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Corvus Corax – Gimlie

gimlie

Corvus Corax is a band that is so exquisitely German, it is hard to not giggle. The music and aesthetics are over the top, yet very educated in their approach to music. This extremely talented band would seem quite cumbersome to get together in many parts of the world, but it seems a common thing in Germany to have a band featuring seven or more people. Combining Renaissance Folk with an upbeat dance feeling to it and an underlying heaviness that makes this acceptable to even the most extreme Metal fan, I would find it hard to not enjoy such an album, and enjoyment is exactly what this album is intended for.

It is meant to be an album to reflect on the times after Ragnarok, a concept that has come back into the popular mind in recent times. Ragnarok is speculated to be the dark times, three years of winter, father against Son, the Gods die, because in this Faith, the Gods are not so separated from humanity and die as well, and this world ends. The key word is this world, for a new world is to come and life will regenerate. Gimlie is a celebration of that new world, after the dark times are over, a rebirth and regeneration that is the very concept of Spring itself. Often in life, we have our proverbial dark nights of the soul, and most of us survive them. Some do not, some people go through irrevocable darkness, and will never be able to heal. This is not their song though, for these songs are for those who have survived, the ones who are putting the darkness behind them, celebrating the new world, the new life ahead of them with the lessons learned, or not, but regardless those days are over. Now, it is time to celebrate.  Sverker, the last album, spoke of the tragedies, and Gimlie speaks of the triumphs.

CorvusCorax_PK_2011-0215_01

Photograph by Markus Mirschel

These songs are fairly simplistic in approach, although they have a lot going on. The bagpipes are relentless, various horns are blown, and the constant heavy percussion beats on, along with some guitar and other instruments of antiquity (Shawm, Organistrum, Trumscheit, Buisine, and the Schlagbordun)  it is quite romantic, unicorns and beautiful maidens frolicking in clouds of glitter with beer steins in hand and smiles on everyone’s face, a glorious image for many. The percussive beats keep the heart skipping, and the low vocals almost sound ecclesiastical. This is music from a different time, far removed from our technological nightmare. These are the songs to be played on warm nights when things are well, no wars are to be fought and the bounty from last years harvest is still aplenty. This medieval music with an eccentric twist works best in the live setting, yet sitting here at home the energy is still cognizant, the vocals in German speaking of tales of times long ago.

Some have appropriately criticized much of the Pagan Metal scene as party music. The same could be said for Corvus Corax, but the difference is that this is done in a tasteful way that is not so much about simply getting drunk and acting like an imbecile, but to stop being a mopey Metalhead only contemplating on how terrible life is. I don’t know about you, but this is a lesson I need to learn, and I can guess a fair amount of the Metal and Industrial scene does as well. I can imagine a misanthropic youth laughing at this idea, but put that same youth in the middle of a Corvus Corax concert, and I can assure you they would soon be dancing along.  Unfortunately, as I will repeat below, this is not a concern, and the album is not enough to lift my normally sardonic spirit.

My one major complaint is how monotonous this whole thing is. The vocals are quite dull; the same low voice drones on and on with little variance. Everything is often the same rhythm, with only a few discrepancies. I like a lot of the parts of this band, but the bagpipes can get overbearing. They tend to dominate most of the songs, and the differences are few in how they sound throughout the whole album. Each song generally has the same pace, and similar vocal patterns. After awhile, I cannot even discern how one song is different from the next. Twilight of the Thunder God is certainly interesting, and will likely get quite the response from the Metal community,

This basically sounds like what anyone would imagine Medieval music to sound, regardless if that is what actual Medieval music sounded like or not. They certainly have studied this subject though, so I think it is safe to assume it is fairly accurate. Corvus Corax is a band I have enjoyed for quite some time, but always on a myopic level, where the first fifteen minutes may be interesting but after awhile its just bagpipes and more bagpipes, and honestly I’m not “chipper” enough to handle this music for too long. They are obviously very talented at what they do, and if I ever had a chance to see them live I would do so in a heartbeat. With that said though, it would take quite a few pints and the company of good friends to fully enjoy such a thing.   The 13th track, Krummavísur really stands out with the inclusion of female vocals, but that is not enough to save it. Some of it is a bit Gothic, such as the intro Die Seherin and I certainly appreciate the cover song and am sure many will, more for the sake of parody than anything.

The very energetic, big choruses show the camaraderie between these guys who have been doing this and other projects together for a long time now. It very much has that family feeling which is bound to happen when a large group like this performs together for so long. For all that is good about it though, little is great, and on album the eccentric aspects and high energy level that happens during performances is simply missing. Corvus Corax is certainly an interesting band that is deserving of recognition, more than anything for how odd and unique they are in many aspects. I cannot imagine many people enjoying such a thing on album though, as Gimlie fails to convey musically all the ideas they would like it too. Major fans will have better things to say, but for this band I’m a passerby and continue to consider this band as a whole worthwhile of looking into, but if not on stage then not entertaining enough to really pay that much attention to.

Track List:

01) Die Seherin (Intro)
02) Gimlie
03) Unicornis
04) Der Schrei
05) Königinnen Werden Ihr Neiden
06) Derdriu
07) Grendel
08) Béowulf Is Mín Nama
09) Sigeléasne Sang
10) Intro Crenaid Brain
11) Crenaid Brain
12) Twilight Of The Thunder God
13) Krummavísur
14) Twilight Of The Thunder God (Hymnus)

Rating: 3/5
Written by: Patrick Bertlein
Label: Behßmokum Records (DE) / 0209100BMK / CD
Medieval / Folk Rock

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