In the Halls of the King
The eternal battle of good against evil is a recurring universal theme in the history of mankind, spanning the most diverse forms of art throughout the centuries. Frequently, these concepts have been marked by clichéd thought patterns, but the thin line between light and darkness is rarely easy to define or recognise. "Tales Of Ithiria" is Haggard's very own saga about this eternal battle and takes place in the fantastic world of "Ithiria".


The album sees the German classic metal act leave the path of human history for the first time since they got together in 1991 to devote themselves to the realm of fantasy. A reorientation and reclamation of virgin soil which doesn't come as a total surprise, seeing that all the great authors of the fantasy genre have a history background, finding their inspiration in mankind's real past. And for Asis Nasseri, creative mastermind of this sizeable chamber orchestra which has come together under the name of Haggard, the journey into fictitious spheres is an expansion of his own horizons which allows plenty of room for new possibilities. "I have to admit that I left the field of real history with a heavy heart," he recalls the early days of his work on "Tales Of Ithiria". "I'm very interested in history, and there was a variety of themes that I would like to have written about – but this history thing has become almost normal for Haggard, and I consciously wanted to leave that familiar path."


The creator of the legendary country of "Ithiria" saw himself faced with totally new challenges: "I found it much easier to set to music authentic subject matter, such as Nostradamus and Galilei. But I discovered that I am twice as critical if I have to listen to my own story, supported by my own music: does the music suit the scene, is everything consistent in itself?" And so in the last four years, Haggard focussed all their energies on creating a unique opus which on the one hand features the ingenious signature of their past three recordings and sparkles with new energy at the same time. A project which took many months to complete and a lot of work in terms of composition and coordination, but at the end of the day the result consists of eleven amazing tracks which are full of Haggard's sublimeness, emotiveness and awesome metallic gravity. A masterpiece which not only explores the boundaries between good and evil, but also puts the concept of classical music and metal into a whole new perspective, adding a visionary dimension.


Again, Asis' earthy grunts are blended with classical female and male voices, carried by a majestic orchestra and traditional rock instrumentations consisting of lush drums, a humming bass and driving e-guitars. This vocal diversity is expanded even further by drummer Mike Terrana, renowned on the rock music scene for his work with Rage, Yngwie Malmsteen and Tarja Turunen, who lent his sonorous and expressive voice to the epic tales of Ithiria.


Expressive multi-faceted music, excellent songwriting between complexity and sensitive melodic arches and harmonious arrangements have always been among Haggard's strengths and have reached truly fantastic new levels on "Tales Of Ithiria". So it should come as no surprise when the melancholy legend "Hijo De La Luna" from Iberia shines in a sensitive and at the same time dark metallic outfit, emphasised by operatic magic, in line with the traditional songs which Haggard have recorded in the past, such as the old Swedish ballad "Herr Mannelig". And once more this experiment blends harmoniously into Haggard's sonic realm, into a dreamy cosmos full of enigmatic characters, such as Edris, Hammar, Sveldja, Wiese, Grimmbart and Alar, who battle over virtues such as courage, gallantry, honour, mercy and tolerance.


So enter the halls of the king and allow yourselves to be enchanted by the stories of Ithiria!


Peter Sailer