Released By: AFM Records
Release date: October 7, 2022
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Matt Marinelli – Vocals, Guitars
Ken Fobert – Guitars
Aiden Watkinson – Bass
Sean Dowell – Drums
List of tracks:
2. Ashes turn to rain
3. My Fortress
4. Pray for water
5. Burning Tears
8. Face of Reality
9. Bury Me Alive
10. Abandon all hope
11. The Phantom Silence
Power metal is generally known to be on the fun and upbeat side of the spectrum, when it comes to metal. It doesn’t always have to be, as it can sometimes get dark, atmospheric, or even a bit sad. One band that falls into this side of the genre is Canadian band Borealis, who I’ve been following since releasing their second full album, Fall From Grace, in 2011. Their sound has evolved quite subtly, but steadily over the years. the latest releases, all leading up to their fifth and final full release, Illusions, which is their most complex and epic release to date, as well as probably their best!
As mentioned above, Borealis’ music falls on the darker side of the genre, somewhat along the lines of Evergrey, although they are generally a bit punchier and more energetic than the Swedish band, sometimes approaching the heaviness of Symphony X, especially on their previous albums. They started out as a power metal band, with fairly minor prog elements, but over their last few albums they’ve become more and more of a prog/power band, to the point that I would even say the elements of prog took over and became the main focus, while the power metal elements were still there, but not as dominant as before. I found their second album Fall from Grace to be a little strange in their discography, although it was my favorite, as it was by far the most guitar-driven, hard-hitting and straightforward album. they have done to date, despite excellent melodies and strong choruses. With their third album, Purgatory, the band began to dabble in the brand of modern, melodic prog/power metal they play today, and they continued to build on that sound steadily, with Illusions feeling as the next step in their evolution.
Their previous album, The Offering, pushed me a bit, in the sense that I wasn’t too impressed at first, but over time I ended up liking it a lot. That’s not so much the case with Illusions, which I already enjoyed a lot on my first listen, although it only got better with each listen. Stylistically, it’s on the same territory as The Offer, with an emphasis on big melodies, powerful choruses, lots of moods and dark atmosphere, as well as increased use of symphonic elements, which sometimes evoke Serenity, with what scale and the arrangements can go up on certain tracks. At the same time, I find the music a little heavier here than on The Offering, and there are explosive power metal sections, especially on tracks like “Believer” and “Light of the Sun.”
The musicians all do a great job as always, with certain riffs and melodic guitar solos in particular being excellent and strongly evoking Evergrey, while the production is top notch. Perhaps the album’s greatest highlight, however, is Matt Marinelli’s vocals, whose delivery falls somewhere between the gruff, powerful vocals of Russell Allen and the airier, softer, and deeply emotional vocals of Tom S. .England. He does a great job throughout the album, especially on the choruses, and he’s one of the main driving forces behind the songs.
As is often the case, the one area where The Offer took a long time to grow on me was the songwriting, which I found a bit inconsistent at first. Over time, I ended up enjoying the majority of the album, although some tracks weren’t as strong as others. Illusions, however, is excellent from start to finish, with a few particular bits that hit me harder than others, but there are definitely no weak bits to be found here. After a brief but very nice intro track with beautiful singing vocals from Christine Hals, the opening track “Ashes Turn to Rain” kicks off the album in style. It’s a rather epic, slow-building track where the symphonic elements immediately kick in, accompanied by some crisp guitar riffs, which give way to an intense opening verse before everything settles in for a very beautiful melodic chorus, where Marinelli’s voice shines. It’s a fairly laid-back track overall, with bursts of heaviness, enhanced by excellent melodies, symphonic arrangements and a powerful chorus.
Next is “My Fortress,” where the melodic guitars are instantly reminiscent of Evergrey, except with a slightly lighter tone. It’s a medium-paced, very melodic track with a slightly upbeat feel, and it has nice crisp riffs, to go along with the excellent vocals, another fantastic chorus, and a stunning guitar solo towards the end. It’s a great track overall, and probably my favorite from the first part of the album. Next is the first single “Pray for Water”, a slightly simpler and very melodic track with another excellent chorus, as well as a very cinematic feel to the symphonic arrangements. It’s a little lighter than the previous tracks, while having a slight advantage over the guitars. It’s the kind of track that’s pretty solid on its own, but fits really well into the full album and gives a good idea of what to expect from the band.
