[7.5/10] Having worked on several projects together throughout the years, it was only inevitable that Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Porcupine Tree/Blackfield frontman Steven Wilson would eventually collaborate on something outside of their respective bands. And sure enough, in March 2010, the pair officially announced their intensions to make an album under the name of Storm Corrosion, with their self-titled debut finally seeing the light of day in 2012.
Both Åkerfeldt and Wilson made quite clear that Storm Corrosion was not going to sound like a progressive metal act, but was in fact going to be something entirely different from anything the pair had produced throughout their musical careers. In a lot of ways, the best way to describe Storm Corrosion’s sound and direction is a mix of both Opeth and Wilson’s most recent releases, but with a greater experimental and avant-garde edge.
Opener “Drag Ropes” is by far the most immediate track here, with its cinematic mix of strings and sparse piano, and Åkerfeldt’s soft vocals adding melody. A couple of minutes in, and the atmosphere changes into something dark and twisted, with the manipulated keyboard sounds and the dual vocalists intertwined arrangements adding a very bizarre vibe. The title track is another highlight with Åkerfeldt’s gentle acoustic guitar work and Wilson’s quiet vocals veering more toward folk territory at the song’s onset. Åkerfeldt’s sparse solo midway through is a wonderful addition, while the subtle strings and minimalist percussion only enhance the folk edge. “Hag” initially starts out as a continuation of the former track, but eventually evolves into something a little darker, before erupting with a distorted drum solo (courtesy of Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison) and a sinister mix of piano, keyboards and guitars (which brings to mind Opeth’s “The Grand Conjuration”).
“Happy” on the other hand, is a track that doesn’t quite work. Åkerfeldt’s guitar work is solid, and the sonic manipulations of sound towards the tail end of the track are effective, but essentially the pair is tacked onto a song that’s too meandering and short of fully developed ideas and direction. The instrumental “Lock Howl” is a definite standout, with the band indulging more in progressive sounds here than on any other track on the album. The use of acoustic guitars throughout allows a clarity that wouldn’t otherwise exist with electrics, while the fade in/fade out of strings, odd keyboard effects, hand claps and piano add to the mesmerising magnificence of the cinematic-like piece. Closer “Ljudet Innan” (Swedish for “Sound Before”), which opens up with a strangely soulful and blues like performance from Åkerfeldt on vocals (in other words – In a way you’ve never heard him sing before!), before trailing out with a lengthy and soothing mix of dreamy keyboards, gentle guitar notes and Wilson’s near-whispered vocals.
Overall, Storm Corrosion has produced an album that will definitely divide fans. Those who enjoyed the more recent efforts from the pair will definitely find plenty to sink their teeth into. It’s experimental, challenging and avant-garde, but an album well worth taking the time to fully comprehend and appreciate. But those expecting something more progressive or metallic (or even along the lines of the first single “Drag Ropes”) will be sorely disappointed with this collaborative effort.
Storm Corrosion official site