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Prog Folk • United States

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Tempest biography
Formed in 1988 in Oakland, California and remain active ever since (as of 2017)

TEMPEST is a band with a modern folk-rock Progressive led by Lief SORBYE. Traditional instruments like mandolins and mandolas are used. "Turn Of The Wheel" includes the participation of Keith EMERSON on one track, while "The Tenth Anniversary Compilation" is a review of the group's career. Recorded in 2001, "Balance" proves to be an excellent second album that is a little tougher, no doubt about it in order to justify their presence on this label with a very marked identity.

- NOT to be confused with the 1970's UK band of the same name

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Living in FearLiving in Fear
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2011
Audio CD$10.89
$10.88 (used)
Another DawnAnother Dawn
Audio CD$11.96
$11.87 (used)
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2011
Audio CD$10.89
$10.88 (used)
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TEMPEST discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

TEMPEST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.10 | 2 ratings
3.67 | 3 ratings
Serrated Edge
3.75 | 4 ratings
Surfing To Mecca
4.09 | 29 ratings
Turn Of The Wheel
3.17 | 11 ratings
The Gravel Walk
3.54 | 12 ratings
3.20 | 11 ratings
3.93 | 17 ratings
The Double-Cross
3.52 | 8 ratings
Another Dawn
4.00 | 6 ratings
The Tracks We Leave

TEMPEST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

TEMPEST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TEMPEST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Sunken Treasures
3.52 | 4 ratings
The 10th Anniversary Compilation
0.00 | 0 ratings
15th Anniversary Collection

TEMPEST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Tracks We Leave by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 6 ratings

The Tracks We Leave
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US band TEMPEST has been an ongoing venture since the late 1980's, with some line-up alterations occurring along the way as is natural for a hard touring, long lasting band like this. Under the leadership of Lief Sorbye they have more than a dozen album releases to their name, have played thousands of concerts all over the world, and is in general what can be described as a very well known name in the niche segment of the music industry in which they operate. "The Tracks We Leave" is their most recent studio production, and was released through US label Magna Carta in 2015.

With Tempest just about anyone will know what they get, but for those who haven't come across this band yet, Celtic rock and folk rock are the main descriptions used about them. Within the communities with an interest in music of that nature, Tempest is a name just about anyone is aware of, that they are regular performers at some of the better known folk music festivals in the western hemisphere probably indicates just the stature they have in those circles.

What we often get with bands as long lasting as this is an album that reeks of experience. These are musicians well aware of what works and what doesn't work musically, the main question is if they manage to capture the energy of their live performances into the mare tame environments of a recording studio. And from what I can tell the answer is a positive one on this occasion. I rather guess that some of these tunes will sound better live than on album, but by and large this CD is a satisfying experience as well.

Mandolin, electric guitars, flute and violin forms the backbone of most of the compositions here, in various guises and arrangements. Quite a few are clearly and undeniable relying on the Irish and Celtic heritage, with drums, electric guitars and organ adding a rock vibe to the proceedings in an effective manner. Both the instrumentals and songs featuring vocals work quite nicely as well, with strong and controlled lead male vocals and a satisfyingly contrasting female backing vocal making it's appearance in some key moments. The violin and flute alternates between being melancholic, mournful and uplifting, sometimes combining these features in the same arrangement as well.

While the Celtic and Irish orientation comes across as dominant, there are other aspects to this CD as well. An ancient, Norwegian folk tune has been included, a couple of other tracks feature certain elements that possibly has something of a Norwegian folk music touch to them as well, and there's even a song where the band opts to include a recurring, lazy reggae passage. Those fond of world music rather than strictly western oriented folk rock gets a slight nod as well, with the more Middle Eastern scales and notes used to good effect on concluding cut Surfing to Mecca.

While folk rock, just like many other aspects of rock music, arguably had it's heyday a few decades back, there are still artists exploring this type of music and still people with the desire to listen to it. Those who have a general taste for music of this nature, and then in particular for those with a certain affection for artists operating out from a core foundation of Celtic and Irish music of this kind, can note down that this album by Tempest is a safe, good quality choice.

 The 10th Anniversary Compilation  by TEMPEST album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.52 | 4 ratings

The 10th Anniversary Compilation
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Lend an ear to Tempest, you shall hear

The somewhat misleadingly titled The 10th Anniversary Compilation is not strictly speaking a compilation. Rather than compiling recordings from various sources, the contents here are re-recorded versions of songs that originally appeared elsewhere, including on the band's three first albums. As these early albums are seemingly impossible to find, The 10th Anniversary Compilation is probably the best substitute on the market. I located it on Spotify.

