Years of anticipation and expectation are at last being realised as the hugely vaunted collaboration between Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame and Opeth main man Mikael Åkerfeldt sees the light of day under the guise of Storm Corrosion. There has been much conjecture as to quite what direction this would go in, given the varied output the pair have issued between them in the last twenty years. All we really knew with any degree of certainty is that it would be rather proggy...
I count myself being amongst those most excited by the prospect of this record, and would be very disappointed with nothing less than magnificence from the album, a grand statement of musical mastery. I am not disappointed. What we have been gifted with Storm Corrosion is a deftly crafted showcase in subtlety and atmosphere, a minimalistic approach to creating a piece of art that affects the audience, draws them into this isolated space with an ease and grace most cannot ever hope to achieve.
The obvious comparisons will be with Opeth's acoustic album Damnation, on which the pair did work together, but that is merely a starting point as to where these two have gone here. Elements of Wilson's work with No-Man and Bass Communion inevitably worm their way in too, as does the spectre of Åkerfeldt's more recent dalliances into old school prog and folk. It is a massive credit that it is difficult to pinpoint just who or what they sound like, a sign that Storm Corrosion is something rather unique.
Building from simple acoustic beginnings, each track ventures off down dark and twisted alleyways of the mind, with strings, synths and samples swelling like a gathering storm full of ominous portents. Always menacing, the music of Storm Corrosion hints at the unseen monsters around every corner, the soundtrack to a cruelly suggestive horror show played out in your head. The massed layers of vocal harmonies add to this other-worldly sense created by the haunting music, a ghostly choir just out of sight.
Storm Corrosion won't appeal to all fans of both artists, but for those who dig the proggier and more ambient aspects of their previous work will certainly be enamoured with the majestic, aural pictures painted here. Storm Corrosion is a record that requires patience and a relaxed state of mind to fully realise its magic and grace, but in abundance it has both. A triumph by any measure.