One of the biggest up and coming bands on the progressive metal/melodic power metal scene is Canada's Borealis. The band signed with AFM Records a few years back with the release of 2015's "Purgatory," which was subsequently followed up by the re-recording of the debut album "World of Silence" in 2017.
Now in 2018, the band just dropped the 4th album entitled "The Offering," perhaps the band's stongest album to date (see CROM's review over here). The album marks a deviation from the band's past - resulting in a conceptual release about cults which was sparked from vocalist/guitarist Matt Marinelli's fascination of horror movies. The story centers around the rise and fall of a cult involved in human sacrifice, particularly child sacrifice.
CROM's Alanna Macron has a chance to delve into the concept of "The Offering" and love of cheesy horror morvies with Matt Marinelli, when the two recently spoke.
CROM: I listened to “The Offering” and I have to say that I am huge fan because I love things like cults and horror movies.
MM: Oh, wonderful. Well thank you so much.
CROM: What were your biggest inspirations for “The Offering”?
MM: Well, musically we always kind of draw from so many areas. It goes from things like Two Steps From Hell and Hans Zimmer; all the way to Evergrey, Symphony X; and we even did a little Amorphis type style and even Scar Symmetry. We have so many different interests in the band that we try to include everything when we write.
CROM: With the story too, did you have any particular inspirations for that?
MM: I think with the story, the whole thing kind of started when I watched this indie horror movie called “The Devil’s Hand” and after I watched it, I thought it was an interesting idea. So we took that idea of the cult and of the children sacrificed and we put like a fictional twist on it. Just because we didn’t want to use a real cult or anything religious like that can be very sensitive so we switched it to more of a fictional story so it’s not as spotlighted on one particular thing.
CROM: I found it kind of amusing that, I’m not sure if you have Hulu, but one of your songs is called “The Path” and that’s a show on Hulu about a cult.
MM: Oh, ok. Well, here in Canada we don’t really get a lot of Hulu shows so there’s a lot of Hulu shows that I haven’t seen.
CROM: It has Aaron Paul in it, he ends up becoming the leader of a cult. It’s pretty interesting. When I noticed that, it was like, “OH.”
MM: That’s pretty interesting. That’s just a coincidence though. That’s pretty cool though, I’ll check that out.
CROM: Yeah, if you can find a way to get it. So did you have personal experiences with cults or religious figures for this?
MM: No, for this one especially, there were not too many personal aspects. “Purgatory” had a little more personal aspects; but this one was one hundred percent fictional.
CROM: So with “Purgatory” and with “The Offering” they’re mostly focused on children. Was there any particular reason for that?
MM: I think we find something very creepy about the innocence of a child. I find you can make a story and take it more seriously when you have a child involved. I think if we sacrificed a grown adult it wouldn’t have the same effect and I’ve always had that shiver-type feeling when I think about something like that. It’s nothing that we would ever want to actually happen, but we find in the story telling point of view, it really has a lot stronger impact.
CROM: I’m thinking of the people that can watch other humans get killed off in movies or tv shows, but animal deaths get them more upset. Do you consider it something like that?
MM: Yeah, it’s similar to that. Definitely the same kind of idea for sure.
CROM: What came first for this album; was it the story or the music?
MM: For us, it’s always the story. We kind of have the story based on what we want to do and then we start writing the music to fit the story and then after that we think of vocal melodies and the lyrics are always the last thing we do because we want to make sure the lyrics fit the melodies. Because sometimes there are certain words and phrasing that just don’t work vocally when you’re trying to sing. So I found that was a lot easier to adapt the lyrics at the end, once we had all the vocal lines. Because for me, even to this day, I will hear people sing certain words that stand out so much because to me, it’s a word that doesn’t fit vocally so that’s what we tried to do with this one?
CROM: Do you notice that more now that you’re singing or is that something you’ve always noticed?
MM: I think more now that I have started singing. Before that, I never really paid attention to much to them, it was always guitar for me. Once I took the role of singing, everything kind of changed, I paid a lot more attention. Even to this day now, I pay way more attention to the vocalist of the bands than the instruments. I know before that, I was always focused on the guitar. The guitar was always the main thing for me, I was very big on Yngwie Malmsteen and just guitar driven music, and once I went into the lead vocalist position then everything kind of changed. Now, I’m all about vocalists, so that’s what I listen for now.
