffs and drums celebrated, so that no stone is left unturned.
There are hardly any reasons to complain about Invisible Queen. Maybe because some songs are very exhausting (but that has always been the case with Holy Moses) and because the production sounds so out of time (but that's nothing new either) - otherwise everything is top notch.
Thanks a lot for the great years!
Rating: 9 out of 10 swan songs599