As I haven't heard the original Tempest versions of these songs, I cannot compare with these re-recorded versions. But I can say that The 10th Anniversary Compilation is up to par with some of this great band's regular studio albums. It is far from being their best and certainly not among their more progressive material, but it is a good album. Prog (Folk) fans will need to start with the brilliant Turn Of The Wheel and a couple of other excellent albums, but the present disc is a worthy addition to any Tempest collection. Had this been listed as a studio album, I would probably have investigated it much earlier than I did.

 Another Dawn by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 8 ratings

Another Dawn
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Irish like Prog Folk / Folk from USA ? I wasn't sure what to think at first. But over the course of time, I felt the need to listen to this album again and again. Catchy, indeed. Combination of my two (let's say) favourite genres (even Irish music has its music after which you will know everything, there's not much place to progress, not as, but similar to blues - you simply have to behave within certain limits, if you want it to work).

And it's combination of basic Irish Folk and something more. I though that this "something" isn't here (after listening typical ballad Let's Live For Today), but later on, especially in interludes within songs, it's present.

So probably

4(-), very barely. But because it's my first Tempest album and I don't know yet about said using of the same style, I'll stick with this rating. And I quite like it anyway.

 Bootleg by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.10 | 2 ratings

Tempest Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars At least at this early stage in their career, TEMPEST did little to justify categorization as "progressive" beyond occasional passages suggestive of big-time JETHRO TULL envy, and I suppose one could argue that's all the credentials they need. But so many bands, especially from the other side of the Atlantic, plied a similar trade in a more convincing, serious and authentic manner.

This is not bad by any means - it's entertaining and relatively well produced Celtic rock, not much different from what you'd get if a good Irish pub band was given studio time and a saavvy producer. This is particulary true on the first half of the selections, dominated as they are by revved up takes on overly played out standards like "Handsome Molly" and "Wild Rover". The proceedings are more than salvaged by the later selections - the thankfully wordless "Dance of the Third Leg", the punchy "Heart of Mine", and the ambitious "Man Without a Name" - all of which display more adventurousness and point to future potentia. At present I cannot say whether this was fulfilled since I pretty much dismissed TEMPEST as a MEN THEY COULDN'T HANG or OYSTERBAND midwestern wannabe in the early 90s.

Somehow the centuries of practice have provided their British Isles counterparts with a more spontaneous and enduring take on this little subgenre, which is celtic rock, no more no less,. However, if this is a favourite style of yours, as it is of mine, TEMPEST has done just enough to avoid sounding like a totally cheap bootleg. 2.5 stars rounded down.

 Turn Of The Wheel by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.09 | 29 ratings

Turn Of The Wheel
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Tempest´s third offering was the second I had since I discovered this very interesting prog folk outfit. Compared to 2006´s The Double Cross, this one is slightly more on the traditional side (meaning the electric guitars here have not so much bite). I also prefer DC´s repertoire more than this one, but that´s just a matter of taste, for the usual high quality choice of songs, the excellent musicanship and the tasteful arrangements are all here ten years before that disc. I also love lead singer and multi instrumentalist Lief Sorbye´s voice. He sounds a lot like a old time minstrel coming from a Robin Hood film!

One thing there always puzzled me was the fact that this band is based on the USA since their music is not even remotely american. They are truly heirs of european groups like Steeleay Span and Fairport Convention. Tempst did modernize their sound and again the production is much superior to those two groups ever had. And the playing here is quite joyful and energetic with some fantastic electric guitar licks and brilliant bass parts along with the more traditional elements of the flute, violin and mandolin. You can see those guys really love what they´re doing. As a curio Keith Emerson does makes an appearance on the first track, The Barrow Man, delivering the odd synth solo.

Tempest hardly brings anything new to this kind of sound in terms of structure, but, boy, are they convincing! They do make everything here sound new! And there is no fillers anywhere. There are few lows here also, and even in those cases I must point out it is just my personal taste, not the quality of the material.So if you like prog folk, go for it. It is very unliked you won´t like this band. Rating: four stars.

