Rockharz - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Haggard was one of the many new acquaintances we made this summer, and it was also the band we let end our visit at the Rockharz festival; and what an ending it turned out to be!
This 11 person strong outfit managed to rock the tired, drunken crowd out of their socks in the middle of the night. Our story doesn’t begin that way though…

Like others before them, especially the ones playing the Dark Stage, Haggard began their set by not beginning at all.
Yes, they too had fallen victim for the terrible troll called soundcheck and it held them hostage until five minutes of playing time had passed in silence. Here guitarist/vocalist Asis Nasseri called out a new tactic, which was to defeat the bastard by beginning to play, and take care of the rest under way.
Although clearly marked by the experience, the band still managed to pull it together and deliver a very gripping show, which on top of it all sounded awesome; you see, it wasn’t the speakers towards the audience that were teasing, but the monitors with which the band-members should be able to hear each other in order to play in unison.
Sadly, some little bugger once coined the phrase divide and conquer, and already after the first song played another pause had to be made as guitarist Claudio Quarta had been cut off from the rest of the group. Soon, the decision to begin playing was again made, but Quarta was still frustrated with the lack of sound coming his way, and when willing stage-hands didn’t give the results wished for he himself threw of his instrument and began tackling the troublesome cables bare-knuckled with only the light of a single torch to guide him.

The rest of the band kept pushing forward all the while, and we as an audience was thrown from the ensnaring, passionate singing of JaDe backed by violins and flutes to the ruff and gruff puffs of Nasseri who in turn brought the heavy part of the cavalry with him with Michael Schumm behind the marching drums and Giacomo Astorri with his pounding bass.
As I mentioned earlier, I knew naught of the battle tactics of this orchestra, and so I was rather taken aback upon noticing that I knew not just one, but two of the attacks being made; the one being the folk melody Herr Mannelig, which had also been deployed by In Extremo before them, but now in a very different version, and a different language to boot! Italian, or maybe Latin I believe.
The other was even more surprising, as I after a while noticed that it was a very personal take on the monster track South Of Heaven by Slayer!

Having finally defeated the vicious sound-troll (or not, there was no way to tell from where I was standing), Quarta was finally able to make a triumphant return to the group, and with his renewed vigour combined by the already in action power of Astorri, these two men made a valiant leap off the stage and brought their music straight into crowd-level, not just behind the protection of the security fence, but straight out into the fray of the people! Amazing, I have never seen anything like that done before, not at an event of this size.
Another unusual take on stage behaviour was seen later on, as Nasseri chose to advertise for his band not only by mentioning the sales of branded products, but by actually taking a handful of these products, CD’s to be precise, and throwing them directly into the audience.
Shortly after, the crowd’s knowledge of the band was put to the test, as we were asked to sing along to the final song of the night, fittingly called The Final Victory. Although enthusiastic attempts were made, I dare say that no one managed to go as high or long as JaDe…

Having now been Haggard’ised for the very first time, I must confess that this group of vagabonds honestly went above and beyond any expectations and ideas I might have had prior to seeing them, and I shall be more than willing to come see them do battle again, when the time is given!


Eppur Si Muove
Chapter IV – The Sleeping Child
Awaking The Centuries
Herr Mannelig
Chapter II – Upon Fallen Autumn Leaves
South Of Heaven (Slayer cover)
The Final Victory

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