Kekal – Envisaged
Self-Released (Streaming, Digital), Elevation Records (Physical)
Release Date: 15.07.22
Running Time: 50:19
Review by Dark Juan
I hope that I find my ravening pack of trash pandas well and ready to read more spurious nonsense masquerading as a learned and erudite record review?
Splendid. I’m not ready to write it yet, though. I’m too damned drained. The life is being leached out of me by that horrible ball of fire in the sky and I don’t even have the energy to go and seduce a young Christian virgin and turn them to the Left Hand Path. All I in fact want to do is hide deep within the crypts of Dark Juan Terrace and hiss when I want feeding. Kind of like what a goth girlfriend is like ninety percent of the time. Except I will not be wearing Emily Strange pyjamas and clutching a teddy bear version of Cubone. I can guarantee you that much. You can drop off my meals at the wine cellar between the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and the rest of the clarets. Take the empties with you, aye?
You will be pleased to know that I have manfully powered through hiding in the cellar and have returned to the keyboard in order to share with you some thoughts about a most intriguing prospect, being Kekal, a “self-regulated entity with no official members” who all perform anonymously, hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia. Which is, to be fair, not really a hotbed of metal shenanigans. Which did, before I started playing “Envisaged”, make me wonder if it was going to be dreadful.
IT IS NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY DREADFUL.
Kekal melds the most extreme of metal with glorious, swooping synths, and cheerfully overlay very disparate influences with each other, and somehow come out with something coherent and full-sounding. Especially, since, according to the blurb I got with the record from Against PR, the songs were written during the recording process so that inspirations that came to the players while performing the songs could be incorporated and moulded into the whole of a song. This idiosyncratic method of recording and writing appears to have paid dividends as their spasmodic, jerky sound has hit me right in the backbrain and shows no sign of stopping punching.
Opening cut ‘Anthropos Rising’ starts with strings underpinned with a wibbly synth line and a strangely pitched vocal from a gentleman not unlike a lower-toned Claudio Sanchez, before the tune breaks into a Baron Crane-esque Jazz fuelled section, and then a dissonant Djent phase in the verse. There’s all kinds of mad shit going on here and already it is shaping up to be one of my favourite tunes of 2022. Accordion melody lines writhe under the heaviest guitar and syncopation – after this comes an ambient electronic section. Then it’s back to the madness again with some of the hardest drumming I think I have ever heard. The drummer isn’t playing their instrument – they are smashing the living shit out of their kit, and the whole song just twists and turns and snaps at you with venom-dripping, stainless steel fangs.
Bear in mind that that was a description of one song. I’m knackered already.
The insane power of the drums on this album (Kekal’s THIRTEENTH offering, I believe) cannot be denied. Whoever is battering them has clear mental health issues and should be incarcerated for his or her own good. ‘Born Anew’ is another absolutely batshit song. Demented carny music slams into Black Metal and then into EBM and Synthwave with robotized background vocals, before segueing into gentle, swooping atmospherics on ‘The Alchemy Of Creation’. Which then kind of turns itself into the kind of soundtrack song that plays out over our heroes driving off into the sunset, leaving behind them a trail of corpses and a lot of robbed liquor stores. Fade to titles…
““Envisaged” is an album that was specifically created to celebrate The Great Awakening of humanity and Earth’s Ascension to the higher octave of vibrational frequency. All the songs were written during the recording process, to capture the spontaneous moments of insights within each and every passage of creation. The music and lyrics represent a creative spiritual journey following continuous revelations regarding the current events on Earth that have been unfolding especially in the past few years. If observed and put together in a continuum, they signify the process of global collective awakening and purification towards humanity’s grand destiny: to transcend the matrix and rise beyond the construct of duality.”
That was a quote from the collective that constitutes Kekal. I have no idea what they are saying. I’ve been at the beer again, you see, and it is also hotter than Hell’s own pizza oven at nearly half-eight at night. I can’t think straight and the sheer insanity of Kekal is not helping me cope. Such eclecticism is unusual in Heavy Metal, and their fearless desire to bring in new sounds and concepts can’t help but make this jaded old fucker writing these words jerk to surprised attention and salivate worse than Pavlov’s pooch.
‘The Ascending Collective’ melds dissonance and the kind of melody line that a hairspray bothering Glam band would have been delighted to maul, before again launching into syncopated manic insanity on the verse, and having little synthesiser breaks to allow you to catch your breath, before bludgeoning the poor listener once more over the head. My ears are bleeding and I’m scared of this bunch of clearly homicidal Indonesians. They even chuck in a bit of cello and a kind of Cure meets Nitzer Ebb kinda vibe.
Well, I’m blown away. You have no idea what this band are going to do next. The production of the record is very good indeed, although sometimes there’s a little too much going on for the sound engineer to cope with, and some quite complex passages sound a little muddy, although the electronic components are clear and legible. The band are also not afraid of using dissonance and disharmony to create an unusual mood and unsettle the listener, and this marks a notable break from the desire to play music that works in a kind of melodious fashion. This is an extreme album. Not in the case of extreme heaviness, but in a style similar to The Chronicles Of Manimal And Samara (yes, those two AGAIN) where there is no influence that is not acceptable, and Kekal share that same innate gift with TCOMAS of being able to weld these tremendously disparate influences together into a coherent and tremendously powerful whole. Witness ‘Conduit Of Light’ for example. This song runs the gauntlet from wavy, dreamy synth and a languid, liquid vocal, to out and out gabba techno, to technical metal, yet retains a strong synthesized drum pattern overlaid with the human mad bastard who plays the actual drums, while the guitarist rips out a classic sounding metal solo and it all just fucking WORKS.
In conclusion then, because this review is getting very fucking long even by my standards of syllabification – Kekal started out as a kind of straight ahead Extreme Metal band but have fully embraced their experimental (emphasis on the mental) side and have created something really quite special, and frankly if this is what Indonesia has to offer musically I’m fucking off there right now.
I invite you all to join me, and together we can experience a band that offers the technical prowess of Death and Necrophagist, the ear for melody of Gunship and Carpenter Brut and the sheer insanity of Mr. Bungle. It’s going to be a glorious thing.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Sistem peringkat cipratan darah Dark Juan yang dipatenkan) has been keeping a shortlist of his top recordings of the year and there’s already a) A shitload more than ten choices and b) Kekal have shot up there and so far are at least top five. 9/10 for a wildly eccentric piece of work. I have deducted a mark because there is a marked tendency to rely on an electronic middle eight or fade in the songs on offer and it sometimes makes what could be a coruscating skyrocket of a song fizzle a bit. Still an absolutely captivating album though!
01. Anthropos Rising
02. Born Anew
03. The Alchemy of Creation
04. The Ascending Collective
05. Conduit of Light
06. Anarchy in the New Earth
07. Summer Harvest
08. Zero Point
09. Destiny Recalibration
A self-regulated entity with no official members who all record their parts anonymously. Good luck finding anything else out. I have fucking tried and tried.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.