STORM CORROSION is the much hyped, much talked about collaboration between two of modern prog rock’s heavyweights in OPETH‘s Mikael Akerfeldt and PORCUPINE TREE‘s mainman Steven Wilson. If you were to judge an album based on its cover art, one might expect a virtual labyrinth of complex, involved music to serve as a soundtrack to acclaimed Swiss artist Hans Arnold‘s richly detailed and intricate artwork. But sadly you would be wrong. So what exactly do the masterminds behind STORM CORROSION have to offer? Would the duo take a modern approach and craft a record along the lines of TOOL and modern day RUSH meeting up with PORCUPINE TREE? Or would they dig deep in to nostalgia and profess their love for all things CAMEL, NEKTAR and KING CRIMSON taking us all on a mindblowing prog rock odyssey? Or would the group take us on a smoke induced psychedelic journey heavy on the HAWKWIND and PINK FLOYD? Sadly all of the above scenarios are far more imaginative than what one will actually receive with STORM CORROSION.
Beginning with lead track “Drag Ropes,” our protagonists make it abundantly clear that less is more, and that they will seek to offer the listener collectively less than they ever have before. Super subtle, understated vocal lines by Mikael are backed by an assortment of gentle background ambiance that tries very hard to create a mood, but leaves the listener feeling flat. Five minutes in, the guys thrown in some off kilter vocal harmonies in attempt to mix things up, which leads in to some light guitar work which might be some of the most musical material on this album. But it unfortunately comes across as an afterthought as opposed to something substantial.
The title track follows with some dainty folk singing and strumming before arriving at a soothing yet not particularly inventive “solo.”
“Hag” then offers up a soft spoken, wistful piano/string ballad and after about four minutes of beating around the bush, KING CRIMSON/PORCUPINE TREE drummer Gavin Harrison crashes the party with some forbidden drumming and percussion that threatens to make the album exciting. After that outburst, he’s quickly thrown back into a musical kennel so the boys can focus on more dainty acoustics and allegedly “trippy” textures.
“Lock Howl” offers more of the same acoustic softness, but at a slightly increased tempo in an apparent effort to mix it up. Some clapping in time with some eerie keys tries to change it up, and afterwards we are left with several threats to take the album off the ground. But save for some sparse piano and keyboard tinkering in the background, the band never delivers on the promise.
To close things out, on “Ljudett Innan,” Mikael croons like he’s auditioning for a SADE tribute band, we get some movie score-like dream sequence, and Wilson arrives to wrap things up, meanwhile seemingly at gunpoint, Harrison is again held in check but allowed some very light percussion as the album shuts down.
STORM CORROSION sadly makes a strong case for illegal downloading, as there is nothing on here we haven’t heard these guys do numerous times before. The majority of the material isn’t bad, and it’s expertly and precisely performed as one might expect from these two studio perfectionists, but it is just that, material. There’s nothing on here that really jumps out as a legitimate song, as most of the material here comes across as half finished ideas, intros, outros, or interludes that could just as easily been on any number of the last few OPETH and/or PORCUPINE TREE albums. As such, they should have been offered for a free download on either of the band’s websites as “some random tinkering we did in the studio” as opposed to a real album. (Roadrunner Records)