Haggard: Eppur Si Muove-2004.

Proggressive Death Metal from Germany.

Discography:

IntroductionDemo1992 
This Stuff’s 2 Loud 4 USplit1993 
Have You Ever Seen Worlds Progressive Technology?EP1994
Once… upon a December’s DawnDemo1995 
And Thou Shalt Trust… the SeerDemo1996 
And Thou Shalt Trust… the SeerFull-length1997
In a Pale Moon’s Shadow / A Midnight GatheringVideo1998 
Awaking the CenturiesFull-length2000
Awaking the Gods – Live in MexicoLive album2001
Awaking the Gods – Live in MexicoVideo2001 
Eppur si muoveFull-length2004
Tales of IthiriaFull-length2008
Era DivinaCompilation2009
Ferinda
Cello
Florinda Hoffmann
Cello
See also: ex-Nebelkrähe (live)
Cătălina Popa
Flute
See also: ex-Whispering Woods
Anna Batke
Flute
Ingrid Nietzer
Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord
Lisa Hellmich
Viola
Anne Eberlein
Viola
Kerstin Krainer
Violin
Cosmin Nechita
Violin
Aline Deinert
Violin
See also: Empyrium (live), Neun Welten
Janika Groß
Vocals (soprano)
See also: Molllust
Tom
Vocals (tenor)
Martin Florestan
Vocals (tenor)
Frank Schumacher
Vocals (tenor), Bass
See also: molllust, ex-Disillusion (live)
Asis Nasseri
Vocals, Guitars, Kettledrums (1989-present)
Fiffi Fuhrmann
Bassoon, Crumhorn, Flute, Percussion, Vocals (tenor) (1994-present)
Hans Wolf
Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord (1994-present)
Claudio Quarta
Guitars (2000-present)
See also: ex-Equilibrium (live)
Veronika Kramheller
Vocals (soprano) (2003-present)
Johannes Schleiermacher
Cello (2004-present)
Ivica Kramheller
Contrabass (2004-present)
Giacomo Astorri
Bass (2005-present)
See also: The Dogma, ex-Infernal Angels
Stefana Sabau
Oboe (2009-present)
Maurizio Guolo
Drums, Pecussion (2012-present)
See also: PequodDarkseed, ex-Pergamon, ex-Obscurity, ex-Absorbed in Thought
Gundula Mai
Vocals (soprano) (2014-present)

Past Members:

Kathrin HertzCello
Katharina QuastCello
Patricia KrugCello
Robert von GredingClarinet
Georg UttenthalerDouble bass
Linda AntonettiFlute, Oboe
See also: Bleeding Zero, Cantus Lunaris
Peter PryschFrench horn
Andreas FuchsFrench horn, Percussion
CengizGuitars
Jonathan WhynotGuitars
Markus ReisingerGuitars, Vocals
Agnes GottschalkOboe
Taki SailePiano, Vocals (soprano)
DoroViolin
Vera HoffmannViolin
Andrea SterrViolin
Andi HembergerVocals
Karin BodemüllerVocals
NicoloVocals (bass baritone)
Thomas RosatoVocals (bass)
ChristianVocals (tenor)
Luz MarsenDrums, Kettledrums (1989-?)
Andreas NadBass (1994-2004)
Robert MüllerClarinet (1994-2000)
Florian BartlEnglish horn, Oboe (1994-?)
Christoph v. ZastrowFlute (1994-2000)
Danny KluppGuitars (acoustic) (1994-2000)
See also: Festering Saliva, ex-Deception, ex-Taraxacum, ex-Commander
Kathrin PechlofHarp (1994-2000)
Steffi HertzViola (1994-?)
Karin BodenmüllerVocals (soprano) (1994-2000)
Florian SchnellingerVocals (bass) (1997-2000)
SasemaVocals (soprano) (1997-1999)
Gaby KossVocals (soprano) (1998-2004)
See also: DiskelionNota Profana, ex-Death Army, Cantus Lunaris, Theatre of Night, ex-Coronatus, ex-Equilibrium (live), ex-Aeternum, ex-Dominia
Michael StapfViolin, Piccolo (2000-?)
Robin FischerBass (2004-2005)
See also: Apeirage, ex-Aeons End, ex-Ascension, ex-Cumulo Nimbus, ex-Red to Grey, ex-Sycronomica, ex-Internal Decay, ex-Saruman, ex-Solemnity
Mark PendryClarinet (2004-?)
Michael SchummClassical percussion, Kettledrums, Bells, Tambourine (2004-?)
Andreas PeschkeFlute, Vocals (tenor) (2004-?)
Andreas HembergerGuitars (2004-?)
See also: ex-Destiny
Judith MarschallViolin (2004-?)
Susanne EhlersVocals (soprano) (2004-2014)
Ally Storch-HukriedeViolin, Viola (2006-2013)
See also: Ally the Fiddle, Subway to Sally, ex-Folkearth
Manuela KrallerVocals (soprano) (2008-2010)
See also: Alanae, Valkea Valo, ex-Xandria, ex-Nagor Mar

