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Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion CD (album) cover


Storm Corrosion


Eclectic Prog

3.82 | 493 ratings

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4 stars What do you expect when two super-heroes of progressive rock get together? You can expect something completely different than what you first expected. At that is what you get with the band STORM CORROSION, headed by the combined talents of Mikael ÅKERFELDT from OPETH providing guitar work and Steve WILSON of PORCUPINE TREE, BLACKFIELD, NO-MAN, BASS COMMUNION, and many others, not to mention his amazing solo work, in charge of keyboards and arrangements. Both musicians with their combined work cover quite a variety of styles from Extreme Metal to Electronica and everything in between. However, in both of their careers, they have never ventured into this style of avant-folk which has jazz and symphonic leanings like this project does. Again, with both of their musical resumes, you can expect excellent musicianship and production, and that is what you get.

Upon hearing about this project involving this pairing, many fans were ecstatic. The two musicians have worked together before, but this is the first time they worked so up front on a full collaborative album. STORM CORROSION's debut, self-titled album is the only one released under this projects name to date (2019) and it was released in 2012, so whether there is another on the horizon is still to be seen. However, many fans were not expecting this sound, and since a big majority of those fans come from the metal communities, they were mostly turned off by it. That wasn't the purpose of this collaboration as the musicans were looking for a new outlet for a different style of music.

Those that didn't expect this style of music were disoriented by the more experimental sound, but fans of Wilson know that he often takes you down paths you never expect, and this is the reason why many of his projects don't always see the spillover from other projects, or the people that do usually get disappointed by the different avenues he takes, moving from ambient to dance music with ease. However, this wasn't all just figured out by Wilson because the aritsts have said this was a 50/50 effort, and neither one of them had any real idea how this would all sound when it was finished. Wilson has said that if you make music only to please other people, then you become an entertainer, not an aritst.

This album is mostly all performed by both Steven WILSON and Mikael ÅKERFELDT, except for drums (which are mostly quite sparse) from fellow PORCUPINE TREE percussionist Gavin Harrison, woodwinds from Ben CASTLE, and strings from the LONDON SESSION ORCHESTRA. The album is made up of 6 tracks and has a run time of over 47 minutes.

"Drag Ropes" (9:52) starts off the album with what you can expect. Mikael keeps his vocals clean and the music is fairly sparse, not what you would expect from the beginning. The harmonies and vocal loops are excellent and so is the musicianship, the excellent guitar work by Mikael really holds it all together while Wilson's use of electronics and keyboards add that mysterious edge to the entire track. All of this together with the minimal percussion and lovely strings turn this into a voyage of beauty and texture all aided by piano flourishes and guitar work. It all melds together wonderfully, their sometimes contrasting melodic vocal lines meshing together to create that underlying feeling of unease through it all. Both musicians share the thought that music doesn't have to be loud to be dark and evil, and this music proves that.

"Storm Corrosion" (10:12) begins even sparser than ever with echoing woodwinds which eventually get joined by acoustic guitar. Wilson's vocals are front and center this time, his soft singing bringing more texture to this otherwise ambient beginning. The music is pensive, even when the strings add in their layers, then a soft electric guitar comes in providing even more beauty to this lovely piece. Light percussion adds a bit of tension to the track, which intensifies a bit at the middle of the track, adding soft keys and a dark undertone from Wilson's electronics, and distorted dissonant guitar which remains soft, but very dark from Akerfeldt. Layers slowly build, reminding the listener of Bass Communion for a while, until the contrasting acoustic guitar comes in and the layers glitch out just before vocals begin again and we return to the main melody with strings and woodwinds joining in again, but all the while, remaining mostly minimal.

"Hag" (6:28) continues with the minimal and pensive sound, this time a bit less melodic at first until the hesitant vocals come in, but sounding even more ambient than the previous track. Then layers of synth and guitar come in building slightly in intensity. This track is even darker sounding than the last one, with an obvious minor mode. The pagen folk sound is what remains to the fore on this track, the melody changes a bit, yet it all stays soft and ambient while Wilson sings with only piano, but later, guitar and synth layers build again while a slight jazz edge comes into play. After 4 minutes, the music suddenly become heavy and dark while guitar and piano pump out heavy chords and percussion goes suddenly wild. After a minute, this all calms again and deep piano and woodwinds play together. The ambient and dark melody returns when the vocals come back returning us to the pensive feel of the beginning.

"Happy" (4:53) begins with simple soft guitar and unsettling harmony in the pensive vocals. At two minute, the ambient level is heightened as effects show through, then more soft guitar and far away harmonized singing. The track is soft, dark and delicate, feeling like any distraction will just tear it all apart, even when the soft electric guitar comes in. Some of Wilson's experimental electronic work bring it softly to an end. "Lock Howl" (6:09) starts with a soft drone, then a low pulsing bass is played upon by a soft guitar passage that builds with the addition of soft percussion. Intensity builds with the strings and synths adding layers. Sharp metallic tones play in the background, then the music suddenly goes quiet, and then suddenly erupts in a very dark synth-laden texture with fast percussive sounds, then at minutes, it all quiets down to dissonant synth drones. The churning lower sound returns and keys and guitar play the melody, percussion comes in again bringing it all back to life. This is a nice instrumental with more dark undertones and also lush textures throughout.

The last track is "Ljudet Innan" (10:20). Keys and vocals echo softly as Mikael sings in a higher, almost chanting register that we haven't heard from him much, soft and vulnerable. This ends in almost silence until layers of synths build slowly in volume. This is a taste of beautiful, melodic ambience that endures for a few minutes. Guitar chords chime and echo in the forefront after a while and spacey effects swirl around it all. A soft march-like beat comes from soft drumming while a repeating chord plays, then some nice solo guitar work from Mikael improvises over the ambient layers. At 6 minutes, more vocals come in, now Wilson sounding almost like Jon Anderson as the same minimal music continues in the back ground. More guitar work follows closing off this lovely and ambient piece and ending the album.

So, this wasn't really what most people were expecting, a very quiet and thoughtful album with only a few louder passages, otherwise, it is a very immersive experience that people were not expecting. I think the album is quite beautiful, and I love the avant folk, ambient feeling of it, that retains a feeling of unease underneath most of the tracks, yet just draws you in with its simplistic, yet sometimes complex layers of beauty, dissonance, and quietness. Both artists have done better, but yet this is still an excellent album, totally unexpected, yet beautifully dark and expressive. Definitely, this is an example of two amazing artists who weren't afraid to express themselves in ways that many of their fans weren't expecting, and if people could put behind any expectations or prejudices about their music, I think more people would be appreciative of it.

TCat | 4/5 |


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