While the band does have its symphonic tendencies, The Iron Tempests isn’t that highly digital a production. The EP sounds a bit rough, as if torn from the early two thousands when digital was slowly being incorporated into the analog studios. The keyboards sound pristine, sometimes overtaking the music, but this seems more for effect than anything, evidenced by their presence on “The Western Tempests”. After the atmospheric introduction that sets up a Wintersun or Alestorm-like call to adventure, the subtle blackened atmosphere laid out by its chords are simplified, buried a bit in the background by the indecipherable gutturals, rich bass guitar presence, and drums that sound a little more muffled than the thick guitar riffs. Come three minutes in, the guitar solo starts following a brief cleaner passage, allowing the drums a moment to really shine before the keyboards take over once again. But, overall, it is a beautiful piece full of melancholy with a decent amount of fantastical whimsy.
“Iron Saga” starts with more of a high sailing adventure theme, as well as the analog sounding guitars pulling right to the forefront. When the rest of the instruments kick in, that obvious bluntness is buried a bit, though a good amount of cleaned up leads and hooks are scattered about, as well as a lighter brief guitar solo just past the two minute mark that sets enough of an upbeat tone before caving to a darker, almost prophetic atmosphere as those seas become more dark and turbulent, all concluding on a much more violent note that is equally as melancholic and foreboding as the previous track. However, the EP actually wraps on a rendition of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg (though largely known by the general populas as one of the classic symphonies Trans-Siberian Orchetra recorded), and, for the most part, Vesperia does a good job at capturing the power the song holds. Beautiful technical guitar work, influxes of speed where necessary to have the most impact, and a mixture of dark yet powerful environments litter this timeless piece in a way one would not expect to come from a simple four-piece.
For fans of Vesperia, The Iron Tempests won’t really hold all that much of a surprise as far as what the band is able to accomplish musically, other than the rendition of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. However, for newcomers alike, it’s quite the eye opening experience. These three tracks don’t quite hold the power many leaders in the folk metal field have thanks to the aforementioned muffled elements on the instruments, but the analog quality does still help to make many of the atmospheres utilized to come to life, especially those of melancholy and depression. If you have yet to check out Vesperia, then you need to hear The Iron Tempests and become familiar with their sound before the inevitable third full-length drops as, if this recording is any indication of that one’s quality, that future endeavour will be one worth keeping on your radar.