HAGGARD have been a big band for a while, who else can say to have a line-up with 17 musicians? And if that was not enough yet, master mind Asis Nasseri has invited ten more guest musicians into the studio and “Eppur Si Muove” also musically has turned out to be a big album, a damn big one even!
When you compare their 1994 MCD “Progressive“ with “Eppur Si Muove“, then the Munich based band has come a long way, a very long way, starting out as Progressive Death Metal, but now the only band that I could compare HAGGARD’s evolution with would be THERION, even though you cannot compare their sounds, still they have walked a comparable path.
“Eppur Si Muove“, Latin for “and it does move“, is based on the life of Galileo Galilei, after so far paying tribute to Nostradamus they have chosen the Italian philosopher and mathematician as topic, who had found out that Earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around, as the Catholic church said. As he was adamant about his standpoint, Galilei was tried for heresy and in the end executed. Allegedly this, “eppur si muove”, had been his last words…
Now there is a lot of bands, which incorporate medieval and classical instruments into their sound, but only very rarely they play such an important role as with HAGGARD, because just as rarely we get such a homogenous sound as with this, ehm, seventeen-tet? But seriously, befitting the epoch of Galileo, we also get a whole bunch of baroque influences and melodies, which homogenously are amalgamated with the electric guitars and Metal.
And so I reach my big problem with “Eppur Si Muove“: Every song is a class of its own, so which one should I point out? To mention them all most probably is the only chance for me. “All'Inizio È La Morte” covers all possible bases, starting out with a big choir and a lot of classical instruments, followed by acoustic guitars and rough, yet clear German vocals, before a violin together with opera vocalisation follows. Then the song sets out with symphonic Metal, big choir and some growls, the choir partly in Latin, the growls partly in English, then a very calm passage, which they build on again, clean vocals and growls, incredible!
And after the short, classical interlude “Menuetto In Fa-Minore“ we have a right-out classic with “Per Aspera Ad Astra”. Rarely I have heard classical music and heavy Metal combined this well, with incredibly variable vocals, choir, female and male solo voices, growls, plus a tremendously dynamic and variable song structure, the tension within the song is just breath taking! “Of A Might Divine”… Covering everything from very quiet to furious, including a baroque interlude, huge choirs and all, ouf, I think I have fallen for this album!
Then we have the Swedish traditional song “Herr Mannelig“, some of you might still know it from IN EXTREMO. It starts out with dark keyboards, kettledrums and soprano, incredibly intense, before the song is transported into Metal, with really heavy guitars and drums, great! On we go, “The Observer”, introduced by violin and cembalo, is more rooted in Death Metal, as the sluggish and very heavy song really steps on the pedal in the middle and from all the classical instruments the violin is put into the foreground, before the title track gives me the rest. Dramatically starting with string instruments, we have a very, very dynamic composition here, very variable, with HAGGARD firing on all creative cylinders, another true masterpiece!
The shorter version of “Herr Mannelig“ in my opinion is superfluous, but does not take away anything from this huge album, as we also get an almost fitting sound, where only the guitars at times lack a bit of power and the drums sound a bit too triggered, but overall all the instruments have their room to unfold and even though the album is gripping right away from the start, there are enough details hidden in the sound, which only surface after several listening sessions.
A big album of a big band, definitive “Top 5 of the year” material! (Online August 13, 2004)