Storm Corrosion is the collaboration between no-man / Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth.
Their self-titled album is released on Roadrunner, and has been described as being part of a trilogy (Opeth’s Heritage and Wilson’s Grace for Drowning being the other two albums).
Stripped of the metal flavouring of some of the duo’s work in their main bands over recent years, Storm Corrosion is a natural progression from both Heritage and Grace for Drowning.
The heavy guitars may not be in evidence, but the music remains dark, atmospheric and at times almost sounds like the soundtrack to a twisted, avant-garde European film that’s yet to be made.
Opener Drag Ropes has hints of the minimalism of no-man’s together we’re stranger album in the end section (especially with the light-touch percussion), and features some delicious string arrangements by Dave Stewart. The vocals are shared between Åkerfeldt and Wilson, with Åkerfeldt taking the lead for most of the song.
“I was immortal but I am your friend
To stay and be beside you”
The album’s title track takes it’s rhythm from the backing of gentle rain and distant thunder, and features Wilson on lead vocals. It’s a song of two halves – the gentle, mostly acoustic opening section soon mutates into a twisted, clattering diversion, before the strings and guitar return for the end of the song.
“Someone is calling her shorewards”
Elements of the real world seep into some of the songs – the weather in the title track, laughter in Hag, and on several occasions, you can hear the musician’s react to their performance, which displays a real sense of spontaneity in these recordings.
Hag is a mellotron and piano heavy piece, and features some off-kilter drums from Gavin Harrison, and a nagging bass-line.
Happy is the albums shortest track, and lyrically, doesn’t live up to it’s name! Like most of the tracks on the album, Happy starts off fairly serene, lulling you into a false sense of security, before disturbing strings usher in a darker section.
As you would expect from a Wilson / Åkerfeldt collaboration, the production and mix is immaculate. Mastered at a sympathetic level, highs and lows appear organic and are given space to breathe and hit you on an emotional level, which does not really happen with the current trend for brickwall, in your face mastering.
Lock Howl is an instrumental track, with one of the guitar riffs reminding me of a late 60s Pretty Things track, that I can’t quite put my finger on. Give me time, I’ll identify it!
Lock Howl shifts and changes several times during it’s 6 minute stay, sometimes exuding a middle-Eastern flavour and again making use of a poweful, emotive string arrangement.
The final (and longest) track on the album is Ljudet Innan, featuring a fine falsetto lead vocal from Åkerfeld in the first section. After a few listens (the CD only arrived from Burning Shed today), this is shaping up to be my personal favourite track on the album. Its a classic album closer, and the middle section (with some fine guitar-work from Åkerfeldt) lifts your mood after the much darker tracks that came before.
The title in English is “ancient music” which fits the song perfectly. The mid-section’s spacey, choral synths give way to a bluesey end section, with truenorth (no-man) influenced scattering percussion, before passing the lead vocal baton back to Wilson. Both Åkerfeld and Wilson’s reverb-heavy vocals on this track tread new ground, displaying an almost soulful feel.
Whilst I think Storm Corrosion will appeal to fans of later Opeth and Porcupine Tree, the album thankfully has its own unique identity. An Opeth / Porcupine Tree hybrid would have been a safe option, and probably a disappointment. This multi-layered, pastoral flavoured debut release from Storm Corrosion offers hope for further albums from the duo, and reveals new depths on repeated listens.
Buy Storm Corrosion (Special Edition) on Amazon
Buy Storm Corrosion (CD) on Amazon
Visit the Storm Corrosion website