There are two ballads on the album, the first of which is “Burning Tears”, a very smooth track, with light guitar work and very nice ambient synths, performed by guest musician Vikram Shankar, who is also responsible for all orchestral arrangements throughout the album. It’s a really good track overall, with a great chorus, as well as great vocals, both from Marinelli and guest singer Lynsey Ward, that fit in perfectly and make a great duo partner.
The tempo picks up considerably with “Believer”, the first track where the power metal elements begin to shine. It starts explosively, with very heavy riffs and intense drums, moving at a dazzling pace during the opening, before slowing down for the verses, which are more atmospheric and relaxed, giving way to a rather dark chorus, but still very melodic and beautiful. The track does a great job of alternating between slow and fast sections, with some of the instrumental parts being quite intense, while the vocal parts are generally calmer and more relaxed. It’s one of my favorites on the album, although it’s immediately topped by “Light of the Sun”, a track that almost sounds like the polar opposite, starting off quite slow and relaxed, with symphonic arrangements epic sounds that instantly evoke Serenity, and while it remains fairly quiet during the opening verse, the chorus is probably the heaviest, fastest and most intense sequence on the entire album, while still being as catchy and catchy as ever. melodic. The intensity is maintained throughout, with the second half in particular being fantastic. The track has some of the best guitar work on the entire album, as well as some rather flashy synths at times, and while the chorus itself is already great, the instrumental parts help make it my favorite on the album. album.
Unsurprisingly, things calm down again with “Face of Reality”, the album’s second ballad. It’s more of a power ballad, with bursts of heaviness here and there, though it stays fairly slow and calm throughout, with great melodic guitars, powerful vocals and yet another great chorus, as well as an excellent solo in the second half. Next comes “Bury Me Alive”, another more upbeat track, with catchy keys, heavy riffs and a nice melodic chorus. It doesn’t quite reach the intensity of ‘Believer’ or ‘Light of the Sun’, but it’s a very fun track overall, with great instrumental work and a strong chorus. Next is “Abandon Hope,” which alternates nicely between heavy and quiet sections, with great melodic guitar work throughout. I don’t find it as memorable as some of the other tracks in the second half, but it’s a great track overall.
Closing the album is the 11-minute epic “The Phantom Silence”, the sort of epic, slow-building track one would expect from a track of this length, although instead of being Divided into several parts, it just looks like a pretty single track piece, which happens to have an extended instrumental section in the middle and beginning. It is, however, a very epic track, with the symphonic arrangements being by far the best on the album, while the guitars are generally more relaxed, with quick bursts of heaviness here and there. The vocals are a definite highlight, with both lead and supporting vocals being fantastic, and the chorus being one of the strongest on the album. While it’s not as intricate as one might expect from an epic track, there’s still quite a bit going on, and it stays fresh and engaging throughout, without ever feeling as long as it does. it is (in fact, I’m still amazed at how quickly it goes.) It’s a great track overall, and it closes the album perfectly.
I didn’t have the highest expectations for Illusions, as I wasn’t initially too impressed with some of the band’s previous work, but over time, their previous album The Offering grew on me a lot, and I can safe to say that this album takes everything that worked on this album and pushes it further, the epic symphonic arrangements being more impressive than ever, while the contrast between heavy guitars, beautiful melodies and excellent vocals remains as impressive as ever. Borealis have proven to be one of the most consistent bands when it comes to producing excellent dark power/prog metal, and this album is no exception, being perhaps their best work to date. Long-time fans should be very pleased with this album, and newcomers are highly recommended to get started with this album.
Written by: travis green
My overall mind – Personal editor
Travis Green is a Canadian writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest in metal in all its forms.