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Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion CD (album) cover

STORM CORROSION

Storm Corrosion

 

Eclectic Prog

3.75 | 362 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ScorchedFirth
4 stars (8/10)

So here it is at last, the long-awaited and much hyped collaboration between Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt, two of the biggest names in modern prog. This is the final part in a loose trilogy of albums along with Opeth's "Heritage" and Steven Wilson's excellent "Grace for Drowning". Although technically a 'supergroup' this project really doesn't end up feeling like merely the sum of it's parts. Fans (and indeed decided non-fans) of Opeth or Porcupine Tree should not go into this expecting it to sound like a direct mix of these two bands, what we have here is something very interesting, very different. I might even go so far as to say unique.

The music is certainly very hard to categorise, even the very broad term 'eclectic' doesn't quite give you an idea of what to expect. There are soft folky elements, atmospheric (even ambient) elements, and grand, almost cinematic, symphonic elements, the various textures seamlessly shifting and flowing into each other. Occasionally it can feel as if not quite enough is happening (I am generally not a fan of anything that could be considered 'ambient') but all in all it's easy enough to lose yourself in the flow of the sounds, and remain absorbed for the duration of this album. The music sounds a lot like the freaky cover art may lead you to expect.

Even in the brighter moments there is quite often a dark, almost unsettling tone festering just below the surface. It's scary in the same way the best horror films are scary, by (mostly) not letting you see the monster properly. "Hag" is a good example of this, it begins quietly, building tension with the minimal arrangement before finally reaching a sinister eruption. After this the song winds back down, ending with the haunting sound of faraway laughter, which ceases upon the final (almost whispered) word, 'silence'. Clever little touches like this are part of what brings the album to life. The attention to detail is good, and as with anything Steven Wilson is involved in, it is produced really thoughtfully.

There were rumours of plans to include Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater drummer) in this album, which I am glad he was not. The band stated that there was not really "room for drums" in the music, and I think I would agree with this assessment, especially someone like Portnoy. As good a drummer as he is, I doubt he would have brought the subtlety required. Here drums are used sparingly, and handled by long-time Porcupine Tree drummer, Gavin Harrison. They consist mostly of subtle percussion, or are not there at all. The only moment where this is not true is the chaotic distorted drum solo supplied toward the end of "Hag" but even then, the so-called 'telephone' effect used makes it more a part of the overall sound than something in the forefront, and it isn't particularly high in the mix.

Wilson and Åkerfeldt apparently made this record with exactly equal 50/50 contributions from each, and were surprised at how much their egos did not clash. It definitely feels like a unified project, with Wilson handling the arrangements/keyboards/vocal lines and Åkerfeldt concentrating on the basic structure and the guitars. Vocal Duties are shared between Wilson and Åkerfeldt (who only uses his 'clean' voice). Wilson takes the lead for the middle 4 songs, and Åkerfeldt the bookends, supplying some truly angelic falsetto on the album closer "Ljudet Innan", for a death metal icon. They both harmonise together very well, voices complimenting each other, especially on "Drag Ropes" which features some fantastic melodic singing, as well as probably the best of the symphonic elements on the album. Another highlight is the title track, "Storm Corrosion", a flowing hypnotic piece. Towards the end, a disturbing ambient noise grows steadily, before reaching a crescendo and flickering out of existence, leaving the song to conclude with the air of a malevolent lullaby. "Happy" is a bit of a weak track though does still work in the context of the album. It is followed quickly by "Lock Howl" which is probably my personal favourite, with it's building acoustic rhythms that are surprisingly catchy.

It's the overall atmosphere of the album that is it's key feature. I realise that 'atmosphere' can sometimes be a bit of a dirty word that is often assumed to mean 'boring' but I can assure you this is not the case, this music is something you can really lose yourself in. The only thing I can think to compare it to is a more symphonic version of the progressive folk band "Comus", who Åkerfeldt has acknowledged as an influence. It's often the same kind of wonderful creepy as "First Utterance".

I would recommend this album even to people who normally don't like the works of Wilson or Åkerfeldt, it really is a fascinating listen. Not bad for an album that they both describe as being made by two guys on a sofa, drunk on wine, and watching horror movies. Pretty good, in fact, and a real surprise. Give it a chance to grow on you, and if you think you might like it, check out the video for "Drag Ropes", a dark tragedy told with shadow puppets!

ScorchedFirth | 4/5 |

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