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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Thirty Little Turns

Review by Gary Hill

It's hard to believe that Lief Sorbye first formed Tempest 30 years ago. This new album is a celebration of that rich history, whether you can believe it or not. It seems that in recent years every album from Tempest exceeds the previous one. This is no exception. It's probably the best album they've ever done. The musicianship is impeccable, but that's expected. The songs are energized and fun, showing off both the prog rock and Celtic foundations of this group very well. It is still early in terms of the new year, but this one has potential to ultimately make my "best of 2018" list. If you like Tempest, getting this is a new brainer. The fact is, if you haven't heard them (where have you been hiding?) and like Celtic based rock, do yourself a favor and buy this. This band is one of the best, and this is arguably their best release yet. Here's looking forward to more Tempest anniversaries to come.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Johnny Cope
Percussion leads things out here. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. After the first vocal section the rest of the band join. We're taken into a cool folk prog arrangement with a lot of Old World sound in the mix. The dramatic and powerful instrumental movement mid-track really brings the progressive rock home to roost, while not losing any of the Celtic elements. There is another shorter instrumental jam at the end.
Thirty Little Birds
The opening section of this is much more full on Celtic music, in an instrumental way. They bring a blast of rock after that section and eventually take it into a hard rocking song proper. While this is much more of a straightforward rocker, it never loses sight of it's prog or Celtic roots. There is some seriously funky bass work on this cut that really shines.
Battle of Aughrim
Coming out of the end of the previous cut, this rises up with a cool jazz meets psychedelia and prog arrangement. Then the Celtic lines of melody emerge to take it forward from there. This instrumental is quite dynamic and effective, working through a number of intriguing twists and turns.
Another that's a smoking hot rocker, this has a lot of Celtic edge to it. There are some breaks that almost run it toward fusion. It is a high energy stomper that works really well. The drop back to mellow territory really lends more of that fusion edge and brings some variety to it. There are some particularly memorable melodies built into this number.
Norwegian Wood
Sorbye and company turn their attention to The Beatles on this piece. The thing is, if you'd never heard the original version of this song, you'd swear these guys wrote it. It's such a perfect fit, and they do such a great job of making it their own. The Celtic elements bounce all over this number. The whole thing just works so well.
Lahard Chase
There is some amazing instrumental interplay as this comes into being. It's a high energy tune that's trademark Tempest. It tends to land more on the traditional music end of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean it fails to rock. They take it out into an almost rockabilly kind of jam later in the track, actually. It really does become a hoe-down. This instrumental is another new classic. It has some great changes, and is just a lot of fun.
A Toast
As good as the music thus far has been, this really raises the stakes. It comes in with a powerful hard rock meets Celtic sound. It drops to a balladic approach for the vocals. This is dramatic and evocative and so potent. With a number of intriguing changes, they even work in some neo-classical stuff in a jam later in the piece.
High Germany
I dig this bouncy Celtic rocker a lot. The multi-layered vocal arrangement is a great touch. The whole song just works really well, though. Around the two and half minute mark it shifts to a completely different arrangement that really grooves. It continues to ensue from there with another great Celtic instrumental celebration taking it late in the piece. It's a fun way to end it.
Madeline Jones
I love the catchy melodies and energetic vibe on this cut. It's a great merging of prog styled music and Celtic textures. I dare you to sit still with this one playing. It's so entertaining. It's also one of the highlights of the set.
The closing number is another instrumental. This one is packed with energy and a spirit of fun. It works through a number of changes over the course of the ride. It's a great combination of the progressive rock and Celtic music that is at the heart of Tempest. It's a perfect way to end a celebration of this chapter of Tempest.
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