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Haggard - And Thou Shalt Trust.....the Seer CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.09 | 39 ratings

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Heavy Prog Team
4 stars I have not kept up with Haggard's progress since the late 90's when this album was released but I can still remember my surprise when first listening to it. The band was then (and probably still is) considered to belong in the underground scene of atmospheric/symphonic metal, sharing musical influences with bands like Therion, Theatre of Tragedy, My Dying Bride etc. While the aforementioned bands have received considerable attention, this was not the case with Haggard.

The cult character of this album was emphasised by its inclusion as a free give-away cd in a Greek metal magazine. The focus on the band's first completed album was given on the symphonic and melodic character rather than the association (if any) with progressive music. Haggard do not deliver something entirely new with this release, but the execution of the music and the compositions work for themselves. The >15-piece band (!!!) produces an amalgam of - popular at that moment in time - atmospheric death/black metal and symphonic/orchestral music. One of the main differences with similar bands in the genre is the inclusion of a full-time orchestra that delivers stunning melodies and remarkable (mainly female) operatic vocals.

Apart from the orchestral aspect, which often gives its place to heavy riffs and death growls (!), there is no constraint of experimenting with baroque, medieval and folk tunes - strangely enough some of them reminded me of Anglagard. Once you believe you are in a sequence of Celtic and bard songs, abrupt breaks of death metal accompanied by orchestral rhythm sections shift the mood to a different dimension. In an pale moon's shadow and De la morte noire, the album's longest and most ambitious compositions, often produce these arresting variations while most of the folk elements seem to appear in the two first tracks that set the pattern for the rest of the compositions.

Extra credit has to be granted to the ethereal and enchanting female vocals that enhance the quality of this release. Requiem in D-Minor and Cantus frimus in A-Minor, being solely classical music compositions, are the most captivating moments in the entire album. Production is another element that highlights the album's cult elements with the guitars sounding similar to early 90s north European death/black albums at times. However, the orchestral aspect of the album does not seem to be affected by this circumstance.

Metal music fans might be reminded of Therion's Theli and Lepaca Kliffoth but also Theatre of Tragedy's Velvet Darkness they Fear that came out a year before this release. Symphonic and folk prog fans might find interesting elements here, mainly in the classical moments of the album but have to bear the death metal growls and brutal male vocals. Nevertheless, this is an excellent example of mixing metal and operatic music in a way that does not deteriorate the importance of each genre.

aapatsos | 4/5 |


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