Think a while on what charasteristic you would like to see on a great power metal album.
Good, crisp and epic production? Great singing? Catchy riffs, songs that galllop fast as well as include a great ballad or two? Varied, sing-along-worthy songs, a cover based on a rather abstract concept and a taste of traditional heavy metal instead of “role-playing power metal”?
In that case – Canadian rockers BOREALIS and their sophomore album “Purgatory” may very well be the answer to all your wishes, as it ticks all these boxes over a spread of 12 excellent tracks. Just as with the excellent debut “Fall From Grace“, the songs draw inspiration from humankind rather than fiction or fantasy, and just as with the debut it is presented in a more or less than flawless way. BOREALIS (the name stems from part of the latin word for the godess of morning lig, meaning “northern” and most commonly used for describing what we in Sweden call “norrsken”) may still a bit of a secret gem, but given the bands quality that is about to change. “Purgatory” is actually a better effort than “Fall From Grace”, especially from an album point of view. It fits together like an expensive car, with all the pieces built and placed with purpose.
The band may look like you averae neighbour nerd in the promopics, but they play the bejeesus out of a majority of the other power metal acts out there. And they also have a special weapon in singer/guitarist Matt Marinelli’s voice, it is gold. With a production that centers on his singing, it becomes tha beacon of light that provides contrast to the emotional and darker playing provided by Sean Werlicks keyboards and Michael Briguglios guitar. Songs like ballad Rest My Child or epic My Peace are evene better for it, and given the solid and pumpin’ drive of bassist Jamie Smith & drummer Sean Dowell this is also carried into the faster tracks like openers Past The Veil and From The Ashes.
A note probably also have to be made, a note regarding the “power metal”-label that have been made through a sticker on the front of my album, as well in this review: it is a bit of a lie. At least to my ears, “Purgatory” have less in common with power metal “classics” like BLIND GUARDIAN, HELLOWEEN or RIOT then they do with acts balancing on traditional heavy metal/progressive ledge. Think SYMPHONY X and EVERGREY if you’re after references. Best thing though? Listen. Facts are – BOREALIS is a name to be reckoned with, and this band will make it big time. You’re invited to join the journey!
Grade stops at 4 out of 5, with a taste for more. As ridicilous as it sounds, I’d require a track or two with even more classic hit potential to go for the top grade. As it stands now, no track falls out of the frame and all of them are good songs – but I’d really like that killer song, that utter and clear number one of the album that stands out like lightning (without the rest of the songs loosing any quality, obviously). It’s a bit like complaining that you have to many 20-notes in the wallet and wish for one of them to be 100-note though. Rich man’s problems…
BOREALIS “Purgatory” = 4/5. Very Good. You need this album!