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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tempest

Double Cross

Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Celtic proggers Tempest is Double Cross and it's a very strong addition to the band's catalog. While I personally don't find it as potent as their last one Shapeshifter, that's more a matter of personal taste than anything. Certainly this disc showcases the same amount of musical power as that last one did. The difference is that with that album the music resonated more consistently with me than it does on this one. Besides, when you are following up something as strong as that one, it's pretty expected to be a tough act to beat. This one is certainly the second best ship in the Tempest fleet, and I love the album cover.

Track by Track Review
Captain Kidd
The third in Tempest's series of songs about famous Pirates, this one comes in pretty typically as an up-tempo Celtic rocker. Later in the cut, though, they turn it rather crunchy, and this one is quite catchy. The fiddle work here, while not over the top is quite effective and there is one especially tasty solo.

Slippery Slide
Michael Mullen wrote this one many years ago, and it now sees its first light as a Tempest song. This comes in at first on acoustic instruments, then a very crunchy and meaty guitar sound enters. Soon, the entire band jump in tempering this raw backdrop with more prog and Celtic overtones. The bass lends a cool rubbery groove to the backdrop. This instrumental goes through several intriguing changes in its rather short course
Hangman
This comes in like a mellow prog ballad, but it gets pumped up as it carries on. The lyrics are a traditional song called "The Prickly Bush" that I'm guessing will sound familiar to many people. It was also used as the basis for the Led Zeppelin song "Gallows Pole." This version has a completely different musical backdrop than that one, though. This is a very effective progressive rock jam with some strong Celtic and modern leanings. They do a killer job of creating a strong jam from this basis. A haunting fiddle (I know that's what they call it, but I still think "violin") solo mid track is a nice touch. They also do nice work with the other over-textures here. This is one of the strongest tracks on show here.

Black Eddy
Starting on fiddle, the band launch into a series of four songs performed as one of the medleys that Tempest have always been so fond of creating. The first three are original compositions, with the final one being a traditional song. This one has a definite old world texture throughout, though. It is both proggy and old school in sound. At times, this feels like the theme song to Green Acres, but it's always bouncy and fun.
Whoever You Are
This one feels a bit like Tempest does Jimmy Buffet at points to me. It is a rather lighthearted prog rock jam. It also seems to have a touch of the Grateful Dead in there. This even features harmonica.

Vision Quest:
This has a powerful dramatic flair to its hard-edged, but very Celtic prog rock textures. Another instrumental, this one is one of my favorite tracks on the disc and has some of the coolest prog on show here.

Per Spelmann
This is more traditional, with a bouncy Celtic tone. Its lyrics are traditional, with new music from Sorbye.

Cabar Feidh
The group is joined here for this medley of two Highland pipes tunes by The Wicked Tinkers. This gives the instrumental a unique flavor with pipes and heavy rock merging for a very effective stomper. I have to say that often I despise bagpipes (no, that's not an exaggeration), but when played well, there's nothing like it.
Eppy Moray
While this on the one hand is very traditional, it is also one of the more modern prog takes here. This cut is powerful and emotional, and my favorite on show here. This one has some of the most dramatic music on the entire CD. The vocal arrangement, the music - all of it is just about perfect. This turns very mellow at one point, then a super tasty series of solos fire out in succession, guitar first, then fiddle, then a combination. I can't say enough just how strong this one is.

Wizard's Walk
Starting on percussion, this is a medley of four pieces of music, but even includes a bit of Bach. A funky bass line lends a new sound to the band, then they move out into a series of explorations that include crunch and traditional sounds. This gets extremely dramatic at points as it carries forward. It runs through a ton of changes, and as such is probably the most dynamic cut on show here. They get classical, bluesy and just about everything in between in this wide array of styles. While it's not quite the song that "Eppy Moray" is to this reviewer, it's a darn close run for the money. This is another high point of the disc and this killer instrumental makes for a great conclusion to the album.

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