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STORM CORROSION

Storm Corrosion

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars Are you a fan of Opeth and/or Porcupine Tree? And do you expect music in the same vein from Storm Corrosion, the collaboration of Opeth's Mikael Äkerfeldt and PT's Steven Wilson? Please skip this album. You will be very disappointed. Also if you like Blackfield, No-Man or Steven Wilson solo, no comparison to this work. Stop reading this article and look further. On the other hand, if you have an open mind towards the experiment and if you are capable of listening without prejudice, you may be in for a surprise. If you're still reading this, what can you expect from this long awaited and anticipated album? Let me try to give a description. Storm Corrosion is a blend of folk, ambient, Simon & Garfunkel-like community singing and a bunch of odd sounds. Lots of instrumental passages, acoustic guitar by Äkerfeldt and 10% of drums at the most, kind courtesy of Gavin Harrison of PT fame. Any wiser now? I hardly think so. Open up to this album and don't let it scare you off first time. Give it a couple of spins and let it grow on you. It lasts 50 minutes at the most, so it shouldn't be too much trouble. Like most other work that involves Steven Wilson this album takes a little getting used to, but eventually you will be abundantly rewarded!

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Send comments to LakesideRitchie (BETA) | Report this review (#756892)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
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!

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Send comments to ScorchedFirth (BETA) | Report this review (#756899)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is truly a portal to another world. The ethereal atmosphere is breathtaking, beautiful, and many times even frightening. Mikael's Guitar riffs, while sounding quite familiar to those in Opeth, are seamlessly assimilated into a totally new style, which is hauntingly romantic. I got the same sort of emotions from this masterpiece as from Still Life. While Steven Wilson sings most of the vocal lines, It sounds like to me that Mikael's style dominated the record, though not in a bad way. Steven Wilson's signature keyboard/string effects compliment Mikael's musical style in a brilliant manner. If you like either of these artists, or love them both to death like me, you will certainly not be disappointed if you have an open musical mind, as any progger should. The only thing I know that is anything like this album is Maudlin of the Well or Kayo Dot, but those two simply pale in creativity and emotion when put up against this masterpiece of Progressive music.

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Send comments to PlaceoftheForgotten (BETA) | Report this review (#757200)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Had Talk Talk and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez collaborated on King Crimson's A Scarcity of Miracles, they might have made an album similar to this. The album has interesting moments, but is drearily boring most of the time, especially during the second half. This music is for those who enjoy avant-folk with symphonic and jazz elements, but don't mind waiting around for things to happen. I cannot see fans of Opeth or Porcupine Tree appreciating this as much as they might hope to; it lacks energy, and in many places could be the soundtrack for a B-horror film.

"Drag Ropes" Storm Corrosion begins in a cinematic way, with dark strings, piano, and Mikael Åkerfeldt's soft voice. Steven Wilson's vocal additions are hypnotic and cool, especially right before a flute-like passage. The middle section consists of a Gentle Giant vocal array. The strings are well done. The last passage is an acoustic part with both men singing in an unsettling nature over other disquieting instrumentation.

"Storm Corrosion" Opening with a storm and woodwind, the title track is the most pleasant aspect of the album. The classical guitar that fades in is quite wonderful and comforting. Wilson sings well here. The clean guitar is country-like and much welcome, as is the middle section with its percussion and keyboards. It develops unsettling keyboards and sounds for a while like a bad horror soundtrack.

"Hag" Despite two distinct parts, this sounds like a Steven Wilson entry on a Porcupine Tree album. It is depression, slow-moving, and has Mellotron-like sounds.

"Happy" Ironically titled perhaps, this song is dreary and has depressing vocals in harmony.

"Lock Howl" A long tone opens this, over which an acoustic guitar run falls. The middle passage is very much like Grace for Drowning, yet what comes after is just noise. The acoustic guitar aspect is the most endearing part.

"Ljudet Innan" Falsetto vocal and quavering electric piano begin the final track. The cinematic element here, with the choir and piano is the most moving aspect. It is lovely and symphonic, if still bleak. The guitar work thereafter is well-performed but has far, far too much reverb. There is a singing passage thereafter by Wilson, but it is lifeless, as much of this album is. The subsequent guitar solo is more interesting.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#757242)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Shake your 70's Dark influences, take two of the best musicians of the decade, and then you'll have a modern masterpiece.

Maybe if you mixed Wilson&Akerdfelt, you wouldnt' expect an album like this. The two genius solved their restlessness doing a 50minute-song like a dark soundtrack. Not specifically a prog-sound-album, but yes a prog-concept-album.

For me, we have an underrated album, because general opinion expected the personal facet of Wilson and Akerfeldt added. This is an experiment, an experimental soundtrack thar reminds me Talk Talk later albums.

Maybe Wilson&Akerfeldt could rescue Mark Hollis from the 'musical edge' to lead vocals in a future similar project.

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Send comments to Popovych (BETA) | Report this review (#757423)
Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Opeth+Porcupine Tree=King Crimson

This strange equation comes to mind just few minutes after starting to listen to STORM CORROSION. Since from the first track the connection to KC is more than just an impression. The sounds, the textures, everything says KC. "Drag Ropes" has unexpected connections with the work of the Italians AKT who are used to KC covers. Also the classic guitar close to the end of the song seems crying the name of Fripp.

The title track starts with a keyboard's flute. Before the classical guitar joins it could be Stravinskij. The song is slow. The first impression is of a PT song, but the Opeth imprinting is present as well. The electric guitar, likely overdubbed, would have sounded Floydian with just a bit more of sustain. It's a great song good for every taste which changes mood in the second part becoming unexpectedly darker. I see the first part as the sensation of quietness just before sleeping, then you fall into a dream that becomes slightly bad. The dark part reminds to the Hell side of Vangelis H&H. Then it comes back to the initial theme to close.

"Hag" has chaotic parts, borderline with avant specially in the middle section when the drums take the ownership of the song. Before and after it's a slow and atmospheric song, still with connections with KC but more bluesy. It proceeds very smoothly until minute 4 when the chaotic part arrives and goes as suddenly as it came.

