Maybe it sounds strange, but from the European point of view is not usual to find a non European band playing music based on Central European and Celtic melodies and fused with rock. It is easy, when we speak about folk-rock, to imagine progressive bands such as Jethro Tull -"Heavy Horses" and "Songs from the wood" era-, Gryphon, or Gnidrolog; rocker bands such as Wolfstone; classic such as The Chieftains; or even heavy such as the boring Mago de Oz (Spaniards) or the unbearable Skyclad. Because of it is not easy to imagine a North American band with a Cuban drummer and produced by one of the pomp-prog legends playing folk-rock music... and they know how to play it!.
Tempest is the name of the band. Obviously there is an European element who leads the band, the Norwegian Lief Sorbye (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolins, mandolas, harmonica, and bodhran). The rest of the band is the Cuban Adolfo Lazo (drums), Todd Evans (guitars, backing vocals), William Maxwell (bass and keyboards), and Jim Hurley (fiddle). Producing, playing the hammond B3, synthesizers, and choirs, is Robert Berry (responsible of lots of projects and tributes, and known as partner of Emerson and Palmer in Three). The history of Tempest begins in 1991 with the CD "Bootleg", followed by "Serrated Edge" (92), "Sunken Treasures" (93) and "Surfing to Mecca" (94). In 1996 they signed for Magna Carta and released the master piece "Turn of the wheel" (96), in which collaborates (a very good help) Mr. Keith Emerson. Tempest´s discography is completed with "The Gravel Walk" (97), 10th Anniversary "Compilation" (98), and "Live at Philadelphia Folk Festival" (99), not available in stores. Anyway, the most obvious reference to know the band could be found in Jethro Tull´s tribute "To cry you to song", where Tempest played a correct cover of "Locomotive Breath".
Tempest begins the millennium with "Balance", a CD not too long -45 minutes - with twelve tracks. Enough for us - without boring the listener- to check the skill of the band and the music style Tempest offers us. The music of Tempest has power, nerve, electric gleams with traditional rhythms and melodies, sometimes happy, sometimes (few) sentimental. All the songs of "Balance", composed by the members of the band or adapted covers of songs from European folklore, have the same style: powerful guitars, optimist vocal harmonies, alternation and coexistence of electric and acoustic instrumental passages, and, mainly, a good skill playing and composing, all stood out by Robert Berry with his production and his keyboards. The most representative tracks of the album are "Captain Ward" (3:34), "Old man hunt" (3:28), the brilliant and Tull-ish, sung in Norwegian, "Villemann" (4:35), and the medley of jigs and reels "The royal oak" (4:00). Forty five minutes are enough to enjoy Tempest -without overdoses- an to have a good time.
Although "Balance" is not as good as "Turn of the wheel", "Balance" is a very, very good CD that I am sure will satisfy people who enjoy Celtic rock with decibels and quality. If you like "Songs from the wood", the hardest CDs of Wolfstone, or if you have the luck to know the unknown band Jester, you will enjoy Tempest a lot. If your concept of Celtic music is Lorena McKennit (no problem with her, I like her a lot!), maybe "Balance" can be too hard for you. Anyway "Balance" is a good CD