Review Summary: This is why I get bothered when artists try to be both accessible and experimental.
I stated in my review of Opeth's Watershed
was a good pop album. Let me elaborate on that a little; it was as experimental as Akerfeldt had originally hyped it up to be, yet it's easily their most accessible album yet. It had enough in it to appeal to even the more casual listener. And I hate to break it to the more elitist portion of their fanbase, but I'd say a large chunk of Opeth's discography is very accessible- Blackwater Park
being an obvious example, but Still Life
and even My Arms, Your Hearse
are pretty damned accessible if you ask me. Too a lesser extent, the same can be said about Porcupine Tree and even Steven Wilson's solo works. One can easily get into Deadwing
and Lightbulb Sun
without even having to try.
I say this because both of the listed artists above are truly talented artists and are capable of so much more than what is offered on their first collaboration album together, Storm Corrosion
. A collaboration album between the two new kings of progressive rock was inevitable, and had been anticipated for quite some time- problem is, it doesn't really tie together much at all. It's progressive, all right. It's progressive something. Problem is, it's not really progressive rock as roughly 95% of it is acoustic with little to no percussion, but lots of fiddling around on the mellotron. it seems as if they were in a rush to get the album finished, as not a lot happens over the course of the six veeeery long tracks. In fact, the song titles are also an indication of rushedness- "Hag"? "Drag Ropes"? Surely they weren't even trying there?
It doesn't stop at just the song titles, though- the album immediately starts off on a bad note with "Drag Ropes". The song starts nowhere, goes nowhere, and, well, ends up nowhere. There's some nice singing from both involved but not much notable in terms of actual lyrics or music. Much of it is just acoustic plucking and there's maybe a total of three mood shifts throughout the song. thing is, you can practically feel the shift each time it comes, and that's a bad thing. This is how pretty much the whole album feels. There are a couple moments of soft free jazz, and like the maybe eight mood shifts on the whole album, you can feel them. Songs like "Happy" and "Storm Corrosion" repeat the same mind-numbingly boring riff at least 20-30 times per every two minutes and the occasional moments of singing fail to provide much, if any, catharsis. Just about the only track from this album that I can even remember is "Lock Howl", yet it's an instrumental. And I like instrumentals, but it's a bad sign when the only memorable tune is an instrumental.
As background music, Storm Corrosion
might work. It would make lovely music for if you're cleaning the bathroom or weeding out the garden, but considering it's meant to tie Opeth's Heritage
and Wilson's Grace For Drowning
together as a trilogy, that's where it fails. It's nothing more than an expensive collection of background tunes. As a whole it feels flat and all the songs blend into each other too easily. Considering both artists have made some absolutely beautiful ambient stuff in the past (a good example being much of On the Sunday of Life
), that's another area where this album is a disappointment. And more Wilson influence is detectable on the album than Akerfeldt- I'd say it's a weak Wilson solo album with moments of collaboration from Akerfeldt, and until Wilson's newest album, much of his non-solo stuff has come off as a bit undercooked, really. Then again, it's hard to keep your attention on one project when all these ideas float through your British head.
In short, I'd have not been so nitpicky if the majority of this album were done by artists that don't even have a tenth of the talent that Akerfeldt and Wilson have, but considering this is made by two people considered to be legends, you'll be left expecting more. It's not worth the $40 I paid for the special edition bundle, and considering an album of mostly acoustic stuff may sound good on paper, sadly it just falls flat. It tries too hard to be both accessible and experimental at the same time- problem is, it only succeeds because of either musician playing below their capability level.