07 May 2012
by Tom Dare
What happens when two of the most inspired, talented, and generally superb musicians in progressive metal get together? What have Opeth genius, Mikael Åkerfeldt, and Porcupine Tree maestro Steven Wilson birthed when mixing their mighty musical chromosomes? I’ll save you the piss-poor attempts at suspense: it’s one of the most brilliant records you’ll hear all year. That’s not the surprising bit. What you couldn’t predict is how strikingly different Storm Corrosion is.
It’s an odd little contradiction that this collaboration audibly couldn’t have come from any other pair of musicians, yet doesn’t sound anything like the bands in which they made their name. In fact, within the realms of modern prog, it’s difficult to imagine a record that sounds less like either Opeth or Porcupine Tree – it’s gentle, quite delicate and the progression is subtle, slowly metamorphosing from one passage to the next in ways contrary to what you might expect. While the weight of the whole thing is frequently sufficient to be described as “heavy”, that heaviness is unconventionally delivered – it’s an atmospheric effect, not the production of distortion and crushing guitars – of which there are essentially none.
Instead, you have a mixture of the more contemplative ends of the two members’ trademarks: proggy guitar rhythms and soulful leads (Åkerfeldt’s are the most obvious, and are the closest thing to actually sounding like either chap’s day job you’ll notice), vocals that switch between haunting lilt, wistful crooning and mood shifts that make sense in spite of how unpredictable they may be. On top of all of this, you have a mix of sounds that articulate those moods superbly – and are joyfully peculiar and frequently dark in the most profoundly affecting way.
The title track is a perfect example. Subtle strings enhance the wistful twinkling acoustic guitar while Wilson sings soulfully above, making a sombre yet calming atmosphere that you can almost float in. Later on, as the mood becomes more oppressive, the strings become more discordant, to the point it’s essentially noise. And a moment of peace, beauty and calm becomes frightening and dark without needing to be dramatic.
Watch the video to ‘Drag Ropes’ by Storm Corrosion here:
The entire album is a mixture of staggering beauty, soft fear and odd noise, delivered in the most subtle of fashions, and able to take you through a quite terrifying gamut of emotions without ever needing to enter the territories we’re more familiar with from these musicians. Storm Corrosion is a masterpiece in its own right, without reservation or caveat. It’s layered and textured with a mind-boggling level of skill, and makes you need to stiffen your quavering bottom lip and dab your damp eye more often than you’ll ever admit in public.
It’s not Opeth. It’s not Porcupine Tree. It’s Storm Corrosion. And it’s wonderful.
Sounds Like: beauty, terror, genius
Standout tracks: The ones on the album. All of them.