Borealis – “The Offering” (AFM Records)
Oh wow, talk about an awesome sound! Indeed, after re-recording their albums “World Of Silence” and “Fall From Grace” last year, this magnificent song crafting has been put to great effect on this brand new 4th album. If you’re a fan of Evergrey or Kamelot, you’ll definitely find affinity to the 12 incredible songs on show here! A Canadian prog / power metal band, Borealis were formed in 2008 and in that short time, have established themselves as a name internationally having supported Epica, Sonata Artica and Saxon as well as playing festivals such as Prog Power USA – not bad at all for a band still in their youth. What makes Borealis so special is their talent to compose material blending incredible melodies with lush passionate soundscapes, along with a measure of technicality and all set against a very heavy backdrop indeed! From Matt Marinelli’s passionate vocals with a hint of macho gravel to Sean Werlick’s incredibly atmospheric keyboards, the uplifting energy of the material here – despite the album’s dark concept – cannot be praised enough. But it doesn’t stop there with drummer Sean Dowell’s double bass drum rolls – not to mention his sterling production and mixing of this album that really does true justice sound wise to the excellent songs on show here. Of course, the best is saved till last and that’s the awesome guitar work of Marinelli and Ken Fobert, unashamedly expressive in emotion, skilfully using acoustics while dropping in technicality when its needed, and certainly not holding back on the heaviness whatsoever – that this is in fact a heavy album is why I like it so much ha ha! From the overflowing passionate of ‘River’ which bursts with emotion, heavy drum work and guitars while contrasted superbly by Werlick’s soothing keys and Marinelli’s soaring vocals, the slowing building power of the ballad ‘Scarlet Angel’ hits home like an arrow through its powering chorus, resplendent with incredibly passionate dual male / female harmonies and stellar guitar work. Bringing it all together and ending the album in a superb climax was ‘The Ghosts Of Innocence’, with its heavy riffs contrasting magnificently with the multiple vocal sounds, flowing orchestrals and oozing with passion throughout its 9 minutes of ecstasy. Simply beautiful music and an absolute listening pleasure from start to finish, “The Offering” has already made its mark on me as one of this year’s best albums.