on May 9, 2012
(Taken from my review posted to The House of Wormwood)
Whenever an album is released by Opeth or Porcupine Tree, more often than not you never concretely know what to expect until you hear the first cut from it. The main creative forces between those bands (Mikael Akerfeldt and Steve Wilson, respectively) consistently have delivered an ever-evolving and soul-enriching sound, whether it's the almost literary brutality of Ghost Reveries or the cerebral pendulum of The Incident.
Back in the autumn of 2011, Opeth released their Heritage album, which challenged their listeners, yet galvanized their hardcore fans. Shortly after, Wilson (who mixed Heritage) released his indescribably beautiful Grace for Drowning. I purchased both when they were released and I absolutely adored them. They were and are testaments to unearthly musicianship that make no apologies for beauty and take you on a remarkably cathartic journey.
Then the idea was mentioned by one of them that these were two pieces of a greater (yet unofficial) trinity. A collaboration between them, something anxiously awaited by fans of both, was under way. Even though fans were going mad with expectation (just look at the Facebook page's wall), they kept the sound deeply under wraps until they set loose the video for the first cut from it.
Now we have the rest of it.
Those who heard/watched 'Drag Ropes' will have a good idea what to expect. Storm Corrosion is dark, brooding, intellectual and atmospheric. The melodies are delicate and modest, while the moods and depth are utterly lush. The album is unlike anything I've heard and yet you can hear the strains of Opeth and Wilson's solo project within it.
And that's one of the most interesting facets of this jewel: you can hear certain melodic hooks that are indicative of Akerfeldt's song-writing and atmospheres that are all Wilson (and vice versa), yet in spite of this identity, the two blend together seamlessly in the songs, rather like various wine grapes that have been blended and still retain the traits of their original states.
The album has a weight to it that challenges metal for depth of emotional evocation. It's the foil to the in-your-face chainsaw of so many harder bands. While they are the hordes of warriors, hacking into the enemy, Storm Corrosion is something far more powerful that can conquer with a whisper. You can spin something like 'Drag Ropes' or 'Hag' and find something more sinister than any black metal band, yet more gentle than the likes of Bach or Mozart.
As a result, those who are expecting the usual heaviness of Opeth will be disappointed. This is not a bad thing, as long as you have an ear for their Damnation or Heritage albums. This is an album for those who can transcend melody and technicality (even though there are both aplenty on this recording) and just let the whole thing wash over you.
In short, it's my opinion that this is probably the most important album to have been released in 2012, so far. Not for any specific genre (indeed you can't really classify this as anything but prog-ambient-folk-industrial-classical-jazz-rock and that would still be wrong), but for the contemporary music scene in general.
on May 13, 2012
This is definitely not what I was expecting from this duo.
I anticipated prog metal, knowing the history of these two, but this is more ambient with lots of mellotron.
There a feel of latter era Talk Talk. Some of it reminds me of early Pink Floyd (think Grantchester Meadows).
Very rewarding music if you're willing to listen and soak it all in.