Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Borrowed Time - Borrowed Time (2013) | 91%

Superb album art done by Shagrat of Acid Witch, it reminds me of Running Wild a little.

More sand in the diamond encrusted hourglass

"The past and present are but one component”

Detroit, such a desolate wasteland, money did ravages there and Nicklas Lidstrom retired,  what's left to enjoy? The new album of Eminem? Well, the Tigers and the Lions are pretty good... But screw sports, we're here for metal, right? Concerning that music style, Borrowed Time is there for y'all. Formed in the year of the shark 2010, the American band released a bunch of demos, splits and extended plays before this year, the year metal traditionalists were expecting, the year they finally released their first full length. This self titled album is perhaps the best debut album heavy metal has seen since...Well, I don't know, since a while at least!

I really discovered them in 2012 when they played in Montréal for the first time alongside Cauchemar, Demontage, Occultation and Metalian (what an amazing lineup!). I knew the name but I had yet to listen to them and I was utterly pleased with their performance. I had high expectations for their first album and I'm absolutely not disappointed by the outcome.

Led by Jean-Pierre Abboud, the only constant member of the lineup, his silky falsettos are of the purest heavy traditions and they're certainly in the major league. His delivery is pristine, subtle and powerful. He's able to mix emotional and almost romantic intonations like on “Dawn for the Glory Rider” and he really shines on “Of Nymph and Nihil”, a balladesque track and perhaps the best song released in 2013 (yes, believe me.). He's also using a rougher voice from time to time to indicate you're not listening to a HammerFallesque cheesefest. J-P is more charismatic than skilled even though he has chops, he's no Harry Conklin but who really is at his level?

This band has one of the best lyrical and artistic approach the genre has to offer. The lyrics are about as deep and well written as you can read from a band taking its inspiration from fantasy and literature. They owe that to Manilla Road, a band that everyone worthy should at least worship a little, Borrowed Time definitely do, they covered the classic “Necropolis” on their demo to prove their adherence to the Road club. The great cover art represents the band very well, it shows a certain distinction and intellectualism that isn't much present in most metal genres. Don't think I spit on metal, I do like unsubtle stuff like “Painkiller”, it's encompassing the passion and primal energy of the music but I always had an inclination for truly well written and researched lyrics, somewhat like Virgin Steele did with their exhaustive conceptual albums. Borrowed Time are not quite there yet but it's way more interesting than singing about tits and bikes all the time. I mean, hell, we know it's cool, no need to prove you can party all night long and can withstand a night of hard boning with groupies. 

Music wise, the band runs a very tight ship. It's full of solos, great bass lines and energy. Victor Ruiz and Matt Preston are great guitarists and their leads are efficient and even if they're numerous, they don't feel like they're all over the place. The album is as intricate as its cover art, full of little details that you'll be able to hear even after your fifth or sixth hearing. Mixed up with a knack for mysticism, the music is heavy but it also can be joyous at times like “Pygmalion” with its catchy vocals. The album is composed of nine tracks but two of them are short one minutes interludes that serve as segues into the next songs like “Dark Hearted...” which is an introduction for “Libertine”. To be honest, it's not the best composition for a track-list, it doesn't quite affect the cohesion that much but it's  cluttering the album. They don't really fit into the next songs themselves since they're instrumental and would lead to the longer songs being longer and boring. Outside of these unnecessary but still pretty good short tracks, the band delivers three very epic songs from six to seven minutes and they're very apt at building interesting tempos and atmospheres like on the great closer “A Titan's Chain”. This last track has some pacing issues near the middle but that's something easily fixed with some experience, it's after all their debut album.

The influence of the beloved NWOBHM, a scene that is now trendy in the underground is obvious. Plenty of bands are getting back together to play festivals such as Keep It True and Muskelrock or even release great comeback albums like Satan did this year with “Life Sentence”. This return to the roots is a good thing since most of the bands are decent but we're already starting to to scrape the barrel. Borrowed Time takes its influence from the epic branch of the British scene with bands like Cloven Hoof, Elixir or the long tracks Iron Maiden is well known for. Nonetheless, the band is still American, taking inspiration from the fantasy inclined cult bands like Longings Past. I think epicness could be a feature that they could expand, but in the meantime, they both nail the fast, heavy tracks like “The Thaumaturgist” and the epic ones.

Perhaps not as good and adventurous as In Solitude's new album “Sister”, “Borrowed Time”, while conservative, does everything right. It wasn't a rushed album, the band took its time. The production is way better than on their other releases and it helped the band in its noble quest.

To my dismay, I've read probably what is the worst review I've ever read on a “professional” website. A review written by a random girl on Metal Temple, it compared Borrowed Time's sound to Van Halen and King Diamond and made Metalocalypse jokes. Huuur. A lot of people don't seem to grasp what traditional metal is and should be. The fact this website employs such terrible reviewers is quite bad for the scene. Everyone can write such bullshit on the internet, creating inaccuracies and spreading awful and wrong information. What I tried to accomplish with this rant? Maybe asserting that heavy metal is now perhaps a niche more than ever and it has to face the incomprehension of modern metal fans who are clueless on its origins and its developments and drench in mediocrity.

“What will be? Tell me great vizier”

...The future of American traditional metal, their sound represents the evolution of the genre and even though it doesn't have the “oh my god, we have bell bottoms and weird hats!” sound of the vintage rock/metal revival nor the characteristic sleek and tasteless sound of many heavy/power bands signed on major labels who don't give a fuck about honesty and are trend surfers. Alongside bands like Dawnbringer or newcomers Eternal Champion, Borrowed Time delivers pure metal with a flair for emotions of the highest instance. They do it with ease and carefulness and they'll harvest the fruits of their labour.

Essential. Don't borrow it, buy it.

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