The album cover for the self-titled debut by Corona Borealis — essentially a project by Norwegian multi-instrumentalists Kristian Nordeide and Ronny Hovland (Aeturnus) — bears what appears to be a shadowy, faceless image of the grim reaper, sans scythe. Because it's too easy to judge a disc by its cover these days, this one could be dismissed as black metal or goth metal nonsense when, in fact, it's not really a metal album at all.
Eschewing electric and bass guitars for bagpipes, harps, the hurdy-gurdy and the lute, Nordeide, Hovland and a handful of guest musicians embrace the ancient and acoustic musical traditions of central France and western Norway. The album is completely void of lyrics, with Nordeide reportedly removing the original words from these songs because of their religious nature, thus leaving listeners with a pagan instrumental record. Melancholy, atmospheric soundscapes permeate the album, making for a moody and evocative listen that transcends generations and musical pigeonholing.
For what it's worth, "Corona Borealis" is a star constellation, and the name comes from the term in Greek mythology meaning "The Northern Crown."