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Borealis - Illusions Award winner

by Fred “Cage” Bonanno at 28 November 2022, 2:45 PM

With the release on October 7, 2022 of their fifth full length studio album, ”Illusions” Canadian melodic metallers BOREALIS feel that this is their most complete album to date. The past three years of the pandemic shutdown gave them extra time in the studio “we feel like these are some of the best songs we’ve ever written. Some of the songs were written way back in 2019 so we’ve had time to really perfect them” says drummer Sean McDowell who also engineered and mixed the album. Formed in 2005 with a female opera-style singer before Matt Marinelli took over as full-time lead singer and self-releasing their debut album in 2008 “World of Silence” and adding more orchestral elements and darker themes of the 2018 release of “The Offering” taking the band to the “next level” After more than four years, ”Illusions” marks the anticipated return. As Marinelli explains about the latest effort, as a continuation of the story from “The Offering” but takes place years later through the eyes of the children and how the traumatic events they experienced has shaped their lives. The band also introduced Composer and multi-instrumentalist Vikram Shankar (SILENT SKIES, REDEMPTION, LUX TERMINUS) to compose all of the orchestra and synth elements for the album.

Opening with an appetizing, brief (1:22) futuristic instrumental on “Illusions” of strings and angelic vocal backdrop, a nice set up for the second track “Ashes to Rain”, continues with orchestral strings and synchs effortlessly transitioning to celestial vocals meshing with heavy guitar riffs and captivating harmonizing giving way to a mysterious atmosphere of where this album may be  headed. I am curious to see if they will continue on to a heavier, darker sound than on previous albums. I was blown away by “Burning Tears”, an amazing apocalyptical journey perfectly blended with Lynsey Ward (EXPLORING BIRDSONG) and her haunting hypnotic vocals, this sublime, angelic song delivers a heightened level of passion and intensity over symphonic framework building to an almost super natural explosion of emotions. “The Sunrise The fire is burning I can see the leaves fall I am alone inside reach out My tears keep on falling I look into the dark sky The Devils hand is mine I will hold on to the life that I remember Take me home Tonight” The album ends with “The Phantom Silence”, which is over eleven minutes long, but never lost me in the song’s length. Truly magnificent, produced with paralyzing, rocking riffs, voracious vocals coupled with bewitching backing harmonies.

Like a great novel that once you pick up, you can’t put it down till the end, that’s the best way I can describe “Illusions”. A true gem of an album, from start to finish. Every song had me on edge of my proverbial “rock n roll seat” with a flamboyant whirlwind of darkened, different melodies spewed throughout the album, the vocals are beyond brilliant, the orchestration is perfectly placed and balanced, the guitar word is magnificent but not necessarily the “main instrument” and lyrically, they are intellect-driven and creative. Put this album on the CD player or turntable, turn off the lights and get lost in a mind-blowing experience.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability:  10
Production : 10

5 Star Rating

1. Illusions
2. Ashes Turn to Rain
3. My Fortress
4. Pray for Water
5. Burning Tears
6. Believe
7. Light of the Sun
8. Face of Reality
9. Bury Me Alive
10. Abandon All Hope
11. The Phantom Silence
Matt Marinelli - vocals, guitar
Ken Fobert - guitar
Aiden Watkinson - bass
Sean McDowell - drums
Record Label: AFM Records


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