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EPPUR SI MUOVE

Haggard

Crossover Prog


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Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars HAGGARD is a little orchestra more than a rock band, a musicians ensemble clasically trained. In their last two albums, they magically blended baroque music, medieval, gothic and heavy metal.

In this production, the formula is repeated around a conceptual opus about Galileo Galilei, but -this time- there are some changes that put the stuff far away from the magnificent previous albums.

"The Beauty and the Beast" style (an interplay between a clear female voice and male growlings) is used again, but now (unlike the last two albums) growlings are very excessive and exaggerated, shocking and irritating. Instrumental parts in "Eppur Si Muove" -medieval and baroque tunes- are plenty of romantic beauty and extremely well executed, but voices have a predominant role, singing in German, Latin, Italian and English. Beside the growlings, even the female voice sounds shrill.

A progressive ear can enjoy arrangements, instrumentation, variety and melodies, but vocal excesses (a lot) produce an instant "pain". BTW, heavy metal fans will find (I guess) too classical and soft the instrumental parts... So, which was the target?

I'm not a metal or heavy music fan, but when I discovered this band some months ago, I was really impressed about its albums, specially trough the beautiful and delicated music (there were growlings, but just a little bit). Well, now I feel myself disappointed, essentially because HAGGARD is a fantastic musicians group able to make wonderful music that, this time, chose to demonize something that could be a majestic opus. 2 1/2 stars.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#31888)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
ericvietnam@h
4 stars This third studio album from Haggard shows that their compositions and performances as a group keep improving over the time. Integration between the metal and classical parts of the band is brought one step further, especially with the cord instruments that often dispute the lead to the electric guitars. For sure, the sound of Haggard evoluted since "the Seer". The addition of the timpani serves especially well the more dramatic twist of the current compositions. Enjoyment garanteed to most of you who liked "Awakening the Century".

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Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After a break of four years and a successful South-America tour Haggard released their third full-length studio album. Not much has changed in their music since "Awakening The Centuries", still a highly appealing (at least to the prone listener) blend of renaissance/baroque-era classical music and gothic/death metal. "Eppur Si Muove" is again a historical concept album and as the title ("And yet it does move") and cover suggests about the life and work of Galileo Galilei, who lived from 1564 bis 1642. As far as my knowledge allows, the band managed quite well to reflect the music of this era. I think it's noteworthy that most of the compositions are written by members of the band. "Larghetto / Epilogo Adagio" is by pianist/organist Hans Wolf, the two short classical interludes "Menuetto In Fa-Minore" and "Gavotta In Si-Minore" are composed by Robert von Greding who was playing clarinet in previous records but left the band meanwhile. "Herr Mannelig" is a traditional song coming originally from Norway and the rest of the tracks had been written by guitarist and front man Asis Nasseri (the one with the grunts). The vocal section, especially the one for soprano had been much enforced here compared to previous albums and they have been placed more to the foreground. One might argue that they started to use a bit too much the genre-typical "beauty and the beast-scheme" as sounding most obvious on "Per Aspera Ad Astra". But unlike with many gothic metal bands it doesn't sound at all overblown and as trying to cover some musical incapability by placing an attractive female vocalist with a pleasant voice in front. The female voices, all presented by classically trained sopranos by the way are as well not suffocated by a wall of keyboard sounds like it's sometimes the case with other bands. The contrasts between beautiful classical sections and aggressive metal ones might be here even more blatant than ever before but still everything's fits together very nicely. Finally I'd like to put a few notes, Asis mentioned in an interview I've read concerning the song "Herr Mannelig" which is lyrically not related to the concept of this album. Obviously he likes a lot this song which has been arranged already by several bands but in his view never in the right way. Originally he was planning to re-arrange it to fit into the concept but then he was afraid it would lose a lot of its identity and he decided just to translate the lyrics into Italian language. Since it's a very precious and atmospheric song in his opinion he chose consciously a mostly acoustic arrangement using only clear vocals without any grunts. It has been placed even in two different versions on the album which might look on first view that this has been done to fill up the CD. They've done this in fact since they've been asked by airplay stations if they would have a shorter track to serve as an introduction to their music. Usually they don't compose their tracks with commercial interests in mind, thus this has been a nice opportunity for them. And I think it's well forgiven if this way some more people find access to the quite adventurous kind of music they're doing.

Actually I don't see any reason to give this work an inferior rating than their first two full-length ones though one might blame them for some stagnancy in their style. But on the other hand they became even better, both in playing skills of the metal section and in having tighter compositions. Nonetheless I'd like to emphasize that this is not essential Prog in a general and conventional way but honestly I'm not aware of any other band doing such an unique combination in a better way than Haggard does. And finally I'd like to mention that I bought this CD soon after it came out and it still appeals to me nowadays (which isn't the case with CD's from other bands, i.e. Nightwish or Rhapsody I bought at the same time). I think that's a good prove, that Haggard's music passes the test of time.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#95269)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was really charmed with their very good debut album, but little by little "Haggard" was dragged into a more metal style with lots of growling. And these have never been my cup of tea.

The very much Italian titled "All' Iinizio č La Morte" doesn't hold anything Italian: it is partially "sung" in German which is not the most romantic language for prog music as far as I'm concerned. The originality of their vocals was the combination of pure and delicate female vocals backed up with discrete growling.

On this album, you'll have to switch the characteristics (but it was already the case on their second opus). Still, there are notable exceptions on this work (hopefully).

The recipe of short classical pieces to break the overall metal mood is again used. Originality dropped quite subsequently, I'm afraid. But there are several tracks which reflect the enchantment of their debut as the excellent "Per Aspera Ad Astra" and "Of A Might Divine".

The combination between classical and metal is beautifully reconstructed on an equal balance. Same proportion is reached between aerial (even if at times theatrical) vocals and growling. I was enthusiast about "And Thou Shalt Trust" for these reasons; and the charm operates again.

Some small diversion of little interest ("Herr Mannelig", "The Observer") can be skipped to reach another piece of interest faster. The title track is another winner and a true kaleidoscope of their music: wonderful classic parts, tremendous metal lines, superb vocals and scary growling. Quite a challenge, but very well performed. Some sort of prog metal opera of a unique style. The string section is just phenomenal. A highlight of course.

This album is a fine reconciliation with their great debut. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#248919)
Posted Sunday, November 08, 2009 | Review Permalink

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