Saturday, 26 May 2012

Review: Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion

 A musical collaboration between Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt and Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson is the kind of collaboration that everyone should have seen coming from miles off but didn't. Both figures happen to be frontman of major modern progressive rock groups and have shared much history in making music together with Wilson producing three Opeth albums, and yet the pair managed to be relatively quiet about it. Of course, in terms of how major both figures are, Åkerfeldt has become much more widely recognised than Wilson, due to Opeth's high regard in the world of modern mainstream metal, which has been very prominent until recent times, after last year's Heritage dropped the death metal element of Opeth's music leaving many pure metalheads asking "What's the point?" And as a way to divert himself from the metalheads even more,  Åkerfeldt and Wilson have now released their six track collection of collaborative efforts, which with their immense creativity and atmospheric nature, show that both figures look to be moving away from the positions in  the metal scene to a greater extent than ever.

 And so, as the pair join together under the moniker of Storm Corrosion, they release a collection of music that doesn't celebrate their positions in the world of metal, or even in the world of prog rock. Their self-titled release presents listeners to a much softer, more delicate array of music, resembling a fraction of their regular work. But it is a fraction that has evolved, matured and under it's display of delicacy, lie hidden claws through their delivery.
 With it's tense orchestral opening, Drag Ropes effectively sets the overall tone of the album, as Åkerfeldt's smooth purr of a vocal delivery put alongside the billowing display of intense backdrops, sets listeners into a state of uncertainty, where no sense of assurance and idea of what could happen next can be maintained. And as  Åkerfeldt croons on, he proves that he doesn't have to use death growls to shock listeners.
 Whether the atmospheric backdrops provided by Wilson across the album have the orchestral grandeur of Drag Ropes, the ambient serenity of Hag or the rich textured tones of Lock Howl, they always have an overall characteristic that manages to be dark and eerie, which is guaranteed listeners to be on the edge of their seat listening, without any sort of idea of what's going to happen next.
 Of course it's being eerie which is the main priority with Storm Corrosion, while Heritage saw Opeth begin to open up on warmer, more positive territory in their music, the music of Storm Corrosion sees Åkerfeldt and Wilson being plunged straight back into the darkness. And the album manages to be one of those albums where it's often minor details that manage to really stand out and be remembered as so haunting. Moments like the chilling harmonies displayed by the pair on Happy, the guitar picking of the album's title track, where even with the simplest of strumming,  Åkerfeldt makes his guitar scream like a banshee. Even the parts of Hag where full-on power through playing hard riffs do persist are weighed down by an atmospheric force, with the doom-laden intensity that emerges through Mikael's distorted solos. The exception to this does come in the unleashed beauty of the album's closer Ljudet Innan.
 Though it's a fairly brief musical affair between Åkerfeldt and Wilson on Storm Corrosion, it's one that leaves a massive impact. Through their ability to place grace and darkness parallel to each other through the arrangement of rich acoustic and orchestral performances into chilling and bleak soundscapes is one that hits listeners effortlessly hard in spite of the frequent gentleness. But, with the pair's desire to create something that was both mellow and disturbing, on this debut and for all we know, only collaborative album, they've achieved it in such away that Åkerfeldt may never return to making metal music ever again. One listen to Storm Corrosion and listeners are immersed within a beautiful abyss.

 Storm Corrosion's Storm Corrosion is out now via Roadrunner.

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