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Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (Album Review)

Sunday, 29 April 2012 Written by Ben Bland
Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (Album Review)

The difficult thing about long awaited collaborations is that there is that the weight of expectation is always likely to render anything but the most spectacular of end products irrelevant to the ears of many listeners. That is, of course, assuming that the two high profile collaborators have worked together to produce something of the style expected. 'Storm Corrosion', whilst it may come as no surprise to seasoned followers of its two protagonists, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree / No-Man / Solo) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), to more casual fans of the pair this record is going to be a tremendous disappointment.

ImageIt is ironic that fans of these two musicians, both of whom have made their name for their involvement in the world of progressive music, will no doubt come in for stick from some ‘fans’ for an album such as this as a result of its lack of traditional instrumentation and songwriting.

The six tracks that make up this album are, mostly, sprawling epics that push the ten minute barrier with the ease and grace of classical symphonies and without reliance on cranked up guitar riffs. Åkerfeldt handles most of the, subdued, guitar parts whilst Wilson focuses on the keyboards and, most of the time, nobody brings any percussion into play. There are some beautiful melodies on this album, and also what should be regarded as Åkerfeldt’s finest vocal performance to date, but there is nothing that is conventionally ‘rock’ music at all. The focus on orchestration and unusual instrumentation creates a sound more akin to Wilson’s most experimental solo works under his own name or as Bass Communion, than it does to Porcupine Tree or Opeth.

Frankly the lack of ‘rock’ is no bad thing at all. Wilson released arguably his finest creative statement to date last year with 'Grace for Drowning' and Åkerfeldt decided to push the Opeth moniker further from its metal roots than ever before with 'Heritage'. Both records were dripping in the influence of classic prog rock and as such, although they were by no means typical rock albums, were full of instrumental touches associated with the genre. By contrast 'Storm Corrosion' is all the stronger for being far from that. It isn’t really validly comparable to anything most fans of either artist will be familiar with but signals that they are both still worthy of being highly regarded as creative forces.

This is experimental music at its very best and, although most listeners are more likely to be puzzled than entertained by it, 'Storm Corrosion' is clearly one of the finest records that 2012 will bring.

'Storm Corrosion' is out on 7th May via Roadrunner.

Steven Wilson’s 'Grace for Drowning' tour rolls into London’s Shepherds Bush Empire on 15th May.

Steven Wilson’s 'Grace for Drowning' is out now via K-Scope and Opeth’s 'Heritage' is out now via Roadrunner.

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