Review by Ryan on March 8, 2014.
I once burned a pair of mix CD's for a friend, one full of traditional metal and the other extreme metal. I explained the difference between the two as follows:
"This first disc is mostly good time music for drinking beers, lifting weights, and driving fast... just don't do all three at the same time. The second disc though? That will have your neighbors and family convinced that you've lost your mind and are about to lose your teeth and your job. Use it with extreme prejudice."
Borrowed Time is a band from that first category, and their self-titled debut is a reminder of why most of us got into metal in the first place. The music would probably annoy my parents, but it’s also fun, exuberant, and multi-faceted. Much like Count Raven or Slough Feg, this band recalls the best of traditional metal without directly ripping off any particular band. You will actually find yourself humming riffs and melodies long after the album stops spinning, and they will burn their own images into your mind, even if they do reference Jag Panzer, Warlord, Blitzkrieg, or Diamond Head.
Victor Ruiz and Matt Preston are two VERY potent guitarists. Preston is one of those virtuoso players who have the vital ability to wait his turn, hold back, and find just the right moments and notes that leave cinders where your ears used to be. Ruiz forms the perfect foil: a man who writes classic metal riffs in his sleep, and elicits an emotional response with each and every one.
J Priest is also very intriguing as a singer. His voice has more of a midrange quality than you typically hear in this style, and he compensates for this by employing quite a bit of nasal warble and some amount of production trickery. This might be a weakness in the hands of a lesser singer, but he has his own charisma and versatility, and he chooses the right melodies to match his abilities. Of equal importance are his lyrics, and the way they are immersed in symbolism, ritual, and a deep love and respect for the humanities. The man probably owns more books and movies than he has room for in his apartment.
This band has been around in one form or another for three years now, which is a decent gestation period for an album, and the progression from their early demos and singles to this recording shows a consistent and marked improvement in both songwriting and performance. Borrowed Time have made an album that great many traditional metal bands would be proud of, and though they’ve struggled quite a bit with lineup instability this is a thoroughly impressive first full length.
Full disclosure: I have known J. Priest and Victor Ruiz for many years, but this does not bias my opinion beyond the fact that they owe me beer money.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.8 out of 10