Album Review: Storm Corrosion

Since becoming BFFs back when Porcupine Tree’s Stephan Wilson jumped on board to produce Opeth’s breakthrough record Blackwater Park there has been constant talk of him and Mikael Åkerfeldt consummating their friendship with a collaboration record.  Well after over 10 years of waiting and speculation that highly desired meeting of minds has come to form by way of Storm Corrosion.  There has been much deliberation as to what this union would end up sounding like, but one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that it would be creative and unique.  Completing a trifecta of records, this record fits right in with Opeth and Steven Wilson latest offerings, Heritage and Grace for Drowning (both of which I thought were superb records).  But if you go into the record expecting it to sound like something similar if you were to mash the 2 together, disappointment will ensue.  Storm Corrosion is a very mellow, haunting, and atmospheric album that sounds exactly like what the 2 artist are known for and at the same time completely different.

Right from the start “Drag Ropes” goes right to work creating a very dark and haunting ambiance as eerie synthesizer tones, cellos, and Mikael’s chilling clean singing voice personify the dark and tormented lyrics.  Using minimal percussion tension, fear, and wonder increase as the track picks up pace as ghostly flutes and rolling bass lines shape the mood of the song.  Sorrowful guitar sections and chilling Gothic piano interjections layer on the ethereal atmosphere and holds the listener in anticipation for an eventual climax, which they deliver on, just not in a way that you would expect making their first big statement that this is a very unconventional album.  Instead of a big crescendo of all the layers that they worked into the song up until the climax point, a different route is taken where everything is stripped back letting the simplicity that the song started out with rear its teeth again, and through the contrast, the feel and release so much more unsettling.

It’s work like this that really stands out on the record.  The control, the ability to hold back, keep the monster in the dark so the viewer creates a much scarier image of what the beast really is.  But to use the term ‘monster’ may be a bit misleading.  Where a monster you may tend to think of something brutish and physical, this album more represents a ghost, a tortured spirit, not looking to cause physical harm, but more enchant you and tell the story of its anguished past.  As it enchants you with lull music it emits musical images that often times brought images of a dark Gothic castle garden soaked in moisture after a heavy rain drenching in moonlight.  There is uncountable amounts of beauty in a scene such as that, but there is also something haunting and terrifying in there too.

While the music is a departure from what these two musicians normally produce there are plenty of hints of their styles.  “Storm Corrosion” features acoustic guitars from Mikael that reminisce the softer moments of tracks like “Hessian Peel” off of Watershed (in fact, a lot of his playing is quite reminiscent of that album mood speaking).  “Hag” and “Happy” bring in lots of the tone and atmosphere of Steven’s solo work in particular recreating the harrowing feel of tracks like “Track One” and “Raider Prelude”/”Raider II” off of Grace for Drowning.  While their particular styles shine through, when combined something wholly unique is born separating it from their outside bands.  And when they both vocalize in tandem it is one of the most beautifully unnerving sounds in music.  Both of their voices are whispery and ethereal which really fit the mood of the album and there is plenty of contrast there that really warrants the often duos and solo spots on the record.

I feel slightly ignorant in the fact that there are no bands or artists other than the album artists themselves I can name drop to draw comparison to on the sound and style of Storm Corrosion (and I find myself decently versed in progressive music).  I’m certain they have plenty of inspiration for the record given how deeply stocked in progressive music both musicians are.  Everything I’ve heard on the L.P. is wildly unique and unlike anything I’ve heard before.  It’s highly progressive as far as song structure and ambition goes, but that should not be your main reason for looking into the album.  Storm Corrosion enchanted me from front to back and truly shows the wild talent of both its starts.  If you want to hear something wildly imaginative and that paints cohesive yet abstract pictures than this is something you should enjoy wholeheartedly.  It’s slow moving and jam-packed with lots to digest and cannot be fully appreciated in a single sitting.  When you take in the album enough you’ll be fully rewarded with a nuanced and complex music that will challenge you with every single note.  In my book, it lives up to the long wait and the hype and I’d love to hear these two work together more in the future.

About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Very nice review, thank you!

  2. That’s a great review. So, this album is finally here. I would probably have a hard time describing the album in words, but for some reason it kind of sounds like I expected it to. I had a feeling they would take their two most recent albums and kind of go from there, I had no expectations that it would sound anything like Grace For Drowning or Heritage.

    I like how you describe the album has holding back and not letting the monster show itself. This album is very abstract and I think it’s pretty cool to do something you want to do. I think I will have this album playing next time someone comes into my office…

  3. I haven’t picked up a copy of this yet despite really likng the kind of stuff Wilson and Akerfeldt have been up to of late. I’ve checked out a few tracks online – what I’ve heard really reminds me more of ‘Heritage’ than ‘Grace…’ – and I sympathise with your difficulty in knowing what to compare it to. Both Wilson and Akerfeldt cite latter-day Scott Walker amongst their inspirations, however. If you’re not familiar, check these out (definite parallels in terms of tone and song structure imo)

  1. Pingback: The [A]LA[n] Wilson’s Project « musicbugsandgender

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