Tempest - Balance

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9053
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:47:00

The first time I was introduced to Tempest was via Turn Of The Wheel, an album that earned me some pretty mean stares from my colleagues at Progfreaks.com when I told them it rocked after a friend had played it for me a couple of times. Well, I don't care, it did rock and I still stand by my opinion, even if I thought at the time that it would earn me continued sabotage on behalf of our beloved designer/webmaster for the next few months. Anyway, not so long ago, the Celtic rockers released Balance, five years after Turn Of The Wheel came out, and it was time to give it a go, so welcome to yet another album review.

First of all, for those who haven't heard about Tempest in a while and are wondering whether the band remained stuck in a stylistic rut or not ... it didn't. The band has moved forward while retaining the core elements of its approach, that is, a marriage of traditional folk song structures or originals and rock elements. Don't breathe a sigh of relief so quickly, however, because the results are mixed.

To be perfectly honest, the driving reworking of a traditional song like "Captain Ward" features a band that has reached a climax of musical ability and expression, including the hearty, swaggering vocals of Lief Sorbye. The track is actually likely to send one into fits of beer swinging and, for those of more belligerent nature, into a good old bare-fisted pub brawl. Then it's off to sea, and only because the combination of stringed instruments works in such a rhythmic cadence.

At the same time, however, the band strolls into areas that come off as a tad bit too campy or simply uninteresting. Forget about the nifty joy of "Dancing Girl" though, because that song actually hits the mark. I'm talking about the annoying melodies, vocals, and general repetitiveness of "Two Sisters" or the indifference of "The Journeyman." It is there that the band loses much of its momentum and kind of spoils the mood for a while, although it must be said in all fairness that the good moments of Balance considerably outweigh their counterparts.

Moreover, one has to admit that Tempest has guts. Instead of relying only on the excellent folk leanings that are obvious on tracks such as the instrumental "Old Man Flint," the band goes into intense folky heavy metal instrumentals ("Dance Of The Sand Witches"), speed folk with neo-classical outbursts ("Battle Mountain Breakdown") and melancholic cover versions of modern folk ("Iron Lady") with a flair that is to be envied by many out there, and that proves that the band, sappy moments notwithstanding, is very close to reaching its creative peak, if it has not done so already.

Similar artists: Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, Garolou

Captain Ward (3:34) / Dancing Girl (3:50) / Dance Of The Sand Witches (4:19) / Iron Lady (4:39) / Two Sisters (5:26) / Wicked Spring (3:49) / Old Man Flint (3:28) / Villemann (4:35) / Battle Mountain Breakdown (2:53) / The Journeyman (5:35) / Between Us (4:22) / Royal Oak (4:00)

Lief Sorbye - lead vocals, acoustic and electric mandolins and octave mandolas, harmonica, bodhran
Adolfo Lazo - drums
Todd Evans - electric and acoustic guitars, harmony vocals
William Maxwell - fretless and fretted basses, bass pedals, keyboards
Jim ?Hurricane? Hurley - fiddle


Robert Berry - B3 Hammond organ, synthesizer, harmony vocals

Springdans (1987) (Lief Sorbye)
Bootleg (1991)
Serrated Edge (1992)
Sunken Treasures (1993)
Surfing to Mecca (1994)
Across The Borders (1994) (Sorbye)
Turn of the Wheel (1996)
To Cry You A Song - A Tribute To Jethro Tull (1996) (contrib. one track)
The Gravel Walk (1997)
Caliban (1998) (Sorbye & Michael Mullins)
10th Anniversary (1998)
1999 Live at the Philadelphia Folk Festival (1999) (only available through Tempest)
Balance (2001)
Shapeshifter (2003)
15th Anniversary Collection (2004)
The Double Cross (2006)
Lief's Birthday Bash (2007)
Prime Cuts (2008
Another Dawn (2010)

Live At Karfluki Fest 2006 (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 30th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 1009
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]