 The Double-Cross by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.93 | 17 ratings

The Double-Cross
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is my first Tempest album and I should say I never heard about this band before. But I read one of Kenneth Levine´s reviews about them and. since we have similar tastes, I decided to give it a try. And I did not regret it! Real good band and real good CD! Tempest does sound a lot like a modern version of Steeleye Span (sans the female vocals) from the mid 70´s (around the time of Now We Are Six, to be more precise). But make no mistake, they are not copycats. In fact they sound a lot rockier and the production here is quite superior.

Like Steeleye Span the repertoire has a lot of traditional songs, plus some original stuff. Lead singer Lief Sorbye has a fine voice, perfect for the style, like a young Ian Anderson (so, expect lots of personality!). The musicanship is top notch, of course and I particularly liked the electric guitar sound: powerful, crunching, but not overwhelming. The guy knows when to play and when no to play. The bass parts are also a highlight, great! There are some awesome traditional sounds too, like the violin (another fine feature here). this is a team efford of sorts and it´s one of the best I heard lately.

As it often happens with most of the good prog records, The Double Cross took a little time to be fully appreciated, even if the opening track (Captain Kidd) did make a strong impression since the very first moment I head it. There are no fillers and the instrumental tunes show all the prowness of this energetic band. Very convincing record. Even if they did not bring anything groundbreaking or new to the genre, this is the kind of CD every prog folk fan should own it. I´m looking forward to hear their other works, before and after this one. But The Double Cross is, already, highly recommended. .

 Another Dawn by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 8 ratings

Another Dawn
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars They (seemingly) never tire of the road!

Ever since 1996 (I have not yet heard their very earliest albums; this band goes back to the late 80's), Tempest have been trying to make the "same" album over and over; same formula, same sound, same aesthetic, same producer, same label, etc. Some of the members of the band have been replaced over time, but the musical direction has remained basically the same throughout. They seem to live by a 'if it works, why change anything'- principle. And it has worked for them as they have indeed made several excellent albums that both Prog Rock fans and Folk Rock fans might find more than worth their while. However, what I have just said somewhat disguises the fact that some of Tempest's albums lean a bit more to the Folk side and other albums a bit more to the Rock side of the band. The present album falls somewhere in between on that scale.

Like their obvious heroes Steeleye Span, Tempest here mix traditional with original material in a Rock context and they even feature a cover of an old Pop song in Let's Live For Today which in the booklet is described as "our Celtodelic cover of the classic 1967 Grass Roots hit". As on all previous Tempest albums, we also once again get one traditional Scandinavian song sung in Norwegian (Jomfru) due to the origin of the multi-talended band leader Lief Sorbye. He has a great and distinctive voice and on this album he is credited with playing mandoguitar, mandolins, octave mandolas, flute, harmonica, bodhran and tambourine. But the sound of Another Dawn is, as usual with Tempest, dominated by acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, bass and drums though I miss the excellent lead guitar from the Balance album.

While some previous albums featured unusual elements such as bagpipes and didgeridoo (The Double-Cross), female backing vocals (Shapeshifter), synthesisers (played by Keith Emerson on Turn Of The Wheel) and an abundance of flutes, Another Dawn features only the "basic" Tempest line up. Producer Robert Barry is, like on previous albums, credited with playing keyboards, but there is very little keyboards on this album - mainly Hammond organ and never to the front of the sound. Barry, who has been with the band for a long time, is in the booklet elevated to 'honorary band member'.

In conclusion I can say that this is a good and very enjoyable album from a great band, but in order to keep the Prog fan interested over their continued discography, Tempest will really have to start making some radical progression. With the present album they don't push things significantly beyond what Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span has been doing since the 70's. Indeed, attentative listeners will recognize a few of the traditional pieces that has been previously performed by these older Folk Rock bands. While Another Dawn is a recommended addition to any collection that already holds Turn Of The Wheel, Balance and The Double-Cross, I do not recommend starting your investigation into Tempest with this album. Those other albums are all better places to start and a bit more interesting albums from a Prog perspective.

 The Double-Cross by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.93 | 17 ratings

The Double-Cross
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Another storming album from Tempest!

Starting with the great Turn Of The Wheel album (I have not yet heard the band's two first albums), this great Folk Rock band seems to have operated on the every-second-album- principle i.e. they have alternated between making good albums and even better albums. While albums like Turn Of The Wheel, Balance and the present one are more Rock based, the albums released in between these, The Gravel Walk and Shapeshifter, are more focused on the band's pure Folk side. I don't mean to say that all these albums are radically different from each other, they are certainly not. But Turn Of The Wheel, Balance and The Double-Cross are better and more interesting albums, in my opinion; especially so for Prog fans.

