Borealis – “Purgatory” (AFM Records)
Borealis are a young Canadian band who take in all my favorites from the past from the powerfully heartfelt vocals of Nightwish’s Roy Khan to the spiraling beauty of In Flames’s melodic twin guitars and the epic thundering rhythms of Nocturnal Rites and Mercenary! Recording their debut in 2008 while they were still teenagers straight outta high school, Borealis soon began opening for Epica and Sonata Arctica in their home of Ontario. Although initially employing a female opera style vocalist, Matt Marinelli has been ably handling this duty along with doubling up on guitars and what a gem he is too – gifted with a superb voice that comes across no better than on his duet with alt rock guest vocalist Sarah Dee on ‘From The Ashes’. Releasing their sophomore in 2011, Borealis soon got invitations to play festivals such as Prog Power in the US, culminating in a North American tour with Saxon, which is the biggest highlight in the band’s still young career so far. “Purgatory” superbly builds on this success, delivering an A class product capable of garnering them the international respect they clearly deserve. There is a wonderful atmosphere to the album as a whole, enveloping the listener completely in the deep compositions superbly played with heaps of passion throughout that never let go. Songs like ‘Rest My Child’ show the band’s confidence in taking delicate and tranquil pieces and skillfully building them up into powerful epics with virtuosic solos and then unleashing the power of double bass drumming to climatically finish with Marinelli’s soaring vocals accompanied by harmonies before ending with some delicate keys….awesome. Moreover, despite their inspirations, Borealis have a decidedly modern sound of their own like on the uplifting closer ‘Revelation’ with its futuristic keys, catchy Scandi guitar melodies and of course, Marinelli’s voice that puts the Romeo into any lover listening to this stylish and sexy song. Now signed to AFM Records, which on the face of it is an excellent strategic move to break the band out’ve the Canadian market, Borealis have another North American support tour already looming with Evergrey, and with “Purgatory”, look well on their way to future success!