If the Vikings had had electric guitars – exclusive interview with Norri Drescher of Corvus Corax Era Metallum

German neo-medieval-meets-metal ensemble Corvus Corax Era Metallum has revealed the second single and video “Yggdrasill,” from their upcoming self-titled album, due out September 4.

Yggdrasill” is the lyrical depiction of the self-sacrifice on the world ash tree in honor of Odin. Embedded with sawing guitar riffs and hypnotic flute and bagpipe sounds, vocalist Castus Karsten Liehm’s sonorous singing conveys the victim’s experience – being intoxicated by toadstools and henbane, hanging on the tree, bleeding and in trance, announcing the wisdom of the all-father Odin.

“Yggdrasill, the tree of life, connects the entire world,” – explained drummer, Norbert “Norri” Drescher in a press release. “It is where Odin was sacrificing himself by drinking his own blood mixed with honey wine, hanging in that tree for nine nights. It is where Odin died and resurrected to get the eternal wisdom of Yggdrasill.”

corvuscorax_album

Already known for mighty drums, impressive stage shows, and an imposing bagpipe wall, Corvus Corax is going one step further with Corvus Corax Era Metallum. Blending the epic sound that Corvus Corax has come to be known for with the force of metal, Corvus Corax Era Metallum is a unique experience. With passionate metal guitars (courtesy of Kreator guitarist, Sami Yli-Sirniö) and skillful, progressive drums, Corvus Corax Era Metallum shapes their well-known playing styles into a successful symbiosis of traditional instruments and heavy metal. If the Vikings had had electric guitars, this is the form of metal would probably have been produced.

Since 1989, Corvus Corax has contributed significantly to the development of medieval music. With mystical and myth-enshrouded albums like Mille Anni Passi Sunt, Corvus Corax awakened old gods and legends, while records like Sverker and Gimlie invoke Celtic and Nordic traditions and present the Viking culture in modern times.

The creative heritage conservation of Corvus Corax even caught the attention of Hollywood composer, Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean), who approached the group to write music for the film, Ironclad. The band’s bagpipes and drums can be heard in the BBC documentary The Crusades, presented by Monty Python-legend Terry Jones, as well as in the computer game “Dragon Age.” Producers of HBO’s mega-hit series Game of Thrones were also so impressed by Corvus Corax that they invited them to play live on set for a scene in the pilot episode, which sadly did not make it into the final cut.

 

NorriDrescher_CorvusCorax
Photo: Heiko Roith

“My start into the universe of metal music begun definitely 1984 with the Noise Records Compilation ‘Death Metal'”Norri Drescher told us. “Back then my best friend always tried to convince me to listen to metal music, but I was only interested in electronic and industrial music like SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Laibach, Kraftwerk, Dead Can Dance, etc. I didn’t like punk or metal music at all. But on that compilation were to tracks from Hellhammer (later known as Celtic Frost). I immediately fell in love with this crazy mix of metal and hardcore/punk. Same year Slayer came up with “Show no mercy” and I was finally converted into a metal maniac. A short list of my all-time faves: Celtic Frost, Slayer, Napalm Death, Boltthrower, Entombed, Terrorizer, Godflesh, Mekong Delta, SOD, Repulsion, and Morbid Angel.

First I had no plan to become a musician. I was studying and straight on my way to become a paleontologist. But since I was a kid I was drumming on everything I could find. Boxes, cooking pots and lids, and all that stuff. We had no money for a real drumset but fortunately, my parents were really understanding and let me ruin all the kitchen things. (laughs) Finally, I bought my first cheap and used drumset and started to play with some friends. Some years later I became a member of the young band “Depressive Age”. We were quite successful and touring with Sodom, Nuclear Assault, Coroner (Sic!), Motörhead, Entombed… This was taking most of my time and around 1994 I had to decide to quit playing in a band or to stop my career as a scientist. This was the moment I decided to be a full-time musician. Probably the most challenging decision in my life and I never regret it.”

Two days prior to the impending German shutdown due to COVID-19, Corvus Corax Era Metallum performed their first-ever streaming concert at a medieval countryside house. “It was a weird situation. All shows for 2020 were already canceled, or it was obvious that it will happen. From one day to the other mostly all our income of the year was gone. But crying is no solution and we came up very fast with the idea to make a streaming concert. We never did this before. Usually, we can play everywhere, even if we had no booked shows, we would play on the streets. But this wasn’t allowed too. So, because we heard the announced shutdown actually wouldn’t allow us to meet at all we recorded a show next to our studios. With no audience. That was kind of spooky. I was telling myself that there will be listeners – they are just invisible and far away. And it really worked – I had big fun ‘on stage’! The feedback was amazing. The people were so happy to see us and to get some distraction.

corvuscorax_2
Photo: Heiko Roith

Besides the financial aspect, the effect to our work in the studio is immense. Under these circumstances, we can’t work together. So, I’m working now alone in the studio, recording my drums, editing, pre-mixing… Of course, it takes much more time to create new songs. Otherwise, I have to teach my older son because the school is closed. It is a challenge to organize all this. But so far it seems I’m kind of successfully managing all this.

Life of a musician is challenging. It is full of ups and downs. You’ll never know what the future is keeping in hand. But the COVID-19 experience is extraordinarily difficult to handle. We’ll see maybe next year how immense this impact finally will be.

If anyone wanna help us: stay healthy and come to our concerts in the future. That’s the best help ever. Right now you can visit our website  – you’ll find there all the necessary information for merchandise, donation option, etc.”

If you have seen even only a photoshoot of the band (well, if you’re reading this you probably have) then you may also notice their unique style and stage presence. Surprisingly the band members create most of the stuff, or even they work together with friends to implement their ideas. “It would be strange if someone else would create all the visuals and we would just act with and in it on stage. It is part of us. We love to wear these costumes. It is definitely an important part of our energy on stage. I can remember the discussions during my time with the Depressive Age. I was all the time trying to convince my bandmates that the visuals on stage could support our music on stage. The answer was always like “no, this will distract the audience from our music” or “costumes and too much other visuals were only used by musicians to hide their bad playing”. A lot of musicians had this opinion these times. Fortunately, it changed. Many bands now using divers visual options to create great shows. I love this combination of excellent music and entertainment.”

And what about the upcoming album? “As you know we are a band usually playing ‘old’ music only with acoustic instruments. When we started 2010 with the production of our album “Sverker”, we decided to set our focus to the northern cultures of the Celts and Vikings. I don’t know why, but during this period we got a weird “metal-feeling” with the new songs. Since then, we had the idea to have metal versions of our songs. Now, 10 years later we are doing it. It’s so great to play metal again after all these years. And my good old friend Sami (Yli-Sirniö, Kreator) is playing the guitars like a devil. (smiles)

Extra questions:

-Describe the upcoming album in 5 words!

-Progressive nordic pagan drone metal.

-If you could go back in time, which era would you choose, who you’d be, and why?

-I would go to the Ediacaran Era to watch these extremely weird alienlike lifeforms at the beginning of our evolution.

-There’s anything you’d add?

-Listen: the bad mood is wasting a lifetime!

 

Pre-order “Yggdrasill” on the following link:

corvuscorax_album_promo

Posted by

"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.