Monday, 4 June 2012

Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion

01. Drag Ropes
02. Storm Corrosion
03. Hag
04. Happy
05. Lock Howl
06. Ljudet Innan

Ok, so again, for the uninitiated.  Storm Corrosion is comprised of two of the greatest songwriters and musicians of the last couple of decades, Michael Akerfeldt of Opeth fame, and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame.  These two have been long time friends and have lent to each others works over the years, Steven Wilson producing many Opeth albums and Michael helping Steven with some PT stuff.  Anyways, they decided that finally the two of them would collaborate on a project independent of their bands(other than drummer Gavin Harrison, from Porcupine Tree, who did the drumming on this album).

This album is kind of what I imagine a drug-induced coma to be like, in every positive sense of that statement.  It's dreamy, it's creepy, it's brooding, it's proggy, it's everything I love in a "chill" album.

Right from the get go you know it's going to be something special with the wonderful string harmony and the sirenesque vocals of Akerfeldt that bring you into "Drag Ropes".  The vocal work of both Akerfeldt and Wilson is Grade A in general and Grade A on this album, they fit the atmospheres perfectly.  Akerfeldt's vocals in "Drag Ropes" accent the creepy darkness of the off-tune notes that jar the dream-like atmosphere.  Wilson's vocals provide a relief from the darkness, and when used together with Akerfeldt's create a wonderful harmony.

From the slow creepy progression of "Drag Ropes" we move on to "Storm Corrosion", where Steven Wilson takes sole control of the vocals.  This piece is the perfect example of why I love Steven Wilson's voice and Akerfeldt's acoustic guitar work.  Everything about this song just lends to the image of sitting at a window in a dark room and watching the raindrops roll down the glass with the soft roll of thunder in the background.  (In fact this image could almost apply to the album as a whole, but especially on this track).  I've listened to this album probably 30 times since I got it and this song never fails to give me a shiver at some point in the listen through.

"Hag" continues with an almost heart-beat like bass rhythm that continues throughout the piece, pacing it like a steam-engine that just keeps on rolling, eventually hitting an aural hill of some of the only distorted guitar parts on this album.  Over the hill it continues, with flutes and the bass line, rolling on and on.  While not the most interesting track, it's still worth a listen, and keeps the album moving through it's midway point.
The least aptly named track, "Happy", is one of the more intriguing.  The vibe on this track is far from "Happy", with a very eerie harmony of Steven Wilson's vocals and what I think are Akerfeldt's falsetto vocals.  There is also a very discordant  kind of break, that leads into the main body of the song, which consists of more of Akerfeldt's beautiful acoustic guitar work and the meandering vocals of Wilson, intertwined with repeateded appearances of the eerie harmony from the beginning.  This track is beautiful, but disturbing, ending with some very odd industrial noises that kind of make you feel like you're staring uncomfortably long into the eyes of a mannequin, almost expecting it to blink.

"Lock Howl" may be my favourite song on the album, if not it's a close second to "Drag Ropes", I can't decide.  The track again begins with a kind of chugging acoustic guitar line which flows throughout the entire song.  There's more of the same wonderful vocals and guitar work here as in the rest of the album, but what makes it stand out happens about halfway through the track.  We encounter a section with a clapping rhythm and a guitar/flute section that is very reminiscent of moments on Opeth's "Ghost Reveries" album, which I also love.  The use of chimes and multiple layers of acoustic guitar on this track is just wonderful, and the flutes add a wonderful air of mystery to the whole thing.

"Ljudet Innan" is a kind of dissapointing end to the album.  I'm not going to say it's bad, but it could be better.  After all the wonderful work that went into tracks like "Drag Ropes" and "Lock Howl" it feels like they kind of just shit the bed on the outro and said "I dunno, we need another track, so let's just have Michael do some awkward falsetto and then kind of let this boring rhythm meander for ten minutes aimlessly to end it off?"  It does kind of have a bit of a Pink Floydy spacey vibe which some people could appreciate, but it just seems to go on forever and ever and does nothing interesting in the ten minutes it takes to end.

So, to sum up, I loved this album in (almost) it's entirety.  I've had it on repeat the entire evening and have no plans of turning it off anytime soon.  If you love Akerfeldt's softer work or really any of Steven Wilson's work you'll love "Storm Corrosion".  In terms of a rating, I'll give it 5/6, because that's how many tracks I loved off of this album.


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