Borealis - Purgatory
AFM Records
Power Progressive Metal
11 songs (53:00)
Release year: 2015
Borealis, AFM Records
Reviewed by Joel
Canada’s Borealis last disc, Fall From Grace came out four years ago, and caught me by surprise. Without knowing where the band was from, you would have thought somewhere in Europe, possibly Sweden or even Finland/Norway. With a twin guitar attack, a solid rhythm foundation, and emotive vocals, Borealis has all the signature parts needed for a solid Power Metal band, with Purgatory do they succeed?

After the first forty seconds of ambient effects comes, Past The Veil. The huge guitar riffs, accompanied by the layers of strings and eventually piano, Borealis sound even more epic then they have before. A mix of heavy riffs, emotive vocals, they have a bit of grit in them which works as a dynamic. A good comparison for Matt Marinelli’s vocals would be with what Russell Allen does with Symphony X. The guitar solo is well played in the last third of the song, with a stop and go rhythm behind it, before leading back in the chorus. From The Ashes features Sean Werlick’s keyboards and the precision drumming of Sean Dowell before the riff fest of the previously heard song, returns. While both songs have a similar style and aggression, they are completely different. Female vocals are heard as well, I do not know who she is, but she has a very strong and melodic voice as well. My previous comparison, now is related to the opening riff, with a heavy stop and go guitar riff, before it returns to power chords and layers of strings behind it. The rest of the song switches off between the groove riffs and straight ahead power metal. At just under three and a half minutes, the somber and melancholic Darkest Sin is next. Marnelli shows the strength in his vocals, over a simple clean guitar melody. Nothing technical musically here, just full emotion. My Peace was the first song I heard well before I got my copy of Purgatory, and right away I was hooked. I listened to it several times, and it is still one of my favorite songs by them. A mixture of melody, grooves, dynamics, technical musicianship, and one hell of a chorus makes this my highlight of the entire disc.

Place of Darkness and Welcome To Eternity, are again mixes of grooves, straight ahead riffs, and amazing musicianship. Though a lot of the songs have a similar structure at this point and beyond, somehow Borealis keeps the music fresh from song to song. That in itself is the highest compliment I can give, because over the course of twelve songs that can be difficult. The very melodic and straight ahead riffing of Sacrifice are next, and the accented strings in the background, really add something to the song. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I love the guitar tone of this band, and the tasteful keyboard playing, especially the synth lead featured on this song! The band takes another step back from all the fury, with the emotional Rest My Child. With lyrics that speak for themselves(I will not ruin it, by quoting them), and Marinelli’s delivery which is equal parts somber and powerful. A true modern power ballad done correctly, all without the cliches that normally trap a song like this. The words “Holy” and “Shit” were the first two words out my mouth, when the guitar solo kicked, that tone is great(so is the solo itself!). The outro of the song speeds up the intensity of the song, but acts more as closure to the lyrics, and allows the song to come done from its climatic solo. The title track is symphonic, progressive, and all the adjectives I previously used to describe some of the other songs. The final track, Revelation is different, a more straight ahead song, that is melodic and powerful. Some great riffing building upon a lead guitar motif heard at different parts of the song to break up the mainly power chord driven riffs.

A modern Progressive Power Metal album should sound like this. There are no fantasy lyrics, or songs of wars fought, but songs built and fueled by emotions. If your looking for Power Metal that is firmly stuck in reality, and pulls on the strings of emotive songwriting, then Borealis’s Purgatory could be for you. A bit Progressive, a lot of Power Metal and symphonic, easily out does everything the band has done before. Look for them on tour in the US this fall with the mighty Evergrey and Voyager.
Killing Songs :
I really liked them all
Joel quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Borealis that we have reviewed:
Borealis - World Of Silence reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
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