Acoustic guitar and voice start the shortest song of the album. For the chords and the vocals I think to Robert Wyatt solo works. A very complex song even if short. The bluesy guitar in the second part of the song has made me think to Peter Green, while the noisy final has an avant flavor.

The eclectism is manifest on "Lock Howl". A long repetitive intro sets up a hypnotic environment. Here I can catch elements of both Opeth and PT on the respective instruments. After 3 minutes it looses the melodic part and becomes quite psychedelic. The middle part of Interstellar Overdrive comes to my mind, then the acoustic guitar restarts giving the tempo as in the first minutes. It's a very interesting track with a lot of contents. The sudden closure is a kick on your balls while you are sleeping. A hateful end for a good track.

The falsetto on "Ljudet Innan"(will sound before) reminds again to Robert Wyatt. It's followed by 5 minutes of peaceful keyboards which lead to a soft bluesy tune. The atmosphere is now jazz when the singing restarts. Slow jazz and falsetto can't not remind to Wyatt again. The song proceeds alternating several parts until the end. The only element of continuity is a piano note always identical.

It's not a very easy album, even if people familiar with a certain kind of music could think differently, but it's an excellent album to which I give 4 stars. Don't look for Opeth or Porcupine Tree. This is different from both.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#758403)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are two types of prog (or any type of music) fans. There are those who like the same thing (here... one or more subgenres of classic 70's prog), over and over again, with little changes in this or that nuance... and there are listereners who always expect and need new music, original music, that has the sparkle of creation embodied into a new being. We could call this second type of listener: the progressive listener.

The first type mentioned here will not enjoy this one. No further comments. However the second type of listerens will most likely enjoy this one. Of course, that doesn't mean that every musical experimentation would and should be appreciated. What we actually look for is: new music, with an internal coherence, that says something in its own and unique way, with the help of its original structure.

"Storm Corrosion" is probably one of the best records and pieces of music ever. Imposing its own rhythm, with its own voice, it manages to reach a very archaic realm of meaning during its relationship with the listener.

Phenomenologically, the album has this alternation, this permanent forebringing and withdrawal from and in-to the light. There are moments where this bidirectional movement is very fast and blunt, and there are moments which require and have a build-up behind them, in order to show themselves gently, poetically, but firmly and... here-to-stay.

This is on of the few albums that has an idea and not a concept: the idea of un-becoming, of what is after one's own peak (of the self).

Wonderfully recorded, marvellously played, brilliantly composed.

Five slash five.

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Send comments to aSimionescu (BETA) | Report this review (#758608)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had some problems with Heritage and even some with the fantastic Grace for Drowning. I had low expectations for this album. What I can say now for sure is that, one should not decide on this album before spinning it 4 or 5 times, in different moods and even places if possible. Now the question is, is it worth the spins, or your full attention?

This is the duo's approach to psychedelic music, with a lot of complex art influence (the likes of Scott Walker). It's like Mikael Akerfeldt gives Comus, Steven Wilson takes that and adds his signature keyboards, vocals, horror elements and other production qualities. So the product is something I would call Comus' psychedelia without energetic breaks, with complex production, wonderful vocal lines and guitars of Mikael Akerfeldt and classic keyboard skills and vocal harmonies of Steven Wilson.

The approach is minimalistic, the idea is "less is more". Telling more using less notes. That's not something most of the people are used to. There are not much lyrics too. And it's definitely not the type of music when you're in the party mode. But that's not a reason to rate it badly.

I think the people who don't like this album underestimate the intelletual ground this music is based on. This is the music of Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt. Their success in this industry is not the work of chance, but the work of love, determination and hardworking. They ARE aware that the tempo of this album is low, that it's not an energetic album and these are not the catchiest songs they've written. But haven't they done enough of that energetic music with Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and various other projects? This is music that most mainstream people get nothing out of it. Not that it's nothing really unexpected, but mainstream always expect the very same music. That's the problem in my opinion.

So you may want to give it a good chance. It was worth it for my case. It's evil, it's melancholic, it's cinematic, it's psychedelic. It's not the music we hear everyday. Isn't that a quality for good music?

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Send comments to talha (BETA) | Report this review (#759272)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 7/10

An ambitious, bold gathering of experiments assembled by two of the greatest minds of Modern Prog.

Storm Corrosion is a project started in 2010 by legendary musicians Steven Wilson, leader of Porcupine Tree, and Mikael Akerfeldt, leader of Opeth. Their self-titled debut album got released two years after that. In this gap of time, fans of both bands waited for this LP anxiously; but when the album did get released, some ended up being disappointed, others on the other hand were really satisfied, as I was.

What many knew about Storm Corrosion, before the album was released, was that it was going to be, according to the words of the musicians, something the two Progheads had never accomplished before in studio; a tribute to the more obscure bands of golden-aged Progressive Rock. And that is exactly what we get: it's an album of relaxed and calm atmosphere, with a good deal of mellotron, almost no percussion whatsoever, creepy tremolo strings, acoustic guitars, flutes, and keyboards, especially. Some of these instruments shape the music into a somewhat Ambient form, other times, something more like into Prog Folk form. In any way, the music is always calm, with a whole variety of emotions poured into the notes, from fear, to peacefulness.

Each song has a great characteristic to it, and they all remind, in a way, of those old bands of the seventies that didn't gain as much attention as they should have.However, there simply is no specific band or style the project is aiming for. Among the strongest tracks, the single 'Drag Ropes', which also opens the curtains to the show, is the closest thing to Steven Wilson's typical style: it's not as intimate and shockingly different as the other tracks, but it still is a huge, noticeable change, for both the musicians. The track is beautifully layered by various instruments, including mellotron, synths, keys, acoustic guitars and other curiosities, and its flow feels very natural, despite its length. It is with the other songs though where things get really odd: the title track has this amazingly intimate guitar section where Wilson's voice gently contributes to the atmosphere, however, the song gets a bit of a twist when a strange, creepy wall of sound, of what seems to be strings, hypnotizes the listener effectively. After these two songs, the overall tones are much more calm and peaceful, like in the final track 'Ljudet Linnan', sung mostly by Akerfeldt, where keyboards and guitars blend into this warm, cozy aura. Some sparks of sinisterness can still be heard in the dead center of the album, but they are rare and sparse.