One thought on “Haggard: Eppur Si Muove-2004.

  1. Jophelerx, November 21st, 2017

    Haggard still stands, as far as I know, to this day as a relatively unique phenomenon in metal. While symphonic metal is certainly popular, and some bands, such as Apocalyptica, may take it further with some gimmick or another, this is the only metal band I’m aware of to employ, more or less, a full symphony – not only that, but to actually be worthy of the oft ill-used descriptor “classical metal.” Therion are the only other band I’m aware of to have had something approaching a full symphony on one or more albums, but never as large and robust as that of Haggard, as well is the fact that for Therion it was a phase, whereas Haggard have spent years attempting to achieve mastery of their craft. With their third full-length album, 2004’s Eppur Si Muove, I believe they’ve come quite close to this, certainly closer than on any of their other albums or by another band. While their sophomore album, Awaking the Centuries, had a couple of fantastic tracks (the title track being by far the most memorable song on the album or even in the band’s discography, though many songs on Eppur Si Muove come fairly close), but lacked a sense of structure or continuity and was also fairly inconsistent in regards to quality. These problems have been reduced to near negligibility here, on the band’s magnum opus.

    I will admit to never having paid close attention to the concept/lyrical themes, though to be fair, that’s largely due to the fact that the melodies themselves are so captivating. It is a concept album about Galileo, as referenced specifically in “The Observer” and alluded to elsewhere, although the fact that two of the tracks, “All’inizio e la Morte” and “Herr Mannelig,” are sung (or grunted, as may be the case regarding sole founding member Asis Nasseri) mostly in Latin (or Italian? I’m no expert, but “Herr Mannelig” in particular seems as though it may be Italian) makes it more difficult to ascertain the entire narrative presented in the album. I imagine it’s something of a biography, but I really don’t know for sure. I could, of course, run them through a translator, but given the medium here, which heavily involves rhythm, rhyming, and word-based associations of various types, I feel this would not be especially helpful. Rest assured, the music provides as engaging and coherent a story as any words could, in regards to the overall feelings and tone present.

    There really aren’t any bad songs here, frankly, though something is lost if listened to them individually or out of order; this is a case when the premise of the concept album is utilized to full capacity, and while each song would be very good individually, you haven’t really heard the album unless you’ve heard it in its entirety, in one sitting. That is part of the reason that I consider “Awaking the Centuries” to be their best individual track – the songs on that album weren’t as specifically tailored to be juxtaposed among one another, whereas here they most certainly are.

    Something they had down to a science (pun intended) even on their 2000 album was the ability to not only be ambitious, grandiose, and varied, but also to be catchy. I’d imagine the abillity to keep compositions short enough and on target enough to still be catchy is no small feat when it involves well over a dozen instruments and/or musicians in a given song alone. Regular symphonies frequently do so, of course, but they have the benefit both of being regularly paid for their work and playing in a style that has been popular for centuries. To combine that style with one much newer, a fusion which has never before been attemped on such a grand scale, and to keep things not only cohesive and succicnt but even catchy – that is true compositional mastery. Even if classically trained, which I suspect that he must be, Nasseri has successfully created a unique subgenre, as far as I’m concerned – this is so far beyond “symphonic metal” that the term would be insulting to describe it. Unfortunately, the genre they’ve created requires passing numerous pragmatic hurdles. Organizing a real symphony is untenable for most musicians in a genre where 99% of bands have 5 members or less, and I’m not sure how many have the artistic vision or even inclination to arrange this complicated amalgamation.

