Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson are perhaps two of the most hardworking, innovative musicians today. It’s not necessarily that they put out vast amounts of material (although Steven Wilson seems to have his fingers in more pies than a bakery on Thanksgiving), it’s more that the material they release is so dense and intelligent that it requires more effort than usual to absorb. So when the two confirmed that they were collaborating on a project together entitled Storm Corrosion, the prog and metal worlds went into a bustle of brainstorming. “What could this collaboration sound like?” “Who would have the greater hand in the overall sound?” “WHEN WAS IT COMING OUT????“
Well, on May 7th, this self-titled release will hit shelves and I wanted to weigh in with my opinion. Is it a worthwhile journey or did the collaboration of two stellar musicians fail to produce all that was hyped and hoped for?
Storm Corrosion is, as both Mikael and Steven have noted, a continuation of Opeth’s Heritage (review) and Steven Wilson’s Grace For Drowning. It is never heavy in terms of distortion but rather relies upon the heaviness of emotion and atmosphere to create some oppressive and terrifying moments.
That being said, there are moments of stark, almost heartbreaking beauty. A perfect example of the mixture of this beauty and apprehension is in the title track, Storm Corrosion. Using minimal instrumentation and focusing more on the tones and textures, there were moments when I just eased back and closed my eyes, smiling, completely hypnotized. Suddenly, a few moments later, I was listening to a symphonic cacophony in what can only be described as something out of a horror film. In listening to this song, was I safe or in danger? Perhaps it was both. And therein lies the magic of this album. It challenges the listener and their very well-being.
There are some very obvious nods to the great prog rock bands of the past, such as King Crimson, Yes, Camel, Asia, Brand X, and more. But there were some other nods that surprised me, such as the beginning of Ljudet Innan, which sounds like something out of Vangelis’s soundtrack for Blade Runner.
When it comes to the instrumentation and the mixing, this album is gorgeous. There is a vast wealth of instruments and tones that are mixed and panned beautifully, creating an immersive, haunting world.
The Final Word: Completely free and unfettered, Storm Corrosion is nothing short of a stunning musical achievement that will no doubt become a timeless classic. While not for everyone, those who appreciate the paths that Wilson and Akerfeldt have been walking will no doubt relish joining along beside them.
Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonny B.? Shoot him a message on Twitter!
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