It's crucial for band to come up with a good name. Long before you hear the music you'll see the name and that could be a pre-cursor to actually purchasing the group's album whether or not you have heard their musical output. Although one should not judge a book by its proverbial cover the name HOLY MOTHER is not a good choice. Just what this lot are trying to tell a new audience is bewildering by coming up with such an absurd moniker.
The albums sleeve is not much better. "Dealin' With The Devil" comes with what looks like two covers. The first a tired and rather pathetic drawing of a leather clad female with what only looks like a rose wrapping its way between her legs. Just where Metal bands think this is going to get them these days is open to debate. The second cover, incidentally it's up side down! Is a complete and utter rip off from many a JUDAS PRIEST record sleeve. So we are off to a good start and I've not even heard a single note yet!
Having never heard of HOLY MOTHER before I can only take it that this some sort of greatest hits package and the tracks are lifted from 1995 up to 2000. The album also includes demo versions. I've no idea if any of these songs are considered classic but I will tell you HOLY MOTHER do indeed rock!
Opener "Livin' On Luck (2000)" is pure old school SAVATAGE. Not the Progressive oldies they've turned into but the SAVATAGE from the 80's/early 90's when they played Metal! It kicks along with a Criss Oliva style riff and rasping vocals from singer Mike Tirelli (MESSIAH'S KISS). This is one of those songs that you just nod your head to and play loudly. Bare to the bone Heavy Metal. "Freakshow (2000)" is JUDAS PRIEST and once again is well hammered down with a furious riff backed up with thunderous drumming. The bands 1999 album "Criminal Afterlife" is represented by three tracks and there is no let up in the Metal onslaught. "The Rage ", "Criminal Afterlife" and "Turned In Your Gun" are high octane driving Power Metal very much in the vein of SAVATAGE, JUDAS PRIEST and ANNIHILATOR. The production is sharp and the vocals especially upfront as Tirelli has a fine set of pipes that belt out in that typical American style.
I can only guess that 1995's "Holy Mother" is the band's debut offering and it's somewhat different from what came later. There's no doubt that it's Heavy Metal but there is more of a Hard Rock Melodic edger to it. "Call Me By My Real Name" could easily be SKID ROW, WHITESNAKE or UGLY KID JOE. "The Train" featuring a quite bizarre bass guitar sound is firmly in 1980's Hair Metal and may well have you reaching for the CD skip button. The remaining tracks are standard Hard Rockers and to be honest sound a bit out of date these days.
Metal is back on track with the last few remaining tracks culled from "Criminal Afterlife" (1999) and 1998's "Toxic Rain", frantic riffing and power house drumming all amassing a pleasing metallic experience. The album closes with five-demo version and the best songs on the entire album! With "Live To Die", "The River" and "Call The Ghost" the picks of the bunch. "Live To The Die" is a faster, hard edge influenced TWISTED SISTER rocker and "Call The Ghost" pumps along at a similar pace.
All in all an interesting if not wholly overwhelming album that shows HOLY MOTHER willing to change styles and move into new territory. Hardly essential listening but get hold of the album just for "Livin' On Luck" and the demos and it will be money well spent. (Online March 25, 2003)