The biggest issue I have with Storm Corrosion's debut (the only one issue really, but it's one I simply can't ignore) is its structure and overall flow: it seems that the LP starts in one way, continues in another, and ends in another one again, without there being any sense of roundness or completeness. It's like if a few, mini albums were contained in one album. The songs don't communicate with one another, like an unfriendly neighborhood would do, where nobody says hi to anybody: they simply don't connect.

Besides this, Storm Corrosion is a brave collection of experiments on behalf of this ambitious project, which turned out to be surprisingly successful in my eyes, despite the skepticism I felt for it at first. The songs themselves are memorable, very well executed, and emotional, even though there is not much of a comprehensive structure. This is however a band people should keep an eye on, especially prog fans.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#759998)
Posted Monday, May 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
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

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#760020)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars I have been no big fanboy of eirther Steven Wilson or Mikael Akerfeldt. Occasionally, a Porcupine Tree album gets through to me, and I find that I like Opeth on the few occasions when Akerfeldt isn't growling. I actually love the "Heritage" album. But I had no high hopes for this album.

Was I surprised.

The album is low key, somewhat acoustic, and very enjoyable. Akerfeldt's guitar is light but complex, and Wilson's keyboards accompy them perfectly. In fact, much of the album has a folky feel to it, as if we were hearing Simon & Garfunkel's evil counterparts.

The opening track Drag Ropes is the best of the lot. In many ways it sounds like a continuation of the "Heritage" album. It is dark and lush, with vocals that sound a bit like Gentle Giant, but more like Neil Morse's imitation. But still great.

I find that I just cannot resist playing this album over and over.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#760953)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Strangely addictive...

Storm Corrosion is the third part of a trilogy of albums which also contains Steven Wilson's 'Grace For Drowning' and Opeth's 'Heritage'. The hype which surrounded it was unbelievable, months of teasing from the record label with no real samples, and quotes being bandied about like "instant masterpiece" and "incomparable, a new genre".

This is the second time I have written this review, this time less complimentary. Although I still very much enjoy Storm Corrosion, I have a few problems with it. The style is quite hard to classify but it can be generally split into emotive, minimalistic sections and abrasive, experimental sections. These experimental snapshots remind me of the closing moments from some of the tracks from Opeth's Watershed and are very cool. The problem for me is that they are too sporadic and often provide a singular highlight for a particular song. For example, the juddering cut-out of the title track, the muffled drum fill on Hag and the electronic distortion on Happy. I always look forward to these moments, but often at the expense of the rest of the track. You could argue that a lot of post rock/metal/whatever is composed in a similar vein but it is the stark contract here which can make "everything else" feel like frustrating waffle.

In addition, the more consistent songs are perhaps too consistent, both Drag Ropes and Lock Howl start strongly, but border on monotonous before they reprise. In fact the only song that I love from start to finish is the magnificent Ljudet Innan.

The Verdict: Decent enough but hardly earth-shattering.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#761500)
Posted Friday, June 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A collaboration of two of the most celebrated men in modern progressive music that avoids being a safe album that simply blends their styles together. Instead, Storm Corrosion is a highly inventive and unique album, which is hard to accomplish in this new age of music where experimental music is thriving thanks to the internet. The album is highly minimalistic with scarse use of percussion. It has eerie overtones and a healthy mix of the pleasant and the abstract.

"Drag Ropes" is the 10 minute single released as a very effective video using shadow puppets. The first half of the track relies on symphonic elements where they mesh really well with the enchanting acoustic guitar playing from Mikael. The menacing piano and jazzy percussion build tension as the string instruments get more developed. An abrupt change to a creepy acapella with a highly memorable repeated line "and the truth will now be told on manifold" from Wilson is so brilliant and unique that I can only think of Mozart's Requiem as a possible influence. Heavy choir mellotron and an disturbing, angular bass guitar riff work perfectly with Wilson's repeated chant. This is followed by a very dense melancholic section with heavy use of strings and piano which also features a heart-wrenching electric guitar solo. Earlier themes are brought back as the protagonist who lost his pagan wife to religion burns down the church.

"Storm Corrosion" is another favorite of mine as I can imagine the protagonist sadly walking through the forest during a rainy night. Beautiful flute intro is followed by vulnerable acoustic guitars and crooning. The latter half of the song has an elevated ritualistic-sounding section that gets enveloped by a horrific wall of white noise, only to end with a melancholic sound. I can only imagine the protagonist joining the pagan group from the music video during a ritual and getting spotted by a group with hostile intentions.

"Hag" unfortunately is dragged down by descending lullaby over an extended period of time, hurting the emotional impact of the piece. Once a waltz-like beat is introduced after a brief piano&vocal section, the atmosphere gets dense and the music interesting, with haunting vocalizations and an aggressive scene with distorted percussion. The boring descending lullaby ends the piece. Honestly, the demo version expands the climax and leaves a stronger impression on me.

"Happy" is another track that I don't fully understand. It is a very simple, if haunting, acoustic track with silence in the middle. It ends with some effective dissonance.

"Lock Howl" is a much stronger instrumental piece and somewhat upbeat. The piece builds upon an acoustic guitar rhythm, developing into a quite hypnotic arrangement. A bizarre psychedelic turn hits hard and is one of the more interesting parts of the album.

"Ljudet Innan" begins with Mikael's falsetto which is something many of us listeners didn't expect he was capable of doing. The rest of the piece is mostly instrumental and minimalistic with a strong new age feel on the first half, and a jazzier approach on the second half. Very strong finish to the album.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#763996)
Posted Monday, June 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars First off, what makes it Storm Corrosion? It's not stormy or corrosive. It's nothing much at all.

There is a small sliver of "music" flickering here and there, notably in the first half of Lock Howl - which sounds like some kind of a trailer for The Wall by PF.

