Posted by Guest Writer on Tue, 29 May 2012.
'Storm Corrosion' is the highly anticipated collaboration between progressive overlords Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, No-Man) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth). Originally planned to be prog-metal, the collaboration developed to be something far more unique. Though fans knew what to expect, 'Storm Corrosion' exceeds these expectations by entwining the two writers styles, becoming even more than the sum of its parts. If nothing else, this album is unlike anything else you will hear for a long time.
For those who are not already fans of the two writers, 'Storm Corrosion' has elements of jazz, folk, progressive music, and styling that would not find the album out of place as a film score. The album steers clear of all things obvious and easy – there is no metal to be found on the record, though fans of progressive metal may find something they like. 'Storm Corrosion' could be described as orchestral, but that does not fully accredit the album's understated sound.
Those familiar with Åkerfeldt's band Opeth will find that he has moved away from his death-metal influences for this album; there are none of his powerful guttural vocals and no aggressive black metal elements on the album. A better touchstone for 'Storm Corrosion' would be Steven Wilson's solo releases – elements from both 'Insurgentes' and 'Grace for Drowning' can be heard within 'Storm Corrosion', woven into Åkerfeldt's folk-inspired guitar work, showcased by Opeth's acoustic album 'Damnation'. The product is ominous, richly textured, and unusual in the best of ways.
The gentle feel sometimes makes the album easy to drift through, but the album is filled with subtle nuance that would be missed under more casual scrutiny. The work has been described as an emotional journey – each song has a story to tell, and though the uniformly melancholic feel may be tiresome to some, cult followers of the two musicians will find themselves entirely at ease with the familiar style, even as it is presented in new and original ways.
The vocals are highly reminiscent of the rich vocal harmonies Wilson explores in Porcupine Tree, while melodies shift between guitars, pianos, and strings. The album does not tie itself together with any main motif, but each song finds a sound and builds on it. The opening track 'Drag Ropes' dances on the verge of discordance, but never steps too far away from the melody. Wilson's touch is evidence with the chaotic-sounding whole-tone sound, which would not sound out of place on a King Crimson record. The title track 'Storm Corrosion' steps back a little, with gentle flutes and guitars over a slowly building soundscape, which grows from gentle rain to deafening noise over the course of the track, before cutting out, to return to the forlorn style the track first establishes.
'Hag' begins very slowly, suggesting abstract notes before constructing the melody out of them. The track has a semi-upbeat jazz feel to it, with Pat Metheny-style guitar and vocal melodies. The droning ambience underlying 'Hag' sounds very similar to Wilson's first solo album, gently seeding tension before the melody is supplanted by crashing discordance over wild drum soloing, performed by Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison.
'Happy' begins with Wilson's dolorous style before breaking to a chiming acoustic guitar, highly similar to some of Opeth's quieter moments. 'Lock Howl' marches onwards with more ambiguous feelings and melodies, infused with foreboding soundscapes that give the track a very dark edge. The album ends on 'Ljudet Innan', opening with gloomy ballad before surrendering the rest of the track to a restrained, ambient theme, the vocals subdued to become another part of the airy, almost sanguine ending to the album.
'Drag Ropes' and 'Storm Corrosion' are fantastic opening tracks, but the quality of writing is consistent – There is not a moment on the album that feels like filler, nor a section that adds nothing to the album. The record has been worked to the highest standard, and this is evident; Storm Corrosion is a world away from anything similar, and yet it still finds ways at times to sound pleasantly familiar to the listener. Fans of progressive music will love this record, and though outsiders may need to find a way in, the journey is worth it for the reward. Wilson/ Åkerfeldt cultists knew it would be good, and will definitely agree that it was worth the wait.
There is currently no plan to tour 'Storm Corrosion'. In the mean time, Steven Wilson has just finished touring his most recent solo album, 'Grace for Drowning', whilst Mikael Åkerfeldt is touring with Opeth to support their latest album, 'Heritage'.
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-Review by Dan