Last September 22nd symphonic metal pioneers Haggard visited Hellraiser in Leipzig, supported by Sound Storm and Unshine.
Punctually at 20:00, Finnish Unshine were the first band to take the stage. They are promoting the new album “Astrala” released early this year via Rockshots Records, so almost the entire setlist was based on this last release. After a brief intro they started with “The Masks of Enchantment” followed by the first song sung in suomi language “Kainun kuningas”. During the entire Unshine performance, the venue was only half-full. “Jack’s Feast” followed, then came the second song in suomi: “Suo (Kantaa Ruumiit)”. “Visionary’s Last Breath” was the last song taken from Unshine’s latest album “Astrala”. To end the concert the band played “Ategenos (At the Death of Winter)”, a song from the penultimate album “Dark Half Rising”. Although their performance was good, perhaps the fact that unfortunately they didn’t play with keyboardist, making them sound a bit like a regular power metal band without the characteristic melodies that can be heard in the albums, didn’t help to captivate the crowd.
The second band to act were the Italians Sound Storm, who performed an excellent concert to a fuller venue. Just like Unshine, Sound Storm focused their setlist on their latest album, “Vertigo” from 2016. Songs like “Vertigo”, “The Dragonfly”, “Metamorphosis”, “Forsaken” and “Gemini” introduced the band’s music to those who we unaware of Sound Storm. In the middle they played some songs from the “Immortalia” album such as “Back to Life” and “Promises”. Near the end Sound Storm introduced a new single entitled “To the Stars” released this year. Chiara Tricarico, the usual female vocalist could not be present at this concert for personal reasons. So Janika Groß, the female lead vocalist of Haggard came on stage to sing this single with Andrea Racco, the male vocalist of the band. Until the end two more songs were played: “Torquemada” and “The Portrait”. Overall, it was a very good concert with a lot of people reacting very well to their music.
Finally it was time for headliners Haggard to play, almost feeling like they were playing at home. Some of the elements of this band are from Leipzig and the band’s founder Asis Nasseri himself lives in Halle at the moment, a town about 40 km from Leipzig. The concert was not sold out, but by the time they started the venue was full. The concert lasted more than two hours and practically all the classics were played and all the albums were included. The concert began with the song “A Midnight Gathering”, featuring only acoustic guitar, flute and Assis singing. From there until the end, it was a parade of older songs that made the name Haggard what it is today. Tracks such as “Of A Might Divine”, “Tales of Ithiria”, “Herr Mannelig”, “The Final Victory”, “Eppur Si Muove”, “In a Pale Moon’s Shadow”, “Per Aspera Ad Astra” among others were played and delighted the audience who would chant in chorus with the band. Guitarist Claudio and bassist Frank were always switching positions on the stage. The soothing voice of soprano Janika was enchanting and opposing to the growls of Mr. Assis. The string players delighted the public who totally surrendered.
As an encore, Haggard played three more songs closing with the classic “Awaking the Centuries”, the golden key of this extraordinary night in Leipzig.
Words & Photos: João Osório
Managing editor: Filipe Gomes