Otherwise, much of the remaining material on this 47-minute-long opus feels like a collection of sound effects for a sci-fi horror movie. If there is one thing about Storm Corrosion that produced any impact on me (because the music itself certainly didn't get even close to it), that would be the dark, ominous, brooding mood.

Here is what I think happened:

By 2009-2010 both Wilson and Akerfeldt must have run out of ideas to explore within the framework of PT and Opeth respectively; and they didn't feel like regurgitating their old-but-popular stuff. A change of course would have been like a breath of fresh air for their creative psyches, but they weren't sure yet in which direction to move. So, move they did not, but instead recorded 47 minutes worth of "sounds", slapped on it a title that sounded intriguing at the time, and sold it to a few thousands of reveling fans.

So, if you are looking for something creative and forward-looking, Storm Corrosion can't be of much help.

I calculate that about 1/6 of the album is real music, the rest of it is filler. One star, no more

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#765151)
Posted Tuesday, June 05, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let me start by saying that I love Porcupine Tree, and they are easily one of my favorite bands. Steven Wilson, in my opinion, is a genius. However, I do not stand by everything he does. Frankly, I didn't really enjoy the last Porcupine Tree album, The Incident, or Signify, or their debut, or even his first solo album. This album, however, is truly a progressive album. Forget whatever preconceived notions you may have about this album and get ready for something that cannot even be put into a genre. With hardly any percussion, almost no distorted electric guitars, and not many upbeat parts, this album sounds like nothing I, for one, have ever heard before. I can't even review individual songs because the entire album is very atmospheric, and nothing really stands out. However, even though not much stands out, the atmospheres DO stand out, and while I can't give this album a "masterpiece" label due to the lack of climatic moments, it certainly deserves the title "excellent".

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Send comments to bb1319 (BETA) | Report this review (#765997)
Posted Thursday, June 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The anticipation for this album started to build the minute we heard that Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt were going to make an record together. Over time we would get little comments from Steven about how this recording would be completely different from anything either of them had been a part of in the past music-wise. When they got together to record they talked about Scott Walker albums like "Tilt" and "The Drift" along with Electronic bands like KRAFTWERK and TANGERINE DREAM. They would watch a movie together before they went into the studio from Steven's collection and they were mostly odd and experimental European movies and horror movies. And this album really is like a movie for the mind. They decided right away that they wanted an earthy sound so lots of acoustic guitar, electric piano and mellotron, lots of mellotron. One of Akerfeldt's all-time favourite albums is COMUS' "First Utterance" and that Acid Folk vibe is strong here. Drums took a back seat even though they had one of the best drummers in the world in Gavin Harrison at their disposal. Mostly cymbals can be heard but certainly it's about keeping a beat and little more. Dave Stewart was brought in to arrange the strings on "Lock Howl" while Steven aranged them on "Drag Ropes". The LONDON SESSION ORCHESTRA performed them, even the often out of tune parts that Wilson insisted upon. Steven says doing this album was almost like "retreating back to an organic pagan minimalism."

There are only six tracks and things get started with "Drag Ropes" a haunting and dark piece with Akerfeldt on vocals. He sings in a reserved manner. A brief ray of light as it were 2 1/2 minutes in with some harmonies. Piano a minute later. A GENTLE GIANT-like vocal arrangement 5 minutes in then the mellotron storms in. The cymbals and fast paced vocals sound great but the "Damnation"-like guitar with strings that follow sound even better. Vocals are back before 8 1/2 minutes. "Storm Corrosion" was the one song I loved right from the first listen. Mellotron as acoustic guitar comes in. Reserved vocals (Wilson) join in. So beautiful. Some tasteful electric guitar before 3 minutes. The strings and vocal melodies are gorgeous. Drums and a fuller sound 5 1/2 minutes in. A haunting calm after 6 minutes. Then we get this disturbing and eerie intensity that builds until just after 8 minutes before it turns beautiful again.

"Hag" is bleak with sparse sounds and a dark mood as Wilson sings almost with spoken words. Mellotron and a beat as the guitar also joins in then piano. it kicks in hard before 4 1/2 minutes and check out Harrison ! It settles back a minute later with vocals. "Happy" opens with gentle guitar and reserved vocals (Wilson). It turns haunting when the vocals stop. Vocal melodies before 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals with acoustic guitar return. "Lock Howl" is haunting as sounds build until 3 minutes in then it kicks in with handclaps and mellotron. Groovy stuff. We get drums and piano too. A haunting calm 4 minutes in then it builds again. Great track ! "Ljudet Innan" means "Anciient Music" in Swedish. It opens with 1 1/2 minutes of high pitched vocals then the mellotron floods in. It turns so heavenly after 4 minutes. A change after 5 minutes as tasteful electric guitar comes in. Then reserved vocals before 6 1/2 minutes. Mellotron and guitar after 8 minutes when the vocals stop.

I think it's stretching it a bit to say they've created something new here musically but they have taken each of their different musical influences and created something a little different that has their DNA all over it. They've maybe opened a new musical portal that is surreal, dark, atmospheric, disturbing, haunting and yet beautiful. Akerfeldt mentioned in an interview that listening to this on 5.1 sound blew him away. Hearing things he didn't hear before. This is an amazing headphone album.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#779587)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars We all saw this project coming. We all know that Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt are basically a gay couple...musically of course.

This obvious joining of 2 musical talents and egos has been in the process for a few years now and we all have made judgements about what it'll sound like and what it'll be like. Although Steven & Mike have been warning people not to make assumptions due to the dramatic change in sound for the both of them.

Now the album is very much influenced by Scott Walker. If you have never heard Scott Walker, I strongly advise you do?music will never be the same again.

Now I very much respect the agenda for this album and what these 2 guys were trying to achieve, and they did to an extent. I will happily say that half of the album is incredibly unique and is very much a musical journey for the 2 of these guys. But the rest to me sounds like leftover material from Grace For Drowning.

Now Mikael really is barely on this album. His vocals appear on 2 songs. He does play all the guitar parts, and his guitar playing is great, but I would have liked to have heard more of an equal side to the story from these 2. To me, half of the album is great, and the other half just sounds like left over Steven Wilson songs.