With The Double-Cross, Tempest once again turns towards the more hard edged sound found on Balance and it is clear that they stay true to what they do best. This is the Tempest that I like best, anyway. However, even if their different albums emphasise different aspects of the band, all of the albums I mentioned above, including the present one, seem to follow a similar formula and all the Tempest trademarks are here once again; a mix between original and traditional material, a mix between Rock and Folk, etc. Also, we once again get one traditional Scandinavian song sung in Norwegian (Per Spelmann) due to the origin of band leader and multi-instrumentalist Lief Sorbye and also once again the album opens with a song about a notorious pirate. This time it is Captain Kidd, which is the opening number (on Balance the opening number was a song called Captain Ward). All this gives a slight feeling that they are repeating themselves a little bit, but it is certainly a pleasant thing to listen to even if not quite as breathtaking as some earlier efforts.

There are, however, some new and exciting elements on this album too. Bagpipes and didgeridoo makes their first appearance on a Tempest album here which is most notable on Cabar Feidh. But for the most part the sound is, as usual, dominated by fiddle, mandolin, bass, drums and guitars. The electric guitar sound is slightly less to my liking here and there is not such great lead guitar work as could be found on Balance. The keyboards are, as always, played by Robert Barry, but there is very little keyboards on this album - mainly Hammond and never to the front of the sound.

The album closes with a longer track called Wizard's Walk. This is a medley of several pieces and is not very different from the rest of the album even if it moves through several different moods and atmospheres including a Blues improvisation with harmonica!

While this is another strong Tempest album, it is, as I said, not quite up to par with Turn Of The Wheel and Balance. I would recommend going for those two first, but for anyone wanting to venture beyond that point, The Double-Cross is an excellent addition to your collection. It sure was to mine!

 The Gravel Walk by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.17 | 11 ratings

The Gravel Walk
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars One for the fiddler

As a follow up to the excellent Turn Of The Wheel album, The Gravel Walk is something of a disappointment. This albums seems not to have been aimed at those who were impressed by Turn Of The Wheel's innovative and eclectic mix of Folk Rock and hard edged progressive Rock, but rather at fans of more traditional Folk Rock in the Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span tradition. More than half of the material here is traditional and the electric guitar solos and keyboards are much less present here as are the Ian Anderson-like flutes. The sound is dominated by fiddle, mandolin, vocals, bass and drums.

Still, this is a good album but it is, in my opinion, the least good Tempest album (among the ones I have heard so far, which are: Turn Of The Wheel, the present one, Balance, Shapeshifter and The Double-Cross).

Recommended for fans of traditional British Folk Rock, but for Prog fans I would strongly recommend to begin with another Tempest album.

Good, but not essential

 Shapeshifter by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.20 | 11 ratings

Tempest Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Not really shifting shapes too much!

Shapeshifter is yet another good Tempest album, but I feel that they are playing it rather safe here. All the songs are good, but they don't manage to say anything that they had not already said on their previous albums. Further, the progressive elements that were so clearly present on albums like Turn Of the Wheel and Balance tend to take the backseat on this album in favour of a more classic British Folk Rock approach very much in line with Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. They once again, like on The Gravel Walk album, lean heavily on traditional material (about 50/50). Tempest still rocks here, but they have lost some of the hard edge of the Balance album.

In one sense they certainly do shift shape here; they have a new line-up once again. But the presence of Norwegian-born multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Lief Sorbye is what carries the Tempest sound. He is really a very talented singer and song writer. Sue Draheim takes over the position as fiddler on this album and she also provides backing vocals to many songs. This only strengthens the Steeleye Span similarities even more. It is actually rather remarkable that Tempest, a band that has existed only since the late 80's, can sound as confident and "classic" as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span that had been around since the 60's or early 70's.

One thing that made the previous Balance album so good was the presence of a couple of great instrumental pieces. While there are some nice instrumental work here too, there is nothing on par with Dance Of The Sand Witches or Battle Mountain Breakdown from the previous album. The band trademark to include one traditional Scandinavian Folk number sung in Norwegian is not broken, this time it is a number called Fjellmannjenta.

While Shapeshifter is definitely a good album, I would not recommend this album to start with. Turn Of the Wheel and Balance are better places to start investigating this great band.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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