Germany's Haggard, once again back with another dose of Symphonic Death Metal, another concept album but this time an original story of fantasy/medieval romance and war. Lyrically, this is in a similiar vein to Nightwish. Musically, the closest acts are Therion and Hollenthon but it has to be said Haggard are very much their own animal. Unlike the aforementioned acts , the emphasis is on the Classical first and then the Metal side, as opposed to the usual 'metal with orchestral touches' approach. It's a big ensemble of musicians in addition to the core bass/guitar/drums unit. Not a full symphony orchestra but much more than a chamber orchestra too. Timpani etc are all featured. The instruments are all 100% genuine - no synths or keyboards here! There are a lot of female, operatic vocals and choral sections on here and also the usual Death Metal vocals (which are usually accompanied by excessive bursts of double bass drumming!). Guitar work, particularly lead is a bit thin on the ground but it's not a problem. Bass is solid if unspectacular. Lyrics are split between English, Germanic, Latin and God knows what else! Highlights are the beautiful The Sleeping Child, the passionate Hijo De La Luna and the closing track - the rousing Hidden Sign (Great DM growls). I enjoyed it more than Awaking The Centuries but I still rate Eppur Si Muove as their masterpiece. Buy if you like Therion, Hollenthon, Opeth, Tarja era Nightwish, and maybe Priest's Nostradamus or Metallica's S&M - BE WARNED: THIS IS VERY CLASSICAL IN SOUND, MORE SO THAN THESE ACTS.