    These are the broad strokes, and probably enough to tell you whether or not Haggard’s is a sound that is accommodating to you, but of course I have left out many specifics which, to the connoisseur, are important if not essential. I will deal with as many as I can given the fact that I have very little classical training in music or knowledge of musical theory. One which is easy to describe is Nasseri’s vocal delivery. As I mentioned earlier, “grunting” is probably an accurate term for it; his voice is very deep and his delivery is rather guttural. Not that they’re pitch-shifted or intentionally made to sound ludicrous in any way; rather, I think they’re quite fitting to the latticework he’s constructed. Granted, I did find them a bit off-putting the first time I heard the band, but this was also at a time when I listened to almost nothing with harsh vocals at all. They’ve certainly grown on me, to an extent that I can’t imagine the music without them. To the casual classical or rock fan who listens to very little, if any, extreme metal, they may be difficult to swallow, but for those who are accustomed to harsh vocals, I can’t see them being very off-putting. Additionally, he does sometimes switch to a semi-normal, though quite theatrical, speaking voice. Even then it is very rich, emotive, and appropriate in the context of a narrative. There are few other spoken deliveries in music which are as natural and melodious as Nasseri’s.

    Before I get into specifics which I’m underqualified to accurately analyze, I will mention that the production is fantastic, so much so that it almost didn’t occur to me at all to mention it. In my 25-30 listens to the album, there has never been any point at which I consciously noticed any issue in this regard; the vocals are strong and clear, yet do not overpower the other instruments, including the electric guitar, which I suppose could be a concern with such a style. The band is certainly as much about metal as it is classical. While guitar solos are absent, the riffs always provide the backbone of the melody. I hesitate to cubbyhole even the riffing alone into any one genre, stylistically (other than metal, obviously); it’s never classical death metal, classical black metal, classical thrash metal, or anything remotely similar to folk metal. No stylistic hallmarks of any major metal subgenre are consistently used; rather, I think, the guitar work takes influence from multiple subgenres. Death metal is probably the most prominent of these, but no serious metalhead would ever mistake this for actual death metal. I should say, actually, that death metal is the largest influence from within the greater genre of metal; even in the guitar riffing, I think classical stylisms shine through more than anything else – classical with metal sensibilities, let’s say. This is why I said earlier that the band is practically within its own genre; even Therion at their most symphonic were always clearly in death metal territory, but that simply is not the case here.

    I suppose another question would be of which instruments are employed, and how frequently. I won’t list out all of the instruments present, since one can easily find that on the album’s webpage, but I’ll briefly go over the uses and prominence of a few of them. Mostly it’s what you would expect of any symphony; strings are at the forefront, typically, about as prominent as the electric guitar, with cello and violin being most common. There are a fair number of passages featuring the French horn, and some combination of clarinet and oboe – I couldn’t tell you the difference between the two by ear alone, honestly. I suppose that covers most of the instruments already (I overestimated the number of different instruments earlier because I was looking at the band page rather than the album page). Piano/harpsichord would be the other instrument that’s fairly prominent. I suppose all of the instruments are fairly prominent, except for the contrabass, which, frankly, I wouldn’t recognize if I heard it (at least with all the other instruments playing at any one time on this album).

    Ultimately, the specific pieces come together to describe the “broad strokes” I was talking about earlier. In an experiential sense, when I listen to the album, no single one of these sticks out; rather, the atmosphere created is the most important thing, and it’s rather a testament to the strength of the atmosphere that I included specifics only as an afterthought. There is no sense of anything being disjionted; one instrument being played too much, one sounding particularly out of place, one too high or too low in the mix, one instrument switching suddenly to a very different one – nothing like that. It truly is a symphony that plays on this album, creating a tone that is always epic in scope and grandiose in disposition. Atop this at any given time might be mystery, adventure, awe, suspense, introspection/contemplation, and a dozen or more others. The story chosen as the thematic focus is certainly an appropriate one, as the sense of mystery and adventure, of contemplating things never before contemplated, of being in awe at the sheer scope of the universe and its laws. From an epic and grandiose tale and epic and grandiose music comes an epic and grandiose experience, one with few if any flaws, and one in which there is never a dull moment or any sense of predictability (besides the song structures themselves, which are usually at least somewhat traditional). If you have an inclination towards both classical and metal (I’ll assume the later, actually, considering where you are if you’re reading this), this is a must-listen. For those who have been disillusioned by the mediocrity of such “symphonic” metal as Epica, Within Temptation, Nightwish, and the like, this is what the marriage of symphony and metal – not symphonic metal, but rather, a metallic symphony – is supposed to sound like, and you’d be amiss if you didn’t let your ears feast on it, at long last.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s