CROM: Was there any part of the story that particularly stuck with you, that you feel determined to emphasize or anything like that?
MM: There was. The one thing that we thought was a cool twist at the end of the album is that the children are the one who end up sacrificing the priest in the cult. And when the kids do that, it brings life back into the world. Even when you see the cover art, there’s a tree with cult members around it and the tree is very dead looking and it’s very dark and gloomy and on the back it’s the kids around the tree and the cult member is the one being sacrificed and you see the life coming back into the tree. So pretty much saying, what the cult members were doing is wrong.
CROM: Sounds about right.
MM: Yeah. *laughs*
CROM: So have you had this idea for a long time?
MM: It was probably about a year. I watched the movie and I started thinking about the concept and the idea and I told the guys because we’ve always been drawn to that dark atmosphere and I explained to the guys that I think it would be cool if we experimented into this sort of storyline and they all agreed. So we just pursued with that and there wasn’t a lot of confrontation or anything like that. I just told them what I thought and that this would be kind of cool and we just went with it.
CROM: Did the rest of the guys see the movie or was it just you?
MM: No, it was just me. I think I’m the only one with the strong love for horror movies.
CROM: Horror movies are awesome.
MM: Oh yeah.
CROM: I’m just a huge fan of horror and anything out of the norm.
MM: Oh yeah, ever since I was younger, I’ve loved all eras from the late 70s all the way up until now.
CROM: Any favorite movies?
MM: My all time favorite movie is Halloween. I’ve always been driven to that one but I love movies from like The Blair Witch Project, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th all the way to like the obscure 80s slashers like Slaughterhouse and Terror Train and all those kind of movies.
CROM: Have you ever seen Gingerdead Man?
MM: I did, I have all three actually.
CROM: My sister found it and was like, “WE NEED TO WATCH THIS” and I just thought, “Oh my god this is amazing.”
MM: Yes, and I think there’s like Passion of the Crust and Saturday Night Cleaver or something like that. But yeah, I own all three of those.
CROM: That is amazing. Cheesy horror is very entertaining.
MM: It is, because someone is creating this! Like they sat down and said, “This is what we’re doing. We’re getting a killer gingerbread cookie and Gary Busey is going to do the voice.”
CROM: You know that is definitely how it went down. There was no other choice but Gary Busey.
MM: No, exactly. He was the perfect person for it.
CROM: Do you think you’ll ever make a concept album based on that movie?
MM: Probably not. There are too many comical moments that I don’t think would fit in with our music style. Maybe as a side project!
CROM: You should totally do that! Would you ever do this type of concept again where you’ll base an album off a movie or a genre, in general?
MM: Yeah, I think, for me, it’s not like concepts are really original. So many bands do it but I just find it very enjoyable when you’re creating it because you get to create a story. I think because I love movies so much and books and stories, it’s just fun to create that. To create a world that’s make believe and you get to write music to that. So I think, for the future, we’re always going to have some sort of a concept just because it’s so enjoyable for us to do it.
CROM: So you feel that it’s more creative than just coming up with different songs and then putting those together in an album?
MM: I guess in a way, it’s slightly more creative, because you’re trying to fit all these songs into this concept but I think it’s just more out of enjoyment. Like I guarantee there’s some people in bands who don’t really like the concept idea and don’t enjoy doing it. For us, it’s a little different, we do enjoy doing it so I think because we enjoy it so much it’s why we’re going to continue doing it.
CROM: Well that’s good, as long as everyone is in agreement, right?
MM: Oh, exactly.
CROM: It’s really all that matters.
MM: Oh, it’s so true.
CROM: I think that’s about it from me. Well thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
MM: Oh of course, anytime. Thank you for doing this, I appreciate it.
CROM: I can’t wait to buy the album!
MM: Oh well, I appreciate the support! Thank you so much, it’s cool. The packaging is pretty neat so I think it’s a cool thing to own.
CROM: Yeah, I was looking at the album artwork thinking, “This is so cool.” Well, have a good night!
MM: You as well!