One thing I do admire about this album is how quiet it is. It at times really is an amazing effort, but from what they described I was expecting something really interesting. I recommend Scott Walker for a true eerie and magical journey. Maybe this album as a dessert.

1. Drag Ropes ? An epic opener. You really get the feel of the album from the tone of this song, especially with the intro which is incredibly eerie. Love the use of vocals in the song and the orchestra really adds to the tone of the song. 10/10

2. Storm Corrosion ? A very folky based song with some minalimist accompaniment, and a pretty cool eerie middle section. Love the ending too. 9/10

3. Hag ? A nice eerie song with some pretty cool moments. The laughing in the song does surprise you a bit. 7/10

4. Happy ? I won't lie, this basically is a left over from Grace For Drowning. It's not too bad I guess, but it is a downer on the album. 5/10

5. Lock Howl ? A very Opeth sounding instrumental with some interesting accompaniment. I love the use of percussion and handclaps in the song. 7/10

6. Ljudet Innan ? Ok, I have to admit. The intro to this song is probably the best moment on this album. Mikael's falsetto vocals was an interesting thing to hear, and he pulls it off so well and it just sounds beautiful. The rest is quite a laid back almost ambient meets jazz song. Pretty cool way to tend the album. 9/10

CONCLUSION: At certain points during the album, it really is a musical marvel. The rest of the time, it's just recycled material to me. They said they were gonna do something different?and they did?a bit. I hope that if a sequel comes out, the 2 might make even more of a daring leap into the eerie experimental side.

6.8/10

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#781111)
Posted Monday, July 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is an album that on first listen seemed to be quite a let-down,however for me it's now blossomed after repeated listening into something quite beautiful and enchanting. The material ranges from dark neo-classical impressionistic tone poems, through subtle ambient pulse driven pieces. All very much like the sountrack for an un-named film. Wilson and Akerfeldt collaborate in a unique way, and dare to do what very few artists will in this day and age. Un-commercial. but quite nice and a good listen for a dark rainy day. ( But now the sun is coming out, so I best move on ! ) ***1/2

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Send comments to Progfan1958 (BETA) | Report this review (#808759)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you like the introspective parts of Porcupine Tree or the more laid back Opeth records such as the last one, the chances are high that you might also like the debut release of the finally fruitful collaboration between Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson.

This record has though nothing to do with metal music and can rather be described as dark ambient music. From the beginning on, the band builds up a laid back but still somewhat eerie and even menacing atmosphere. The clean vocals always remain soft, the instrumental parts are mostly acoustic, sound rather ethereal and appear as a mixture of minor folk blends with loads of progressive rock influences from the seventies but there are still some haunting sound effects that keep the tension high. You mostly only hear the calm vocals, an acoustic guitar and some quite dark sound effects.

The band has though something very intriguing to offer in their song structures. Sometimes, the band works on a calm and hypnotizing melody and you suddenly have a change after several minutes into a song and you get drowned into a very apocalyptic atmosphere where you can also hear distorted electric guitars, hevaier drumming and a few pumping bass chords. These suprises happen to be quite efficient and they never last too long as the band always goes back to a calmer and rather peaceful mood. In other tracks, the band plays with wrong expectations. A song starts very calm but at the same time scary and uneasy and you expect a sudden sort of musical explosion, an agressive part, a passage of bleak darkness but this eventually never arrives or only when you expect it the least. Even after several tries of the record, this hypnotizing technique still works perfectly as you can't quite remember what exactly happened at which moment during your last discovery of the release.

This kind of music works best if you put your headphones on and lay down on a couch in a dark room. The overall tone of the record is quite dreamy, floating and progressive. At first try, one might think that the tracks are too slow and that there is not much going on but the more you listen to this stunning record again and again, the more you discover new tiny details and the more you get addicted by this record's unique atmosphere. I would describe the album's vibe as a mixture of bleak, depressive, natural, relaxed and transcendant parts.

The four first songs are stunning and precisely elaborated and you can always discover something new. The closing two tracks fall a little bit off the edge for me even if they aren't that bad. They just sound somewhat like more of the same and don't feel as unique as the first four tracks. They have less changes and some ideas sound quite similar to the first songs in here or to some older Opeth tracks.

In the end, this release here requests quite a lot of time and patience. If you are the kind of guy who usually listens to music while taking the bus, washing the dishes or chatting with friends, then this won't be your kind of record. This release is made for sentimental people who enjoy to pass a couple of calm hours on their own from time to time. Even though the lyrics are neither elaborated nor that intriguing, this release has a grippingly unique atmosphere and should grow on you as time passes by. This band is really big when they are minimalistic, they are really intense when they are most laid back and this kind of contradictoriness gives the album a charming soul. In the future, I would maybe even give this release a higher note as I give right now as there is a lot of potential in this.

Originally published on www.metal-archives.com on September 1st of the year 2012.

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Send comments to kluseba (BETA) | Report this review (#813569)
Posted Saturday, September 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ok Steven nowadays is the most prolific composer in the progressive (or post progressive) panorama. Quantity is the worst enemy of quality? Not always. But often, expecially in collaboration with other artists it's impossible to do the best you can do, when in a year you come out with 3 or 4 different projects and remaster and remix 5 or 6 masterpieces of progmusic while you are also touring for supporting you own project with an important band playing in a lot of cities in the world. In my opinion Steven gives his best combining typical 'templates' of prog with rock riffs. This work with opeth frontman, seem to be lacking of energy and the result is that is too flat and homogeneous (and this is a real surprise to my expectations of a pure rack metal disk - it would be an even worse for my taste) Obviously is a Steve Wilson works and worth the value of our money, but nothing to do with his grace for drawing staff. The starting acts are very interesting and they push to think that is another Steven good work, but the second disk (I listened to the vinyl edition) does not keep its promises and sometimes seems to be also too ambitous and do not reaches the good level of 'drag roses' and the title track. For Steven funs, don't miss it. For prog lovers, spend your money for grace for drawing ... Bargilla62 2012

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Send comments to Bargilla62 (BETA) | Report this review (#820775)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars And now for something completely different...

