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Corvus Corax

  • Folk Metal / Germany

The story of CORVUS CORAX is a quite colourful one: The band was founded back in 1989 by Wim and Castus when during their escape from the former GDR they started playing in the streets. Very soon it became obvious that this band was about more than just making a living with gigs at the markets and castles all over Europe. As real innovators of the understanding of medieval music they paved the way for a thriving scene, creating an image of minstrels of bygone times.

This groundbreaking work has helped countless younger groups become established within the scene. Always aware of the threat of stagnation CORVUS CORAX kept on enlarging their vision step by step: Thanks to continuous experiments with instruments such as bagpipes and the largest hurdy-gurdy in the world (the so-called "Organistrum", developed by Wim) as well as their mammoth project "Cantus Buranus" with its merging of classical and medieval influences and finally their tireless search for fresh musical wells in libraries an on their travels. Up to now this search has led them as far as India and China, though essentially CORVUS CORAX is mainly rooted in Central and Western Europe from France to the Balkans.

Yet after 22 years the time was right for a new direction. For their new album "Sverker" Corvus Corax found their inspiration further up north in the ancient countries of the Vikings and Celts: Peoples who have long since faded into legend yet still provide the cultural framework for this new chapter.

Still identifying themselves with traditional Central European minstrels CORVUS CORAX carefully assimilate the songs, tunes and dances they discover in the band´s typical grouping. Based on bagpipes, shawms, citterns, drums from all over the world and the giant hurdy-gurdy they create the unparalleled sound of Corvus Corax. This sound is complemented by traditional folk music from Ireland and Scandinavia: Viking tunes, Celtic poetry, and ballads are thrown in to complete the picture. The result is a versatile, atmospheric and harmonious piece of art consisting of instrumentals and vocal tracks for which singer Castus delved deeply into the ancient languages of the North. On "Sverker" he sings in Gaelic (Old Irish), Old Norse and Danish. By combining so many influences this is powerful and partly martial dance music of Viking heritage with dreamy and longing hints.

The title track "Sverker" reminds us of the Swedish King Sverker II who went to his Danish opponent to reason with him about the consequences of war and finally succeeded in agreeing upon a cease-fire: "Denn nehmen die Ritter ihr Schild und Schwert // Dann weinen so viele" translates into "For when the knights raise their shields and swords // so many will weep." In musical terms the Celtic harp meets wailing bagpipe tunes, the giant hurdy-gurdy, and a shuffling drum rhythm.

The interpretation of the much vaunted apocalyptical tale "Ragnarök" from the Old Norse saga Völuspá is most impressive:  Even though in the wolf age the world sinks into chaos the Ragnarök still predicts the genesis of a golden age for mankind. Hence the music doesn´t describe the end of the world as a grievous age but rather as a wild and hypnotic time. CORVUS CORAX are ironically contemplating 2012 which - according to the Mayan calendar - is another candidate for the end of the world and thereby provide a perfect soundtrack for a memorable doomsday party.

The Celtic song "Fiach Dubh" is far more cheerful: Spring is here and a raven´s call wakes up all living beings. An interesting interplay between major and minor keys livens up things and calls us all to dance and celebrate all night.

You can sleep when you´re dead, so enjoy life to the fullest" is every true minstrel´s creed. The Vikings seem to have shared this notion. That´s why CORVUS CORAX relate to them with their song "The drinking, loving Dancers". Though in terms of music and lyrics "typically CORVUS CORAX" this song still is something special: Originally a Norse tune the song is sung in English and on top of that surprises with a German chorus. So there´s no doubt: this one´s the real blast on "SVERKER" which closes with the Gaelic tune "Naláma-sa", a tribute to the ancestors. In this yearning and solemn tune CORVUS CORAX let the ancient cry for freedom be heard while their gaze wanders along the Irish coastlines.

During the recording of "SVERKER" CORVUS CORAX were on the road quite a lot. In 2011 they travelled no less than 11 different countries. Often the band noticed that they were followed by two ravens – their "titular saints". It seems a likely supposition that Odin himself, the major god of Norse mythology, sent his two feathered scouts Huginn and Muninn to shadow the minstrels on the road. What a nice thought…

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