By Raymond Westland
Porcupine Tree mastermind Steve Wilson and Opeth mainman Mikael Åkerfeldt are two of the most influential figureheads in nowadays progressive rock and metal scenes. Put those two together in a single room working on new project and within the blink of an eye a hype is born. The buzz surrounding the first Storm Corrosion is simply astonishing, so let’s see whether all the (excess) attention is justified.
Storm Corrosion stems from the same state of mind that spawned Opeth’s Heritage album and Grace For Drowning by Steve Wilson. All three records have the same experimental edge, while retaining a certain nostalgic longing for vintage seventies progressive rock. Having said that, Storm Corrosion is firmly rooted in sixties and seventies psychedelic rock, akin to the early Pink Floyd material and the sonic ambient experiments by Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and Brian Eno. There’s one major catch though, the material on Storm Corrosion is much more focussed and it’s not about being experimental for the sheer sake of being experimental, much unlike many of the psychedelic and ambient frolics by Fripp and Pink Floyd.
So is Storm Corrosion the alpha and omega of progressive and ambient rock as many believe it to be? Call me a heretic, but I’m inclined to say no. Objectively speaking it is as solid as they come. Tracks like “Drag Ropes”, “Hag”, “Lock Howl” and “Ludjet Innan” are adventurous in scope and the execution by Wilson and Åkerfeldt is simply flawless. Their respective voices and composing styles complement each other very well. For some reason ST doesn’t give me the same thrill as Grace For Drowning, Porcupine Tree’s Deadwing and Fear For A Blank Planet or Opeth’s Blackwater Park and Ghost Reveries. Perhaps it’s the lack of some genuine heavy parts or the absence of some real drums, it’s really hard to really point out where it hurts.I just have the distinct feeling something is missing on the Storm Corrosion album.
To me Storm Corrosion is first and foremost a record on which two friends have a brilliant time together composing music that’s very different from what they normally do with their respective main bands. It’s an interesting and often very enjoyable music trip, but as with Blackfield, No-Man and Bass Communion I don’t consider S/T as anything truly stunning or essential for that matter. The Storm Corrosion album certainly has its moments, but to me it’s nowhere as brilliant or mind blowing as many believe it to be.