Together, Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt have crafted something very special indeed, being the most organic sounding album any of the two have done. They've apparently shared the contribution with a 50-50 effort, with both partaking in the song writing and vocals, Wilson in charge of the production and keyboards, and Åkerfeldt playing most of the guitars. This album marks the third installment in the unofficial 70s influenced trilogy with Opeth's Heritage and Steven Wilson's Grace For Drowning.

Storm Corrosion is a mixture of quite a few styles and thus being a hard album to simply label with a genre. If I were to draw a few from the list I'd say it's folk, ambient, experimental, and eclectic prog, all swirled together in a dark yet beautiful, vintage 70s inspired album. There is a minimalist feel to the album and is best heard in a quiet environment so full concentration can be applied to hear every detail. There is percussion but it isn't used frequently. And as it's prog, it requires several listens to fully take in and appreciate.

Drag Ropes starts off the album and immediately presents a dark, quirky atmosphere that would fit in a world that someone like Tim Burton would conjure. The folky minimalism and darkness assumes that there's been a Comus influence, among others. The instrumentation is organic with strings and acoustic guitars giving the song some character. A notable quality of the song is that it differs from the rest of the album and stands out because a lot seems to happen, and it has a strong and strange personality. I would say this is the most 'eclectic' song on the album and the most 'different.' Definitely a strong start to the album and one of the best tracks.

The title track is a gentle, quieter, emotional, and more relaxed song where the acoustic guitar and Wilson's vocals come to the fore. The exception to it's soft beauty occurs when a nightmarish and unsettling wall of sound rises and ends with a series of abrupt stops. This represents the experimental side of the album and it's this kind of thing that makes it special and sparks attention from the listener. While there's beauty to this lengthy song, not too much happens and it appeals as just 'another track' off the album. Although great and necessary to the whole, it's minimalism is what causes the album to detract from being a prog rock masterpiece. The same goes with the next couple of tracks.

Hag is an interesting one. It has a disturbed quality to it, with it's daunting pulsing bass and the eerie mellotron. There is also the inclusion of an unsettling crowd of laughter here and there, and again it's these subtle details that make the album something different. Wilson's vocals are present yet again and fit the quiet and haunting atmosphere nicely. However the most interesting feature of the song is the inclusion of a sinister 'heavy' section with Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison on drums. But this album wants to be different, so the drums' bass and treble have been filtered out. This is a high moment for the album.

Happy is probably the weakest of the songs and offers little distinct qualities. Instrumentally, it's emphasis is acoustic guitars and Wilson's vocals. I initially wished that Åkerfeldt could have showcased more of his vocals at this point, but it's not that big of a deal. Sound effects are used to give it an eerie quality which is a plus. Overall it's nothing special but still a welcome addition to the album as a whole.

Lock Howl is the only instrumental on the album and focuses on a rhythmic build-up of layered instruments to create an intriguing piece of music. Strings and Wilson's weeping electric guitar compliment the acoustic, folky vibe. The dark and quirky sound is brought back with a short change in the middle of the song. A highlight and very awesome indeed. For some reason I couldn't help but feel that this track didn't really seem to 'go anywhere' and could have built upon further. But one comes to accept and move on from these initial personal gripes.

Ljudet Innan is in my opinion the best song on the album. After Åkerfeldt gets to do some more vocals (in falsetto!), the atmosphere is immensely beautiful and entrancing with what sounds like a mellotron and choir being built upon with guitar sounds. While the album as a whole is constructed with either attention-catching amazing moments, or the soft atmospheric moments, this song is a combination of both. I have never been so captivated by either of the artists. After delicate vocal parts and percussion follows, the album closes with a dark yet beautiful section that perfectly concludes the atmospheric trip that is Ljudet Innan.

Storm Corrosion's motto seems to be 'dark yet beautiful' as this is the omnipresent sound to be heard here. The organic quality of the album and minimalist style is a blessing from the two artists whose mission was to create 'something very different from usual'. There is a strong salute to 70s music with the use of the instruments from the time that made the music from that era so organic, such as electric piano and the mellotron. But this is not a full vintage album (as like Opeth's Heritage) and uses modern production to create this album as a breath of fresh air.

While not a 5 star masterpiece, this a very rewarding album. I pray that Mikael Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson get together again.

I recommend this album not to the average Porcupine Tree or Opeth fan, but to open-minded listeners who aren't afraid to encounter something far from the norms of the artist's more commercial appeals.

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Send comments to Quirky Turkey (BETA) | Report this review (#834166)
Posted Sunday, October 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#840773)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Storm Corrosion' - Storm Corrosion (7/10)

I can't think of too many albums that have inspired such anticipation in me. I mean, Wintersun's "Time" had been pretty big on the excitement, but even then, it felt like a remote dream before it actually met a release date this past October. When the collaboration between Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt and Mike Portnoy was introduced years back, it was like a dream come true. Even when Portnoy ducked out, it was still an immensely exciting prospect to hear two of my musical heroes come together in an equal partnership. Now that it's out, it's been getting a pretty mixed reception, and there's no wondering why. Even for fans of Porcupine Tree and Opeth, Storm Corrosion's challenging take on prog is more parts ambient than rock. Although this project's self-titled debut ranks among the most unique things I've heard in 2012, not all of Wilson/Akerfeldt's musical experiments are successful. In any case, it's exciting to hear two of progressive rock's most iconic modern figures combining their distinctive sounds. The result doesn't match up to the sum of its parts as we may have hoped, but "Storm Corrosion" showcases both musicians treading into territory they're not entirely comfortable with, and that makes it an essential listen for fans of either.

From the beginning, Storm Corrosion makes good on their promise that this album will be unlike what either artist had done before. For one, there is almost no presence of a metal or even rock sound. To an extent, "Storm Corrosion" is a progressive rock album that extracts and discards much of the rock rhythms and distortion you might hear even on the classic prog records. Like Van der Graaf Generator, Storm Corrosion largely eschews use of the electric guitar, instead favouring use of keyboards. An atmospheric strings section and subtle acoustic guitar work also play significant roles in Storm Corrosion's sound. Also notable is the conscious scarcity of percussion throughout the album. Although Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison is listed here, there's none of his signature precision and technical flair. Instead, what definitive rhythms that are offered here are extremely minimalistic. Harrison gets a few seconds to spread his wings and assault the kit towards the end of "Hag", but for the most part, Storm Corrosion makes music that upholds texture and timbre above all else.

