Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion

I can’t think of too many albums that have inspired such anticipation in me. I mean, Wintersun’s “Time” had been pretty big on the excitement, but even then, it felt like a remote dream before it actually met a release date this past October. When the collaboration between Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt and Mike Portnoy was introduced years back, it was like a dream come true. Even when Portnoy ducked out, it was still an immensely exciting prospect to hear two of my musical heroes come together in an equal partnership. Now that it’s out, it’s been getting a pretty mixed reception, and there’s no wondering why. Even for fans of Porcupine Tree and Opeth, Storm Corrosion’s challenging take on prog is more parts ambient than rock. Although this project’s self-titled debut ranks among the most unique things I’ve heard in 2012, not all of Wilson/Akerfeldt’s musical experiments are successful. In any case, it’s exciting to hear two of progressive rock’s most iconic modern figures combining their distinctive sounds. The result doesn’t match up to the sum of its parts as we may have hoped, but “Storm Corrosion” showcases both musicians treading into territory they’re not entirely comfortable with, and that makes it an essential listen for fans of either.

From the beginning, Storm Corrosion makes good on their promise that this album will be unlike what either artist had done before. For one, there is almost no presence of a metal or even rock sound. To an extent, “Storm Corrosion” is a progressive rock album that extracts and discards much of the rock rhythms and distortion you might hear even on the classic prog records. Like Van der Graaf Generator, Storm Corrosion largely eschews use of the electric guitar, instead favouring use of keyboards. An atmospheric strings section and subtle acoustic guitar work also play significant roles in Storm Corrosion’s sound. Also notable is the conscious scarcity of percussion throughout the album. Although Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison is listed here, there’s none of his signature precision and technical flair. Instead, what definitive rhythms that are offered here are extremely minimalistic. Harrison gets a few seconds to spread his wings and assault the kit towards the end of “Hag”, but for the most part, Storm Corrosion makes music that upholds texture and timbre above all else.

For those familiar with both Wilson and Akerfeldt’s work, it shouldn’t take much detective work to figure out who wrote particular ideas. Each musician has a very particular and oft- imitated style, and both sounds are showcased in equal proportion on “Storm Corrosion”. Although the string arrangements, melodies and overarching song structures bear the signature of Wilson, Akerfeldt’s immediately distinctive acoustic fingerpicking is fresh from the Opeth brewing barrel. Storm Corrosion passes me as a cross between jazz fusion and the dissonance of 20th century neoclassical music. The production and sonic scope of the record is par for Wilson. Like just about everything else he’s touched over the past ten years, ‘Storm Corrosion’ enjoys a vast soundscape that favours higher-end stereos. Although most of the album sticks within a fairly ambient range, the atmosphere is haunting and the arrangement is surprisingly deep. Particularly on the opener ‘Drag Ropes’ and epic title track, a great part of the joy comes from the textures Wilson and Akerfeldt choose to present the compositions. Unfortunately, although the title track of ‘Storm Corrosion’ is as beautifully written as anything in Porcupine Tree’s catalogue, most of these tracks feel as if they could have used some adhesive. Perhaps it’s intrinsic to the style they chose, but some focus and added dynamic could have made the Storm Corrosion project more interesting. As it is, the album’s bound to leave a holistic impression, but there are few ideas here that really stand out.

Although I had hoped for a more natural mix of their two styles, Storm Corrosion’s style is fresh and even unique. This isn’t the ultimate progressive masterpiece that I reckon fans (including myself) were looking forward to, but there’s no disappointment here. “Storm Corrosion” is a memorable, haunting ambient journey, taking both Wilson and Akerfeldt down a darker path than either has been before. It’s great to accompany these two visionaries as they explore fresh territory with their music, but the mellow, film score-esque style should alienate a fair portion of each musician’s fanbase. Storm Corrosion presents more depth and challenge to the sound that the band’s ambient frame would suggest, and if you’re able to look past the disappointment of its context as an artistic combination of two of progressive music’s greatest forces, “Storm Corrosion” makes for a pleasant, albeit heady listen.


1. Drag Ropes (9:52)
2. Storm Corrosion (10:12)
3. Hag (6:28)
4. Happy (4:53)
5. Lock Howl (6:09)
6. Ljudet Innan (10:20)


* Mikael Åkerfeldt – guitars and vocals
* Steven Wilson – keyboards and vocals
* Gavin Harrison – drums
* Ben Castle – woodwinds

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: