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Haggard - Awaking the Centuries CD (album) cover

AWAKING THE CENTURIES

Haggard

 

Crossover Prog

3.52 | 23 ratings

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Peter
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I hesitated to write this review, because the CD was a gift, and I don't share the giver's high opinion of the content. They say one should "never look a gift horse in the mouth," but I did promise to review this album, so here goes....

First of all, this is a very ambitious project by a unique band. Haggard is composed of a metal band at its core, and is fleshed out by a classical/medieval ensemble. There are 20 members in all, not including guest musicians and choir! (Like ELP's overblown WORKS tour, this outfit must have quite the operating budget!) The concept behind AWAKING THE CENTURIES is the prophecy of the 16th-Century "seer" Nostradamus, and the juxtaposition here of metal and medieval music is not without merit. When the kettledrums and chainsaw guitars come thundering in on the pretty instrumental efforts of the "orchestra," the result fits well enough within the bounds of "prog."

What I really don't like about this disc, however, is that the bulk of the vocals are delivered by a guy (with a thick German accent -- that's not normally a problem for me) who is deliberately trying to sound like a demon (imagine Regan from "The Exorcist" in full possession-mode, or "Animal" from the Muppets at his most ornery). I suppose the effect is meant to be powerful and chilling, but for me it's just silly and irritating. (OK pal, I know you're not really a demon. Could you please stop ruining the songs, and either just sing in your real voice, or keep quiet?) Don't get me wrong -- there is some lovely music here. But of twelve tracks, six of the longest ones either feature the Hellish vocals, or are marred by histrionic narration atop the music. Hmmm, that leaves exactly 6 minutes 39 seconds of nice classical/medieval/choral music that I can get into -- why don't I just play one of my actual classical or medieval CDs instead?

This may well appeal to the tastes of some younger/angry listeners, but it's certainly not my "cup of chai." There's plenty of brutality and ugliness in this world already, and I can easily see it on the TV news; I don't need it to be oozing from my stereo speakers as well. (When I want to hear music about Nostradamus, I'll stick to Al Stewart's excellent song.) I crave more beauty and majesty in my progressive rock, and I'm only willing to wade through so much ugliness to experience it. There's simply too much of the latter, and not enough of the former, to make me give this album more than a two-star rating. Grow up, lose the "demon" and try some singing next time, Haggard, and make the great album that I know you can make!

Peter | 2/5 |

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