Sound — 9
The final chapter in the proposed trilogy of albums by musical masterminds Mikael Akerfeldt & Steven Wilson, rounded out by Opeth's "Heritage" & "Grace For Drowning" respectively, "Storm Corrosion" delivers and then some. Apparently conceived one night at Wilson's England home over glasses of wine, "Storm Corrosion" is both a startling listen & a revelation. Like both "Heritage" & "Grace For Drowning" did for both artist's respective fan bases, it is sure to divide many, for it's unique blend of progressive, folk & even avant-garde influences aren't for everyone. However, through it's grand vision & almost cinematic scope ("Storm Corrosion" wouldn't sound out of place on the soundtrack to a similarly eclectic film), it is sure to capture the imaginations of those willing to embrace and embark upon it's wholly uncompromising journey of musical & artistic exploration. According to interviews conducted with both Akerfeldt & Wilson, "Storm Corrosion" was a complete 50/50 effort in terms of songwriting, although upon first listen it is easier to discern the influence of Steven Wilson on the albums sound & arrangement than it is Mikael Akerfeldt's. This however is not to say that Mikael's unique style and influence cannot be felt, as he contributes strongly to the albums overall sound with his fantastic acoustic & lead playing. Aside from the pair of Wilson & Akerfeldt, Porcupine Tree & current King Crimson drummer/percussionist Gavin Harrison provides all the drum work and percussion to be found on the album. However seldom (his percussion is only featuring prominently on a couple of the album's 6 tracks), his expertise is used to great effect, none more so than on 3rd track "Hag". Another thing to notice whilst listening to "Storm Corrosion", notably in the album's opening track "Drag Ropes", is the depth & majesty of the orchestration, at various points giving the music a tense, brooding atmosphere, in others one of stark beauty. Though it relies more heavily on acoustic guitars, piano, moody atmospherics & strings than it does on the crash of drums & electric guitars, a metal aesthetic permeates itself throughout the album, occasionally manifesting itself in the form of trippy guitar lines ("Drag Ropes") & atmospheric textures ("Hag") almost frightening in their intensity, reminding listeners that both artists were once at the cutting edge of progressive metal in their respective bands. Nevertheless, these moments are kept to a minimum throughout the album, only briefly offsetting the gentle beauty that is much of "Storm Corrosion".
Lyrics — 7
Perhaps surprisingly, Opeth mainman & vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt only sings lead on two of "Storm Corrosion"'s six tracks (one of which a stunning showcase of his stunning falsetto, a technique he first used to great effect on "Heritage"), elsewhere providing background harmonies to complement Steven Wilson's grandiose intertwining vocal arrangements (perhaps best showcased at around the halfway mark of opener "Drag Ropes", as well as featuring a Steven Wilson melody so infectious it won't leave your head for days). Wilson, himself a well accomplished vocalist, performs lead on the album's 4 other tracks (as well as providing harmonies for the two others), and sings in great voice & confidence throughout. Ultimately, it is the contrast between the pair's unique voices & phrasing that gives Storm Corrosion it's identity as a true "supergroup", however unfitting the term is in respect to the sound of the album as a whole. Lyrically, Storm Corrosion deals with deep & dark subject matter, much like on both artists recent work. Typical of both songwriters, all lyrics are of a high standard & are sure to spark plenty of discussion as to their explicit meaning.
Overall Impression — 9
Expectations within the metal & progressive communities ran high for the release of "Storm Corrosion", and as it turns out, it is either a love or hate album as many were predicting. Fans of musical exploration & the recent work of both artists are sure to find much to love, but fans that found Opeth's "Heritage" a challenge will likely find "Storm Corrosion" not to their taste. Wherever you stand, it is hard to deny that with "Storm Corrosion" Mikael Akerfeldt & Steven Wilson have created something truly unique & wholly their own, an uncompromising accomplishment even by their standards.