Borealis – Purgatory (AFM Records)

Tuesday, 7th July 2015
Rating: 9/10

The proliferation of bands in the ProgPower movement can be highly attributed to the Internet connectivity explosion over the past two decades. Message boards, websites, and chat rooms expanded awareness and spread knowledge to those near and far – eventually allowing musicians better festival slotting and organizing bigger and better touring opportunities. Canada’s Borealis benefit greatly through these promotional streams, leaping from Lion Music to AFM Records for the ever critical career juncture third studio platter Purgatory.

Impressing me greatly in a Savatage meets Evergrey manner on 2011’s Fall from Grace, the four year break between records has given the quintet an even more colorful nuance to their sharp, melodic power metal attack. Guitarist Matt Marinelli as a singer has a vibrant resonance full of passion and soul, bringing to mind the best of Zak Stevens for winning tracks like “Past the Veil” and “Destiny”, and even reaching Myles Kennedy/Lou Gramm territory on the acoustic, string-led ballad “Darkest Sin” or the sensitive “Rest My Child”.

Musically the guitar work certainly has more of a heavier vibe, encouraging those who love the catalogs of Mercenary and Soilwork to take a look see at Mike Briguglio and Matt’s twin wall of crushing chords and exciting sweep lead breaks during “My Peace” and “Welcome to Eternity”. Keyboardist Sean Werlick is no slouch at his instrument either- picking his spots to add his finger dance of flurry while keeping the sonic orchestration there for a brighter aural ambiance. The 12 songs on Purgatory seem tighter in structure – most in the sweet 4 to 4:30 minute spot as to get the idea on point, build it up, and move on to the next track – a lot of bands could learn from the ‘less is more’ principle.

Those who love latter day Nocturnal Rites, all phases of Evergrey, and even the heavier sides of Kamelot should know and purchase Purgatory – or suffer the consequences of damnation.

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