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With this album, Tempest seem to have completely found themselves. Maybe it's the new lineup, maybe it's maturity. Whatever the reason, it's very satisfying. They've worked their way out of the prog rock cul de sac that they'd been trapped in, and they've also outgrown the Steeleye Span fetish that was a hallmark of their earlier albums. The instrumental work sparkles throughout, and Lief Sørbye's vocals have more punch to them. To be fair, they shine brighter on traditional material like "Tamosher" and "Byker Hill" (a storming version) than on their own work, which is treated a little too gently. Notably, they've expanded from the British tradition to take in old American songs here ("Old Man at the Mill"), which might offer a way forward for them -- they certainly do it justice. Sue Draheim is a revelation on fiddle, bringing years of playing with her, adding texture and tone. With Shapeshifter, the band does indeed shift shape, breaking out from the Celtic ghetto, while rocking as hard as ever. At the same time, although successful on its own terms, it's impossible to think of this as anything but a transitional record as they head to wherever they're going next.

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