For those familiar with both Wilson and Akerfeldt's work, it shouldn't take much detective work to figure out who wrote particular ideas. Each musician has a very particular and oft- imitated style, and both sounds are showcased in equal proportion on "Storm Corrosion". Although the string arrangements, melodies and overarching song structures bear the signature of Wilson, Akerfeldt's immediately distinctive acoustic fingerpicking is fresh from the Opeth brewing barrel. Storm Corrosion passes me as a cross between jazz fusion and the dissonance of 20th century neoclassical music. The production and sonic scope of the record is par for Wilson. Like just about everything else he's touched over the past ten years, 'Storm Corrosion' enjoys a vast soundscape that favours higher-end stereos. Although most of the album sticks within a fairly ambient range, the atmosphere is haunting and the arrangement is surprisingly deep. Particularly on the opener 'Drag Ropes' and epic title track, a great part of the joy comes from the textures Wilson and Akerfeldt choose to present the compositions. Unfortunately, although the title track of 'Storm Corrosion' is as beautifully written as anything in Porcupine Tree's catalogue, most of these tracks feel as if they could have used some adhesive. Perhaps it's intrinsic to the style they chose, but some focus and added dynamic could have made the Storm Corrosion project more interesting. As it is, the album's bound to leave a holistic impression, but there are few ideas here that really stand out.

Although I had hoped for a more natural mix of their two styles, Storm Corrosion's style is fresh and even unique. This isn't the ultimate progressive masterpiece that I reckon fans (including myself) were looking forward to, but there's no disappointment here. "Storm Corrosion" is a memorable, haunting ambient journey, taking both Wilson and Akerfeldt down a darker path than either has been before. It's great to accompany these two visionaries as they explore fresh territory with their music, but the mellow, film score-esque style should alienate a fair portion of each musician's fanbase. Storm Corrosion presents more depth and challenge to the sound that the band's ambient frame would suggest, and if you're able to look past the disappointment of its context as an artistic combination of two of progressive music's greatest forces, "Storm Corrosion" makes for a pleasant, albeit heady listen.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#886489)
Posted Wednesday, January 02, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is quite strange, that innovative music as this, from such household names prog, is not even at the top 100 of year 2012. Transcendent, oscillating from minimalist to bizarre, from occultist and ominous to ambient and serene... Steve Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt have prepared mix of their extraordinary talents in a very unique way. Expect unexpected from both actors here, which is quite hard to imagine after they both done so far.

Albums starts with Dark Ropes which is full of grotesque depictions intertwined with bitter-sweet instrumental moments of anticipation which makes your heart pulsating in your throat. Wilson's voice sounds there like an evil witch, while Akerfeldt's is like judge bringing sinister conclusion. Utterly beautiful pastoral beginning of the title track is sensitively and slowly destructed, transformed to the scary dissonant tale, giving us light again with Akerfeldt's typical classical guitar licks. Wilson's psychopathic voice and romantic atmosphere recalling Hours of Wealth from Ghost Reveries end the track. Steady pulse of gloom and foggy perspectives with Wilson's isolated voice and piano of Hag turn into short mess which resembles Opeth's Heritage. Happy, where Wilson leads again, forming anxiety to which the light in the end in the tunnel is injected. Colors of hope implode into the space of grey swamps and taking us out of the maze. Wilson's Insurgentes's coldness meet Opeth's acoustic beauty.

Rush in the dark forest for survival - that is the vision which recalls me amazing instrumental ride Lock Howl. Nervous rhythm created by guitar strings leads the track among rich and wonderful melodic textures. Otherworldly closing piece Ljudet Innan starts with Akerfeldt's colossal high-pitched vocals unheard before. Darkness falls, sky parts away, stars shine, and you are engulfed into space, to the brightness of infinite scale of the Milky way. Guitars sounding like seagulls accompany you on the way. Pure tranquillity, serenity. Theme fluently progresses to a part recalling hangover and burn-out with Wilson handing over the lead voice. Final solo - majestic, but humble in the same time, lifts again heavenly atmosphere. It is one of the most touching moments of Akerfeldt on guitar ever. Nostalgic, sorrowful, but hopeful.

This album foments colourful imagery, so many various feelings. It's a true artistic achievement. Fresher and more emotionally disturbing than both previous efforts of Akerfeldt and Wilson (i.e. Heritage and Grace for Drowning). The top album of the year 2012 for me, outstripping great works such as Echolyn's latest eponymous album, Trevor Rabin's Jacaranda (which isn't even on PA) or Astra's Black Chord.

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Send comments to stewe (BETA) | Report this review (#911774)
Posted Saturday, February 09, 2013 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Storm Corrosion" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by UK/Swedish progressive rock act Storm Corrosion. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in May 2012. Storm Corrosion is project featuring Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree...among others) and Mikael Åkerfelt of Opeth. Two household names on today´s progressive rock and metal scene. They´ve long spoken of creating something together and apparently they found time in their incredibly busy scedules to get together to write and record this album. Well it´s been under way for a while, as the two musicians actually already starting writing material for the album in 2010.

It´s hard to know what to expect when two such prolific musicians and incredibly creative people put their heads together, but after listening to "Storm Corrosion", I think the pieces come together in a way, that leaves no doubt who are behind the project. There´s nothing remotely resembling metal on the album, but Mikael Åkerfelt´s presence and touch are still felt. The music is however closer in style to some of Steven Wilson´s more atmospheric and ambient projects, but with a folky acoustic guitar often popping up. There are few sections with percussion and even fewer with "real" drums (played by Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree). Mellotron and the above mentioned acoustic guitar are the prominent instruments on the album (and other analogue sounding keyboards). And of course vocals, which are predominantly delivered by Steven Wilson.

The sound production is warm, organic and detailed. As professional as you would expect when we´re dealing with these two guys.

