Review Summary: A highly successful combination of classical music and doom/death metal that results in one of the most atmospheric albums of the 90s.
Haggard is one of those bands that caught my attention from the very first time I read an article about them on Metal Hammer. The reason was the sheer volume of members that comprised the band and the musical instruments that were used by these highly talented individuals. Apart from the usual instruments that any heavy metal band utilizes such as guitar, bass and drums, Haggard make use of various string, brass and wind instruments that we commonly find in classical orchestras. As a result, the band consisted of 16(!) musicians when they recorded their debut album in 1997. However, what caught my eye at the time I read that Metal Hammer article back in the 90s would turn into a pleasant surprise when I listened to this unique band’s debut.
In And Thou Shall Trust…the Seer
one can listen to harp, violin, viola, flute, violoncello, oboe, clarinet, crumhorn and harpsichord alongside doomy guitars and soprano vocals in contrast to deep death metal growls. However, the main concern in such cases is how well the band manages to mix the elegant sound of practically a classical orchestra with that of a heavy metal band. In Haggard’s case this is not a problem at all as the band achieves to blend brilliantly the romantic side of classical music with crushing guitar riffs. Moreover, one can find excellent examples of beauty and the beast vocals as two female sopranos combine with the death metal vocals of the band leader Asis Nasseri. What makes this album so special is that both the classical and the heavy metal parts are of the highest quality and thus the contrast that is created between light and darkness throughout this work is magical. On the one hand, one can enjoy piano passages from the romantic or baroque era and on the other, doom metal in the vein of Theatre of Tragedy or Paradise Lost. The atmosphere of the album is definitely gothic and dark with some parts of it being epic. One can also describe the band’s sound as symphonic metal but on this album the sound is much rawer than Therion’s Vovin
for example. Moreover the lyrics of the album are centered around stories from middle ages Europe and prophecies by Nostradamus. The result of all the above is a highly atmospheric offering that will most probably appeal to fans of Theatre of Tragedy, My Dying Bride or very early Anathema.
Overall, And Thou Shall Trust…the Seer
is a highly interesting album for fans of symphonic metal and those who are into the doom/death sound of the 90s. In addition, it also serves as a brilliant example of a highly successful fusion between classical and heavy metal music. More importantly, the outcome doesn’t sound forced for the majority of the album and is consequently one of the most atmospheric albums that were released during the 90s.