Since their debut, Tempest have been continuously running forward at a rather quick pace, with their fourth and latest EP releasing just a little after their first record. While their previous singles haven’t been the most consistent conceptually, the members’ strong ambition to become a force in the industry has always remained clear. With their achievements in the past year (various Rookie awards, first win on a music show, etc.), the group are slowly but surely making a name for themselves in the music scene. As they gain more recognition though, worries for Tempest’s success also grow.

Having entered the K-pop world when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its highest, and during a time when interest in rookie boy groups is noticeably lower than that of girl groups, this uneasiness is understandable despite the great potential that Tempest have. With that in mind, The Calm Before The Storm not only showcases the group’s unique colors, but is also meant to prove their worth amid a saturated industry. They compare their concerns and anxiety to a heavy rainstorm, but instead of being swept away by ferocious waves, the Tempest members persevere and even have fun under the rainfall.

This swirling narrative is best expressed in title track “Dangerous,” with the boys singing about their aspirations to become unpredictable artists that shake up the stage:

Let’s turn it all over, make a chaotic festival

No one ever surrender (come on, come on)

Devour the stage like a villain, feel so like a killer

You know the feeling

Yeah, I am so dangerous, dangerous

Baby, I love the feel inside

Shake the world, I can’t resist

You better watch out

Musically and visually, the upbeat dance track feels like a mix of the group’s earlier singles. Blending together the mischief of “Bad News,” the lighthearted sound of “Can’t Stop Shining,” and the powerful performance of “Dragon,” “Dangerous” is both familiar and fresh.

The high energy is maintained from start to finish with a packed instrumental filled with varied synths, lively percussion, diverse sound effects, and an addictive funky bass. Moreover, the punchy verses offer a nice contrast to the melodic chorus, giving notable spotlights to the septet’s rap and vocal skills. Each line is delivered with ample confidence and personality, and the members really embody the image of a calm presence in the midst of a chaotic storm.

B-side “Eye of the Storm” continues these free-spirited sentiments, and offers a corresponding message to the title track:

Eye of the storm for you

Leave you in the rhythm

Feel it, groove, so cool

Ice cold, fresh, at this moment

Shake it up, shake it up, right

The dance of my heart getting faster

Don’t cut me loose

Just give me that boost

Its first verse might frighten listeners who enjoy melodic lines away, but fortunately for them, the edgy dance song is fleshed out further during the pre-chorus before bursting into an imposing, vocal-centric chorus. The rap and vocal contrast is comparable to the framework of “Dangerous,” showcasing the group’s many talents. In this way, the number feels like a darker spin on the lead single with more prominent hip hop influences. And although it carries a different character from “Dangerous,” “Eye of the Storm” is just as fun and thrilling.

On the other hand, the opening verse of “Freak Show” aims straight for a bright and funky ambience. It’s a welcome return to Tempest’s playful roots, and the bouncy instrumental combined with the catchy topline makes the pop rock tune a cheerful and exciting experience. The vocal breakdown is especially tasteful, and helps build up even more exhilaration before the boys go out with a bang in the final chorus. While the rap in the second verse does weaken the momentum a bit, the song keeps energy levels high for the most part and is great at lifting up spirits of tired or dejected listeners.

“I’ll Be There,” the ending number of the album, is a warm mid-tempo pop ballad that’s perfect for the spring season. The track is fairly simple musically, with guitar and piano standing out the most in the instrumental, but its easygoing melody allows more focus on the members’ smooth vocals. They have unique and interesting vocal colors, so it’s a nice opportunity to appreciate how pleasant their voices sound alongside some light harmonies.

Overall, the album title The Calm Before The Storm is a fitting descriptor for Tempest’s current position—an idol group with immense potential who are seemingly ready to form a bigger storm in the K-pop scene. Aside from outlier “Dragon,” much of their music has been extremely vibrant and very easy to listen to. If the group continue running down this path, shaping a musical identity of their own, their future looks incredibly bright.

(MBN Star. ETNews. Korea JoongAng Daily. YouTube [1][2]. Lyrics via Genius [1][2]. Images via Yuehua Entertainment.)