The songwriting however is a bit patchy. Sometimes the different sections that are put together to form the tracks work well, but sometimes it does seem a bit forced. Like the two guys have been writing ideas on their own, and only put them together when they met up to record the album. I suspect I´m right at least some of the way. If you take into account under which circumstances the album was probably created, it´s still a really great and nicely atmospheric progressive rock album, definitely worth a listen now an again. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#919045)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars To tell you the truth, I expected much more of this album. Especially when I heard the first track "Drag Ropes", which is by far the best track of the album. After that, all the songs remain practically the same, with quiet playing, drumming nuances, some soft voices by Wilson, guitar figures, some kind-of-Ummagumma noises, etc. Knowing Wilson and Akerfeldt past, I was waiting for an album different to Porcupine Tree and Opeth, something far but ... I think they went too far and did not want to exploit all their potential! If they work together in another album, I hope they make a complete album similar to Drag Ropes.

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Send comments to Memo_anathemo (BETA) | Report this review (#1023225)
Posted Sunday, August 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A fascinating, beautiful, incredibly complex and simultaneously subtle album from two of modern day prog's Founding Fathers. I've had this one spinning for over a year now and still discover nuance and genius gems hidden in the multiple layers of style - you'll hear it all here - ambient, folk, avante-garde. And at the same time, the album also defies description and genre. The first half is more minimalist; the second half jazzier.

I do sense quite a bit of inspiration from one of my favorite albums of all time - Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden; though that doesn't mean in any sense that Wilson and Akerfelt have pulled off anything of imitation. My favorites here are the beautiful album title-inspired "Storm Corrosion" and the closing haunting mini-epic (where we are introduced to Akerfelt's falsetto), "Ljudet Innan".

An open mind and insatiable appetite for aural discovery are absolute required admission for entrance into this unique listening experience - if this album doesn't elicit a myriad of emotional response from you, the listener, then prog is just not for you.

Four solid stars.

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Send comments to Timdano (BETA) | Report this review (#1061521)
Posted Thursday, October 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.3 Stars. The beauty of a distant storm

Storm Corrosion is the debut release where Seven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt contribute equally in one recording. Released over 10 years after the highly acclaimed Blackwater Park (the first time SW contributed to a Opeth album), its surprising how long it would take them to produce a joint effort. However instead of producing some sort of PT/Opeth Prog metal monster they deliberately chose to surprise everyone with a very atmospheric album.

There was a lot of hype around this album (mainly from their record company) with them claiming they had created some sort of new genre of music. I definitely wouldn't go that far, but I would say that the first 4 songs are quite original and fairly difficult to pin down in terms of direct influences. Fortunately the name of the band/album does very well in describing the music. Most of the songs are dark and rich with tension and threat, like that of a distant thunderstorm that could cause some serious damage. But the storm mostly misses you and so all of this suspense never materialises into anything. Corrosion is also an excellent adjective as this music is not for those who want a quick frill. If you give this album the time it deserves it will leave a lasting impression on you.

The album starts with "Drag Ropes" which is definitely one of the highlights of the album. There is a excellent music video of this online which is well worth checking out. If this song isn't your cup of tea, then neither is the rest of the album. The song starts slowly with lots of tense atmosphere and depressing lyrics from Mikael. The lyrics give way to a slow instrumental that focuses on fine details that adds to the overall atmosphere. The mood is suddenly broken with a repetitive vocal harmony from SW and MA and an increase in energy. But the threat dies do and the song moves into a very delicate and moving instrumental (one of my favourite parts of the album). The song finishes in a similar way to how it started to in order to bring about proper closure.

The first 5 min of "Storm Corrosion" are very similar to that of "Deform to Form a Star" from SW's "Grace for Drowning", except it is even more delicate and atmospheric. This is probably the most accessible and easy to enjoy part of the album and anyone who is used to SW's ballad side will know what to expect. The second part however is full to the point of bursting with of eerie sound effects. Its what you would expect in a horror film just before the monster appears and things get gory. However like with Drag Ropes the tension vanishes and the song becomes relatively peaceful again.

"Hag" is another tense song, but unlike the previous two there aren't many beautiful elements added in. This is not to say that this song lacks the fine detail of the other songs, its just that everything in the song is aimed to build dread (e.g. creepy laughter in the background). This is also the only song where the suspense actually turns into something that could be classified as metal. In the middle of the song there are some sharp electric guitars and some frenzied drumming from Gavin Harrison. But this is short lived and the song finishes with more sinister lyrics and atmosphere.

"Happy" is the most depressing song on the album (what would you except from SW and MA!) and it is probably the weakest. It suffers from the strength of the last 3 songs and doesn't make a impression (even after many listens). Its not as atmospheric as Drag Ropes, not as tense as Hag and nowhere near as beautiful as Storm Corrosion. Its a mixture of the last three songs in style but doesn't have a unique selling point.

Up until this point the album was quite original, but "Lock Howl" can be described as a standard King Crimson styled instrumental without the bite. It would fit very nicely into Opeth's Heritage. Its not a bad song, but there is nothing special about it.

"Ljudet Innan" is the only song here that is completely lacking in tension, its just 10 min of Talk Talk inspired peace and tranquillity. The song starts with a falsetto from MA (didn't know he could do that!) and gentle atmosphere. This gives way to several minutes of pulsing ambience which could be used for meditation. A slow and repetitive piano tune appears with SW's vocals showing up and disappearing several times. A relaxing yet engaging instrumental closes the album with distant crying vocals from Wilson. The song may not be original but it is still of a high quality and another highlight.

The 3 longer songs don't disappoint and are 5 star material IMO. Hag is also strong, but tracks 4 and 5 are nothing special. So I'm happy to give this 4 strong stars. This type of music is not for everyone (many a PT and Opeth fan won't like this) and it certainty is not accessible. But if you can get into the dark world SW and MA have created then you shouldn't be disappointed. So watch that Drag Ropes video and decide if this is for you!

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Send comments to LakeGlade12 (BETA) | Report this review (#1077641)
Posted Saturday, November 16, 2013 | Review Permalink

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