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Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion CD (album) cover


Storm Corrosion


Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 435 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Expect the unexpected...

Storm Corrosion is the culmination of prog legends Mikael Akerfeldt on guitars and vocals, and of course Steven Wilson on keyboards and vocals. They are joined by Porcupine Tree's Gavin Harrison on drums, and most notably Ben Castle on woodwinds. The flute in particular really makes the album feel like a kind of avant folk journey. Most of the album is surprisingly ambient and serene, beautiful and dreamy. I expected at least some metal but Akerfeldt holds back and injects his blend of acoustics and soft vocals. A song like 'Storm Corrosion' perhaps would not belong on an Opeth, or Porcupine Tree, but here it is mesmirising and soaked in Mellotron as is most of the album. The album has a kind of pastoral psych feel and is acoustic to the max with acid folk nuances. It will take some time to get into for all these reasons, but I really thought it would have more to recommend it than just an organic minimalist acid folk approach. It is a totally unexpected gentle soundscape throughout and did not resonate with me.

There are some rather odd tracks here such as 'Drag Ropes' that even has some Gentle Giant harmonies a cappela style thrown in. The tracks are rather lengthy and complex, with 3 clocking around 10 minutes. The atmospheres are rather bleak at times such as on the 6 minute mark of the title track that is discordant. The ominous music is as dark as Wilson's latest solo "Grace For Drowning" or any number of Opeth albums. There is a sadness or melancholica to the album, though I am not sure of what the songs actually mean, nor does Akerfeldt apparently. I can guess they involve coping with loss or death, ghostly apparitions, or feeling empty due to tragic circumstances. None of it is uplifting but focusses on depression and the extreme end of disturbing emotions.

The feature in Issue 25, April 2012, Prog Magazine clarifies a few things. The album is described as "a sprawling, amorphous journey through fragile but foreboding soundscapes that takes in everything from elegiac acoustic folk and shimmering shadow shrouded psychedelia through to bursts of disorientating noise and scything swathes of diaphanous orchestral horror". Well after that outburst of poetic alliteration, the article settles down and we hear from the mouths of the protagonists themselves. Wilson says, "there's a lot of inspiration from ghost stories, and by that I mean quite classical, old ideas, like witchfinder generals and hauntings, and that's all in the music too." He goes on to state they were influenced by their muses Scott Walker, notably the grotesque "The Drift", Radiohead and Comus so little wonder this is disturbing and bleak. Akerfeldt states, "you really have to sit down and listen to it properly on your own" otherwise it "is going to pass like elevator muzak."

The music is designed to evoke an emotional response that a listener will personally elicit from their experience. 'Hag' is extemely quiet for most of it and sounds sad and ethereal in places. This is as quiet as I have heard from these two prog masters. The mellotron on this is very organic, swathes of ambience and a lonely piano accompany Wilson's high register soft delivery. This is one of the gentlest songs but still has ominous overtones due to the odd melody. I like the weird buzzing wasp synths at the end and distorted guitar with tortured manic percussion that really punches a hole in the silence. Harrison stated that, "I was thinking about a kind of Christian Vander vibe." It is a dark sound and grinds with some ghostly effects before it settles down with flute like the calm after a storm. The sound of canned laughter is derisive but effective too like voices in the head.

'Happy' follows, and I was hoping for some kind of rhythm to lock into after all the melancholy previously. It begins acoustically with Wilson's gentle longing vocals. It sounds anything but happy until we get to the more upbeat section at 2 and a half minutes in. The vocals are consistently soft, not a shred of growling here, and it tends to build into musical shapes that evoke melancholy feelings and ghostly weirdness abounds. This is extremely low key, with minimalism and gentle feather touches on instruments. The somnolent music feels like a half awake state, druggish and profoundly bleak.

'Lock Howl' continues the otherworldly atmosphere, and I love the acoustic rhythms on this in 6/3, definitely welcome after the last track. This has a cinematic feel and almost is like a soundtrack to some ghost story, purely beautiful but with dark overtones. The instrumental moves along lucidly with Mellotron and ominous bass, and the end feels like a classical music piece.

'Ljudet Innan', which is Swedish for 'ancient music', closes the album with a 10:20 mini epic, beginning with quiet atmospheres, and nice reverberating keyboard chimes. The very high register vocals are surprising, and it builds to shadowy dead silence. Gradually a sound emanates with spacey cosmic nuances and grows in volume, reminding me of the clandestine mysteries of "2001: A Space Odyssey". This is dreamscape ambience and is akin to Tangerine Dream in places. It breaks eventually into a gentle rhythm and gorgeous keyboard reverbs. Akerfeldt finally begins a delightful guitar solo but this almost sent me to sleep, it is so dreamy.

With these two colossal prog giants colliding I was expecting a masterful cataclysm of prog genius. I didn't get it. Instead we have a very ethereal gentle dark, at times downright depressing and disturbing, journey into a world that only Akerfeldt and Wilson could inhabit. This is almost lulling me to sleep, not that it is a bad album, but I was surprised at how melancholy it was and minimalist. I think this will surprise many listeners too, perhaps even disappoint. Don't expect a shred of metal, and don't expect the genius of Porcupine Tree, as it is not here. Instead this is a very personal journey, the band are not interested in their past glories at all, they are not interested in reproducing any of their previous work, or pleasing their huge fanbase; this is entirely a different beast. Not a dreadful mess but no masterpiece despite what you might have heard; I was slightly disappointed as nothing here jumps out to recommend, rather it is just a soft atmospheric bleak story that concerns, I later learnt, someone who lost his wife to a pagan religion so he burns down a church, of which I have little interest as I don't want to focus on such things. I will stick to Opeth and Porcupine Tree in future.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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