Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (2012)


The long awaited collaboration between a pair of musical geniuses has finally come to fruition. When the news hit that Opeth mainman Mikael Akerfeldt and Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson were set to record an album together (originally including Mike Portnoy), the metal world salivated, speculating about the sound and scope of such an endeavor. Performing under the moniker of Storm Corrosion, the dynamic duo of progressive music are ready to put the questions to an end. With the release of their self titled debut, Akerfeldt and Wilson hold nothing back.

Serving as the first single from the album, "Dragging Ropes" is a drawn out affair that fades in with strings and synths. With a more ambient soundscape than either of their main bands would project, it allows for a not too drastic departure from those acts. While each  has his own vocal style and delivery, Wilson and Akefeldt come together seamlessly. The track barely gets to a simmer in its ten minute run time, and this is in the best way possible. Vocal cannons, layered guitars, keyboards, and light percussion inhabit the entire piece, building into a beautiful frenzy of activity. It all plays out in a light, but strangely eerie way. The title track follows, with a bounty of flutes and acoustic guitars in tow. Wilson lays down his delicate vocal melody, as only he can. The winding, fluttering guitar parts become entwined in one another, forming a perfect harmony of smooth sound. The light tapping of drums is minimal, but effective. As the track descends into madness, a crying, whining air raid siren of mixed noise, a lone guitar cuts through to bring you back to the main path. Wilson's vocals return, restoring peace and calm as the track floats to a close.

A pulsing bass line leads "Hag," which, in the early stages, is about as minimalist as one could expect from a duo this dynamic. Wilson provides the vocals again, accompanied shortly after by sweet piano keys. You may find yourself falling into a short, psychedelic trance as a result of the haunting synths to come next. Akerfeldt's signature guitar playing comes through nicely, with a short burst of distorted riffs and rattling drums. Don't be fooled, this isn't a descent into death metal of any sort, but rather an outburst of avant experimentation. Clocking in under five minutes, "Happy" is easily the shortest track on the album. With little more than acoustic guitars and electronic noise coming in and out over, there isn't much to hang your hat on. Wilson's voice fits perfectly in all the airy instrumentation, though with an approach as stripped down as this one, it would be nearly impossible not to mesh well. The piece seems somewhat incomplete, as if one elements never made it to the final cut.

Finally giving a dose of structured tempo, "Lock Owl" begins with an acoustic piece that may elicit a nod of approval. Coming together as a true band piece, all of the role players are involved. From a low, rumbling bass line, to the synthesizers that have occupied many an Opeth tune, to a host of sound effects and electronic additions, every singular element forms a mass of sound. The tingling of a bell welcomes the second half, a more evil sounding affair... accompanied by a basic clap chorus. It seems a strange addition, truthfully. Things fall apart, and build up again from the beginning. As the album closes, "Ljudet Innan" is the final offering to be displayed. After a short vocal passage, the mjusic returns to what amounts to nothingness. Light guitars and keys are all you get, building and fading over and over. Light chorus vocals peak through but not enough to make a full impact. Even the short bursts from Wilson fail to resonate for long. Light kick/cymbal/snare combos seem distant. And after ten minutes, everything just fades away.

This album has been years in the making, waiting for a synchronized break in their schedules to finally piece this together. So, after sitting through this six track, 47 minute opus, you almost have to wonder what took so long. Yes, the music is beautifully crafted, and richly organic, something that jazz combos can boast of day in and day out. It must have been a smooth writing process, just letting each instrument flow from within, piling one on top of another. And while it would be unfair to expect "The Incident 2" or "Heritage, Too," it seems as though combining two men of such talent and creativity would result in a more involved piece of music. But while its members may be older, Storm Corrosion is young. And, hopefully, this album is only the beginning.

7/10

Official Site - http://www.stormcorrosion.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Storm-Corrosion/187831801312141?ref=ts