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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tempest

Balance

Review by Gary Hill

Although 1999's 10th Anniversary Compilation included new recordings of the group's older material, this disc is the first album of truly "new" songs by this band since 1997's Gravel Walk. Showcasing a new lineup and 12 new tracks, this one continues in the tradition of the group. Tempest is a Celtic rock band that leans quite heavily on the prog end of things. They treat their folk roots with a high reverence, and it shows both in the performances and the wonderful explanations of songs in the liner notes. That said, they still are a rock band, leaning to a bluesy sort of prog blend in that part of their style. The comparisons to Jethro Tull are obvious, but really Tempest is a lot more firmly rooted in the old world traditions than Tull. Although there are no real revelations or surprises here, there are some absolutely wondrous moments, and this one is sure to please the longtime fans of the band, and hopefully bring in some new ones.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Captain Ward
A good sea faring tale, this is a strong cut based heavily on the Celtic traditions, but with solid hard-edged prog leanings.
Dancing Girl
More sedate, bouncy and fun, this one is in a more traditional Celtic mode. It breaks into a completely traditional jam which carries on in electrified form.
Dance of The Sand Witches
Who could not love a song with such a great title? This cut is a rather Tull oriented rocker that is a killer instrumental number. It has some wonderful changes, making it an awesome prog excursion.
Iron Lady
This one is a great prog rocker with strong Celtic leanings. The cut was written by the late folk singer Phil Ochs. It is an anti-capital punishment statement.
Two Sisters
With a folky texture that almost comes across as country music, this is an acoustically based Celtic piece.
Wicked Spring
Starting somewhat bombastic, the cut drops to a more sedate acoustically driven mode. It begins building from there. This is one that leans more on the traditional Celtic than modern rock, but both are represented.
Old Man Flint
This instrumental is a collection of three cuts, all with interesting inspirational origins. It is solid rocking showing both powerful prog and Celtic tendencies. As the latter parts of the cut kick in, it is in a frantic Celtic progression.
Villemann
Described as "a mythical medieval ballad from Norway", this one is a strong proggy rock rendition of a very Celtic sort of song. The break on it is great prog.
Battle Mountain Breakdown
An instrumental piece inspired by a van breakdown that left the band stranded, it is energetic and rather playful in texture - good clean fun, but with some major neo-classical prog jamming. This one really rocks!
The Journeyman
More traditional acoustic Celtic music makes up the mode of this one. The liner notes say that this is "an old folk song with new music". It also says that is followed by two traditional horn pipes. It becomes more hard edged and rocking as it carries on.
Between Us
This is another acoustic based Celtic ballad.

Royal Oak
Starting in a fairly traditional acoustic Celtic mode, the cut gets hard-edged and more frantic with the prog stylings, tinged with Celtic progressions, taking it for a while. It moves more toward the traditional after a time, but still the arrangement is more powerful and layered that before.
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