Borealis Purgatory 01Ever since I first rode side-by-side with Tom Englund above the crowd of an old Cajun-themed bar in Scottsdale, Arizona, I’ve been one of the biggest Evergrey fanboys ever. I’ve followed along for years as they powered their way through thick and (sadly) thin. Though I was ecstatic about the return of a couple significant members, I was a little let done by Hymns for the Broken. Though it’s enjoyable and it still gets regular playing time in my “mom car” during commutes to work, my craving for melodic metal – as only Evergrey can deliver – hasn’t been quenched in some time. And then a very pleasant commenter on my Unleash the Archers review asked why I chose that Canadian metal band over Borealis. Looking through Borelias‘ discography and discovering their similarities to my beloved melodic Swedes, I immediately begun digging through the landfill of promos collecting flies out back of the AMG offices. And behold! I found Borealis‘ 2015 release, Purgatory (you’re welcome, itsmydamnation). But can Purgatory bring about the Niagara Falls of sadness I so desire?

Borealis blew in from Canada back in 2005 and dropped their respectable self-release, World of Silence in 2008. With many moments of Evergrey (as found in all Borealis releases), their debut also had a decent grounding in classic power metal. Not amazing, but a strong beginning for the band. However, 2011’s Fall from Grace found them improving on all fronts; songwriting, vocals, production, and an overall honing of an Evergrey-meets-Symphony X approach. Using Matt Marinelli’s pipes as a vocal point (with his much improved mix of Englund and Russell Allen), the band took their sound to the next level and delivered a more mature and focused release. Now in 2015, Borealis delivers a new outing on par with it’s predecessor. Neither taking a massive leap forward or backward from Fall from Grace, Purgatory inches just a caterpillar’s length beyond in riffs, performance, fluidity, and bombacity.

Purgatory kicks off with a stellar slab of melodic power metal that would sut well as an opener for any Evergrey release. “Past the Veil” delivers an emotional chorus, chugging riffs, synthy atmospheres, and a heart-felt guitar solo three-quarters of the way through. This pretty much sums up the direction taken throughout Purgatory, but with three slightly different deliveries: over-the-top heavy (“Destiny,” “Welcome to Eternity,” and “Purgatory”), Symphony X-esque ballads (“Darkest Sin” and “Rest My Child”), and the in-between (“From the Ashes” and “Revelation”). On top of these basic structures, you can find other elements interspersed; the thick synth orchestrations in the catchy-as-hell “From the Ashes” (with its addictive female-male duet), the beautiful piano work in “Destiny,” the cheesy keyboard noodling in “My Peace,” and the hooky Nightwish keyboard intro of “Revelation.”

Borealis Purgatory 02

On the heavier side, “Welcome to Eternity” employs Iced Earth gallops to drive the power-metal pony forward, and Marinelli gets rough with some Stu Block-ish histrionics. The title track, on the other hand, looks to the other end of the spectrum and uses a chugging Evergrey introduction and a Symphony X core as Marinelli head-butts you with his spot-on Russell Allen impersonation. For softer ditties, Borealis drops a couple ballads that act almost like a “Part I” and “Part II” duo in Purgatory‘s track list. “Darkest Sin” and “Rest My Child” utilize Symphony X deliveries reminiscent of “The Odyssey,” “Paradise Lost,” and “When All Is Lost” to break up the pace of the album and summon eye leakage.

Unfortunately, after multiple listens, it becomes apparent that Purgatory is a couple tracks too long. Eliminating sub-par songs like “The Chosen One” and the way-too-Symphony X “Place of Darkness” would make it near perfect in runtime and flow (much like the conciseness of Fall from Grace). Regardless, this album is very good and the band have gone even farther in honing their style (even if it sounds like someone else). Get ready, Hymns for the Broken. I just found you a carpooling buddy.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM 

  • ZEbyiUWvbe

    Just wanted to mention here that that is a really beautiful cover.
    That is all.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Yes. It’s probably not, but it almost looks like a screen capture from an animated movie. Nice use of Hogarth’s Line of Beauty.

  • BaboonKing

    Fall from Grace didn’t do it for me, and the linked song isn’t doing much to change my opinion. They sound flat and predictable, and the sterile and overcompressed production doesn’t help one bit. That said, I’ll give the album a chance.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I respect that. Keep in mind, I’m a sucker for this shit. Give the album a try. There are a few twists that Fall from Grave lacked.

    • kaeru92

      Agreed, I thought the preview sounded really thin.

  • Oh man, I had no idea these guys had a new album due. Fall From Grace was actually one of my top 10 albums of 2011. It was one of the few power metal albums in the last 5 years that didn’t absolutely bore me! Hopefully I like this better than the Dr did!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      My guess is you will! I enjoy it quite muchly so you should be gold.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Exactly. It needed just a little more to be standout awesome.

  • Celaeno

    I like the embedded song. Will have to give the rest a whirl! Kudos for bringing this to the Doc’s attention! Good review.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Is it wrong if I see a bit of Rapture in here? Just asking.

  • JL

    Yea I listened to this album twice and sadly nothing really sticks out. It was enjoyable for a car ride but doesn’t have much staying power. On an unrelated note, the new Amiensus record is pretty smashing…

  • Tanuki

    Great to find an Evergrey replacement. Lets face it, they’re never going to make another album on the same level as the inner circle. I have to say though the drums (esp the toms) at the start of the embedded track are awful. They sound exactly like a set of v-drums. I’m guessing they probably are…

  • sir_c

    It is not bad music but I agree with the others who have said there are few memorable parts. It hardly stands out and I would be bored after two, three spins.
    I believe the author has already mentioned the best listening place: during commutes to work.

  • Kreegwaldo

    It still amazes me how much good shit there is out there that I’ve never heard of. Thankfully you guys uncover these gems for me!

    I’ve been basically chain running Fall from Grace since reading this article ( mixed with Obsequiae of course ) and fuck, this is some good shit. I’ve gone as far as finding out the lyrics and trying ( and failing ) to sing along. These guys voice is amazing – it’s not-quite-Allen and makes me desperately want to be able to sing like this.

    Sorry neighbours, you can blame the good Dr ( and Borealis )

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yeah, this was a great find. I’m still listening to this album. Which is no good because I need to be listening to others!