Late but most welcome
I've had to cut this review in half because I realised that the first 400 words were just an ode to Haggard's operatic vocalist soprano Susanne. I'm sure she's one of those sirens who used to use their beauty and gorgeous voice to lure sailors to their doom. As sailors used to crash upon the rocks so my first 400 words had hit stony ground as my thoughts of Haggard lingered far too much on the enchanting singer.
Haggard didn't get off to the best of starts. First of all the band were late arriving to the venue causing Communic to drop down a slot, then it seemed to take an eternity for the thirteen members to get ready to play. As a consequence their expected forty minute set was reduced to a mere twenty-five but it was still enough to win over a very patient Prog Power crowd to the point of leaving them begging for more.
A quick count of guitarist, guitarist/vocalist, percussionist, keyboardist, drummer, flautist, four strings including double bass, oboist, opera singer and a crazed vocalist wearing a cowboy hat and a Motorhead t-shirt. The result was a powerful, catchy and infectious form of symphonic medieval metal that used every element at its disposal to great effect. Guitarist/vocalist Asis growled and thrashed his way over some sublime symphonic backing sometimes spoiling the soaring strings and gorgeous soprano singing. Having said that I don't think the band would be complete without him and it was obvious the whole of the band just oved the aspect of playing such music. But it wasn't just the band enjoying themselves the crowd were lapping it up and even booed when Asis said they only had twenty-five minutes to play.
As you can imagine there was a lot to watch which is entertaining in itself, from the hair waving of guitarist Claudio and the hat of keyboardist Hans to the head-banging string quartet and the heavy metal gong of Michael. With the overly folky themes in their songs it really does drive home the notion that heavy metal will incorporate anything as long as it's good and thankfully, even with a plethora of members required to perform this music, Haggard were good and quickly won over the Prog Power crowd. There were sections in the music that were purely classical utilising strings and fantastic soprano vocals, it was completely devoid of anything metal but it came across as metal because it was all meshed into a metal song. I realise that doesn't make much sense but then mixing a small orchestra with a folk metal band shouldn't make much sense either but it does, and it works brilliantly.
A huge cheer of appreciation that seemed to linger for an age accompanied the band at the end of their set and I myself felt frustrated that their set was cut short. Such is the logistics of their type of music I'm afraid but I'm sure fans will be turning up in their droves if they announced anymore UK dates. Their short set has tweaked the UK's interest and if they do play in this country again then I'll be there hoping that Susanne will sign something for me.