Borealis - Purgatory - (9/10)
Published on July 25, 2015
The Canadian metal scene is growing leaps and bounds with a lot of fairly young acts erupting all over the place and especially in the power metal circles there is a lot of highly interesting talent vying for prime spots, while staying away from the usual cliches. With Viathyn, Edge of Attack, Unleash the Archers, Striker and Eclipse Prophecy there are plenty of bands that are quickly transforming Canada into a veritable powerhouse and no list like this would be complete without Orangeville, Ontario’s Borealis, who are just offering up their third album Purgatory to the parched masses.
And one particular corner of these masses is going to be salivating their heads off upon hearing what these five Canadians have on offer and that is the fans of Swedish Evergrey that have been missing that special spark of In Search of Truth, because Borealis are getting pretty close to capturing the same kind of atmosphere without ever coming close to even remotely being considered a copycat of some sorts. Borealis’ roots rather lay more in power metal than progressive metal and the modern touch in the riffing that pops up here and there furthers the differences.
The Canadians build up this intense and dark atmosphere that threads through the songs and together with Matt Marinelli’s vocal delivery gives everything this darker touch that invokes the spirit of Evergrey’s masterpiece and brings it into the year 2015. “Past the Veil” sums things up excellently and gives a very good overview of what Borealis are about, riffing that touches on modern here and there, a very well integrated keyboard that never pushes to the fore and Marinelli that has this a little darker and rougher delivery that lends a bit of edge and a lot of emotion to the mix and rounds off the band’s sound. While he doesn’t quite sound as desperate as Englund sometimes does, he very nicely differs from the average singer.
This darker atmosphere embedded into a more power metal leaning framework gives Borealis this fairly unique character, which drives a “From the Ashes” forward, where guest singer Sarah Dee, an alternative singer/songwriter, adds her talents to one of the album’s best tracks, with great dynamics and this deep kind of catchiness that will have you come back again and again. While the keyboard plays a fairly important role in the Canadians’ sound, it never takes over and plays an important part in creating the atmosphere, be it as traditional keyboard sound or as piano.
“Darkest Sin” is a beautiful acoustic ballad that is nowhere near a campfire feeling or sappiness, something that they successfully repeat with “Rest My Child” that shows some nice heaviness towards the end as well. But no matter, if calm or more filigree yet widescreen, like on “Sacrifice” or crunchier and borderline symphonic (“Purgatory”), Borealis manage to keep a remarkably high overall level of quality that despite its quite varied approach remains cohesive and making Purgatory such a great album in the end.
Purgatory is further proof that Canada is on its way to take the metal Olympus by storm and Borealis’ third has the potential to appeal to a wide variety of fans without openly chumming up with any fancamp. And as mentioned above, especially if you are into In Search of Truth by Evergrey, check this out by all means. One of power metal’s best of 2015, so much is for sure!