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Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion CD (album) cover

STORM CORROSION

Storm Corrosion

 

Eclectic Prog

3.76 | 359 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Whatever you think this album will be, it isn't. Upon hearing that this eponymous debut from Storm Corrosion is a collaboration between Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt and Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson, you might be tempted to imagine that this will sound like some kind of combination of the two bands. It doesn't. It doesn't sound like anything PT or Opeth have ever done; it doesn't sound like Heritage and it doesn't even sound like Grace For Drowning, despite being the third part of the unofficial trilogy made up by those two albums and this one.

That said, in my opinion it's the best of them. This is the kind of album that takes the listener on a voyage, that you just want to put on a nice stereo system and close your eyes and let the music carry you away. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Talk Talk, not necessarily in how it actually sounds but just in how exquisitely it's put together. With the exception of one exceedingly minor blip (more on that later), every track feels perfectly composed and paced, with 10 minute songs that seem to pass in the blink of an eye and gorgeous soundscapes that feel like portals to other worlds. Opeth or Porcupine this may not be, but if you're willing to let this album speak for itself then I think you'll find it has a lot to say.

"Drag Ropes" starts off on an almost minimalist note, with orchestral, slowly alternating chords providing background for Mikael Akerfeldt's precisely delivered clean vocals. It isn't long before Steven Wilson adds his voice to the mix as well, and the music is elaborated upon for a while before Wilson begins a repeating sort of vocal mantra. This slowly fades out, and an instrumental section begins with gorgeous piano and orchestration. "Drag Ropes" is utterly and completely different than anything Wilson or Akerfeldt has done before, but it's also utterly beautiful and features some of the most powerful and moving music either of the two has ever recorded even if it is in a more atmospheric vein than the metal for which the two have been more known in recent times. "Drag Ropes" is an amazing opener and a clear demarcation separating Storm Corrosion from Opeth or Porcupine Tree.

The title track is quite beautiful as well, featuring an acoustic guitar part as well as some winds along with delicate vocals courtesy of Wilson. The overall effect reminds me quite strongly of, of all people, Nick Drake, with soft delivery and folky atmosphere reminding quite strongly of the late Mr. Drake's work. Listening to this track, you really get a feel for how excellent and subtle a vocalist Steven Wilson can be, a facet of his musicianship which has perhaps been overlooked in the past. Additionally, while this is miles and miles away from anything Opeth has ever done, one can definitely hear the Mikael Akerfeldt stamp on the guitar part, which brings a strange and ever so faint sense of familiarity to the track. Lest the listener become too comfortable, however, at about the six minute mark the track switches gears, morphing and devolving into an almost ambient piece, replete with low dronings and vaguely atnonal atmospheres. From this sonic miasma, however, a guitar part reappears, and as it retakes center stage Wilson's vocals reappear as well. They last only briefly, however, and the track ends with gorgeous, folky instrumental melodies that give way to a brief, almost abrasive soundscape before the track fades away completely.

"Hag" begins in a very minimalist vein as well, with some very spare guitar and keyboards creating a mysterious soundscape behind extremely delicate vocals from Mr. Wilson. The track takes on a heavier tone as it progresses, developing an almost industrial sound in its final minutes. Nonetheless, it is far more concerned with atmosphere than with instrumental gymnastics, and the ambiences it does create are spectacular, haunting and beautiful all in one. Wilson's vocals, of course, are perfect for this kind of music; they're ethereal and shimmering and they enhance the atmosphere perfectly without distracting from it.

"Happy" is anything but, coming off as more unsettling than anything. With ominous, almost creepy keyboard and guitar parts and the familiar, ghostly vocal stylings of Steven Wilson, "Happy" comes off equal parts horror movie soundtrack and ambient-folk song. Despite being the shortest song on the album, it's one of the best, exquisitely composed and executed and making use of one of the widest sonic palettes this side of Talk Talk. Excellent, beautiful, disturbing stuff.

"Lock Howl" follows in a similar vein, though it's a bit more melodic than "Happy," with a picked guitar part backed perfectly by orchestral sounds and keyboards. A fully instrumental track, parts of it sound like they could have come off of Grace For Drowning, and it's probably the album's most approachable number, though a bizarre, dissonant ambient section in the middle keeps it from being too easy a listen. Nonetheless, it's definitely the easiest to digest, and fans of Grace For Drowning should find it quite enjoyable, though in my opinion it comes off as a bit of a weak link (especially in the second half). It's not that there's even anything really wrong with it, it just doesn't seem as perfect as the rest of the album, which is a pretty darn nit-picky complaint.

"Ljudet Innan," on the other hand, is anything but easy to digest. It's also one of the album's strongest tracks, in my opinion, with beautifully spare orchestrated soundscapes and some truly otherworldly vocals from Mr. Akerfeldt. The real highlight of the track, though, is the beautifully restrained guitar part that glides in halfway through the track. It's jazzy but at the same time incredibly relaxed, providing a perfect focal point amid the gorgeous ambience of the rest of the music. When Wilson's vocals come in after this, the track ratchets up another level towards nirvana, and by the time the closing strains of the track fade out the listener is left with a palpable sense of peace, a testament to the powerful atmosphere this track is able to conjur up.

Overall, this is a nearly flawless album. While the (in my opinion) slight comparative weakness of "Lock Howl" keeps it from attaining perfect masterpiece status in my eyes, this is nonetheless a stunning album and one that contains some of the finest work Wilson or Akerfeldt have ever put forward. If you are expecting this to sound like Opeth or Porcupine Tree or even some combination of the two, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a beautiful, otherworldly trip then this is the album for you. I suspect this one will end up on more than one end of the year top-list, and I'm certain that it will end up on mine.

4.5/5, rounded up

VanVanVan | 5/5 |

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