Traveler, White Magician, Demon Bitch – these are all great and unique bands that show various different facets of the modern heavy metal revival movement (the NWOTHM as some call it). All of these acts are composed of talented musicians that produce high quality music, although several of the members in these bands were united at one point with the lesser known Borrowed Time.
Borrowed Time are one of the many names that began popping up in the early 2010s as the traditional metal revival began to take hold. Based in Detroit, they were a sort of sister band and touring buddies of Demon Bitch. After a small run of demos and EPs, they released their self-titled debut in 2013 and promptly disbanded to pursue other musical projects. The band most notably featured vocalist Jean-Pierre Abboud aka JP who went on to belt out Halford-esque screams on Traveler and explore Conan mythology with Gatekeeper as well as drummer Sam Ceckowski (Demon Bitch, White Magician).
Musically, Borrowed Time broadly falls into the “epic metal” spectrum – there are obvious odes to heavy metal like the bands from early the NWOBHM (Iron Maiden, Angel Witch), but also Manilla Road and Brocas Helm. What would separate Borrowed Time from other similar acts is the strong emphasis of melody and purposefully lo-fi production in the mix. Most epic metal evokes grand landscapes of faraway fantasy lands or grandiose tales of mythology, but the formula employed here is very different. The strong emphasis on dual guitar harmonies coupled with the production paints a more ethereal and otherworldly feeling – almost like being stuck in a dream. As with most epic metal (like the aforementioned bands), the songs don’t follow a very linear pattern, often taking unexpected rhythmic changes that throw you off course. JP’s vocal performance shows shades of what we would later see in Traveler or Gatekeeper, but with a good mix of harmony and eccentricity – with some sections reminding us of the late Terry Jones (Pagan Altar). The synths are tastefully splashed in at various sections of the record in order to enhance the feeling of mysticism.
The albums has its fair share of mid and fast tempo tracks, but the two best tracks that exhibit all the qualities described in the previous paragraph have to be “Dawn of the Glory Rider” and the ballad-esque “Of Nymph and Nihil”. The former feels like a USPM anthem that could have easily been written by a band like Omen or Liege Lord, only with more twin guitar harmonies that would make Smith and Murray nod in approval. Yet the latter is where we see some of Borrowed Time’s more unique songwriting chops as it is decidedly the closest thing to a ballad on the whole record. JP gives an effusive performance and the melodies sweep you off your feet, lulling you into a trance – particularly during the memorable guitar solo midway through the song.
Several years have now passed since a new generation of artists began paying tribute to the old sounds of 80s metal. Borrowed Time was among those first artists of the 2010s and who broke up just as they were starting to hone their musical abilities. While most have moved on to other bands, the magic of their sole full length lives on for those seeking catchy, melodic and emotional epic metal. A definite listen for that seek quality metal from the 2010s.
Favorite track: Dawn of the Glory Rider