Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
Why Sabina Classen Is So Great
Sabina Classen is one of the most famous thrash metal singers in the world and deserves lots of love for her talent and courage. She does not follow trends and she is not willing to be a sell-out just to make more money and be more popular. Because I have such admiration, respect, and love for her work, a biography is necessary.
This article will focus on how she has furthered her career up until the band’s 2008 album Agony of Death. By this point in the band’s career, they had broken up and gone on a hiatus, but they were trying to compete with bands like Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction. Germany is such a hotbed for thrash metal, but the fact that Sabina has lasted so long and not given up shows her courage and dedication, particularly after her divorce from guitarist Andy Classen in 1994.
Sabina's Vocal Style in the 1980s and '90s
In the 1980s and especially the '90s, Sabina's voice was more high-pitched and really fit the time period. By 1990, the band slowed their tempo, with songs such as "Diabolical Plot," which has a really terrific bass line! Uli Kusch also left his mark on Holy Moses before leaving to join the band Helloween in 1993.
Comparing "Agony of Death" to Earlier Works
Let’s address the album Agony of Death and how good it is compared to their other previous works. "Imagination" starts with some creative atmospheric guitar work before the speed and Sabina’s voice kicks in. "Alienation," though is the song that is one of the highlights of the album. This song describes what happens when human beings become alienated from each other. Their souls become shattered, their minds get destroyed, and recovery becomes very difficult.
Agony of Death has one thing in common with the band’s previous work, Strength, Power, Will Passion (2005.) Sabina still has a tendency to use those death metal style growls. She varies her voice, which is a major asset in the music business. She has come a long way since the band’s 1987 album Finished With the Dogs. In that album, Sabina features a more screeching kind of style to her voice. The song "World of Darkness" is about a world that is surrounded by darkness and evil with humans feeling like they are dying on the inside. "Bloodbound of the Damned" has a guitar part that is similar to Tankard’s song "Ice-Olation." Tankard is another German thrash band from the early '80s, and their lyrics deal mostly with beer, partying, and political themes.
Let’s shift back for a second to the start of Holy Moses’ 2008 studio album Agony of Death. There is the sound of a siren and the heavy guitar starts right away. This is direct contrast to the beginning of the 2005 album Strength Power Will Passion in which "Angel Cry" immediately started with the electric guitars. There is a laugh by Sabina as the heaviness of the song continues unabated. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the song really softens, and wow! That is an unexpected time change from a band that has been used to providing us with fast, no-nonsense thrash metal. The sheer heaviness of the song "Alienation" is really mind boggling. I wonder to what lengths Holy Moses will go to in order to provide the highest quality thrash metal. They certainly have reached an unsurpassed level previously with their musical brutality and this is a formula that works for them. If you can handle the entire album Agony of Death in one setting, you are really brave!
Briefly, if we wanted to say what the main difference is between Agony of Death and many of their other musical releases, this one has an unexpected time change and the music is even heavier.
Holy Moses tends to have lyrics which focus on the effects of war and how the world has become corrupted by darkness, human isolation, and human selfishness. Think back to 2002’s Disorder of the Order where the band had songs like "We Are at War" and the very catchy "1,000 Lies." Wars are started because of human greed and the need to expand their influence in the world and be better than others. And no human can be honest all the time. The band really addresses the many flaws of human nature and it is my hope that this can serve as something educational that will only expand and open up lots of minds.
The Amazing Song "Current of Death"
Why Holy Moses and Sabina Classen Are Successful
The success of Holy Moses also has to do with the character of the German people. Germans are a very hard-working and industrious group of people that always focus on making the highest quality products. And these efforts show in their musicians as well!
Angela Gossow may have become more popular because of her time spent with Arch Enemy. However, Sabina should be given credit as well because she can do a high screeching kind of voice, a regular thrash metal kind of voice and she can do death metal style grunts as well. She is a very well-rounded vocalist.
As we progress through the album, Schizophrenia has some Iron Maiden–influenced guitar work in it. Holy Moses was formed back in 1980 a full five years after the formation of Iron Maiden so it makes sense that they would be influenced by them.
Holy Moses also covers the subject of mental disorders as well. One example of this is the song "Dissociative Disorder." The song is about someone that has become separated from the reality of the world and their judgement is impaired and they cannot think straight. This is what happens when the mind breaks down. Holy Moses is a band that should not disappoint the true metal fans. Sabina sings from her heart with passion and aggression which is really important.
Sabina is now in her later 50s, and she is still singing in a style of music that requires a lot of maintenance and training. She has done so well particularly in songs such as "Diabolical Plot" from the 1990 album World Chaos.
Sabina Classen on Holy Moses' 30th Anniversary in 2011
Comparing Sabina Classen to Other Female Heavy Metal Vocalists
Your question might now be how does Sabina Classen compare to some of the other female vocalists in the genre of metal?
I already briefly mentioned how she compares to Angela Gossow. Sabina’s voice is rougher and more aggressive compared to Helen Vogt of Flowing Tears. Helen has a deeper voice though. And Tanya Kemppainen and Tanja Lainio are different as well. The first Tanya has a combination of softer and more exciting vocals. Tanja Lainio has a more soothing kind of voice. So these women are different in style but still valuable to the scene in their own way.
In addition, even as Sabina ages, she's still stunningly beautiful!
For those of you that want to listen to a thrash metal vocalist that has feeling, aggression and is exciting, look no further than Germany's Sabina Classen.
© 2017 Ara Vahanian
Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on April 05, 2017:
Finished With the Dogs is considered by many fans to be their best album. That is what I have heard. I am amazed and impressed at the comments that are starting to come in. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about one of the best female vocalists ever.
Asmodi: The New Machine of Liechtenstein is also pretty good. If you get a chance, make sure to listen to Strength, Power, Passion as well. Thanks for your comment!
Barry stjohn on April 05, 2017:
My True Queen of Metal.
Favourite album.....Errrr, The album that got me into the band in the first place......FINISHED WITH THE DOGS.
It still is one of my favourite albums of all time.
Long live Sabina & Holy Moses.
Now, please play Wacken this year........will you???
Alex on April 05, 2017:
Asmodi,you're bloody right! New Machine is a eternal source of thrash.
Asmodi on April 05, 2017:
Cannot vote for their best Album. The New Machine of Liechtenstein. Holy Moses is a blast. I also like Sabinas Temple of the Absurd- Stuff.