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jjohn
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:30 am
Posts: 104
Location: Greece/France
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 4:31 am 
 

Kekal is about to release their newest(and 11th overall) album Deeper Underground next Tuesday. Starting today you can preorder the CD version.

===intro===
For those not in the knowing, Kekal hails from Indonesia and is in my opinion the definition of an underrated band. They started humbly by playing melodic black metal(with some guy called Harry ripping his vocal cords in their debut) but soon evolved to a more experimental sound that peaked with 2007's The Habit Of Fire( an avant/prog masterpiece of modern metal as far as I am concerned). Starting with Audible Minority in 2008 they mostly abandoned their metal roots, but in 2015's Multilateral they brought some of it back as that album celebrated 20 years of awesomeness by incorporating elements from all eras of the band.
===ends===

Deeper Underground continues the path set by Multilateral by allowing more metal and the result is their most extreme album since 2003's 1000 thoughts of Violence. The songs this time are more straightforward(although weird turns are allowed here and there) and more intense than ever. What we have here is a mixture of black metal with some prog and electronic elements. The clean vocals are a minority, with Jeff's growls leading the stage. Also for what it's worth it's a damn good album. Those who liked their earliest material and were perhaps turned off by the turn to a more electronic sound should check this one.

There are nine tracks overall.

1. Root of All Evil
2. Sanity Away from Sanity
3. Speed of God
4. Rotten in the House
5. Deeper Underground
6. The Many Faces of Your Face
7. Revealment
8. Tripple Evils
9. End of Hegemony


As with Multilateral, the album was released on a song by song basis starting with February 2017 and continuing all the way until last month. You can hear the first seven songs in bandcamp and the last two songs are to be released in the official release day, just so that we can have something to look forward to on that day. Of course those curious can find samples in this clip https://www.facebook.com/kekalofficial/videos/10155659898894542/

Streaming/Preorders here: https://kekal.bandcamp.com/album/deeper-underground
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leatherandtrash
Metal newbie

Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:08 am
Posts: 163
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 6:44 am 
 

I completely forgot about these guys... this is exciting. So underrated and innovative.

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Thexhumed
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:26 pm
Posts: 1003
Location: Chile
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 9:34 am 
 

I don't like they've taken the 90% experimental, 10% metal path (I liked it when they were 50/50) but I've got this feeling that if I give their later releases enoug listens, I'll end up liking them anyway. These guys are so talented it seems they can't do wrong.
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jjohn
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:30 am
Posts: 104
Location: Greece/France
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:02 pm 
 

Thexhumed wrote:
I don't like they've taken the 90% experimental, 10% metal path (I liked it when they were 50/50) but I've got this feeling that if I give their later releases enoug listens, I'll end up liking them anyway. These guys are so talented it seems they can't do wrong.


They're my favourite band, so I'm kind of biased, but I agree that although post-2008 output is somewhat hard getting into, it is totally worth it.

It took me plenty of time to warm up to 8 and Autonomy (I had no such issues with Audible Minority which I loved from the first few times I heard), but they're really fun records with some absolutely great tracks.

Anyhow, I'd say for this album the scales are 40/60 in favour of metal. Kekal is Kekal so they'll always experiment, but this time they put their metal background to the forefront.

By the way here is a 2-part interview with Jeff about the creation of the album. He speaks in great detail about the lyrics, the themes and of course the music.

Part I https://www.facebook.com/notes/kekal/10155693889464763/
Part II https://www.facebook.com/notes/kekal/digging-deeper-2nd-part-of-conversation-with-jeff-about-the-album-deeper-undergr/10156251798789763/

Also the album will be accompanied by a digital essay-book by Jeff where he'll expand even more than he does on the lyrical side.
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BeholdtheNicktopus
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:26 pm
Posts: 308
Location: Chicago
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 9:32 pm 
 

Thanks very much for posting this. Only heard Kekal very recently, but really liked what I heard! Definitely pre-ordering this; seems like such an underrated or overly unknown band for their skill and unique sound.
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jjohn
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:30 am
Posts: 104
Location: Greece/France
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:59 pm 
 

And the last two tracks are up on bandcamp.
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exsiccation
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:49 pm
Posts: 160
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:14 am 
 

Love Kekal. Will check this out soon.

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emazapher
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 12:16 pm
Posts: 4
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:27 pm 
 

I have the album now. Very impressive one. Will post review on the band's profile here https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Kekal/4418

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emazapher
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 12:16 pm
Posts: 4
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 6:35 am 
 

My "Deeper Underground" album review is now posted on the band's page:
https://www.metal-archives.com/reviews/ ... her/315496


Johan Galtung meets Megurine Luka in syncronicity

It has been almost 3 years since I wrote a review of any Kekal album, and it was "Multilateral", their previous album released in 2015. That time, I wasn't sure enough if Kekal would come up with another album in the future that could top "Multilateral" for its uniqueness and high dosage of "Kekality". Just recently, a new album called "Deeper Underground" came up and even before the release date it already generated more positive buzz than what I heard during the release of "Multilateral". I was ready to test my skepticism, so I grabbed a digital copy from the band's Bandcamp page as quick as I could. They offer various formats: CD, digital download, and of course streaming for you Spotify sheep. My digital download comes with a really cool digital booklet (I've heard it's identical to the CD booklet, minus the paper and a couple staples) and also a bonus essay written by Jeff "who else" Arwadi, the main lyricist and producer of the album. Jeff is listed as a producer of the album, but he wasn't listed as the musician because the fact that nowadays Kekal runs as a member-less band with anonymous contributors.

The album opens with the song "Root of All Evil", a good opener for setting the pace and atmosphere of the album. The song is neither too fast nor too slow, and neither too metal nor too electronic. You will get an overall impression of the album just from listening this song, even down to the lyrical theme. Don't let Johan Galtung's voice sample frighten you. Kekal is not a left-wing political band, even this album has its fair share of anti-fascism, anti-totalitarianism, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and anti-religious-dogmatism political undertones—all that can be understood as left-wing anarchism. So what kind of band Kekal is? you may ask. I am convinced that Kekal is and has always been unmistakably spiritual, and reading from the bonus essay, it is clear that spirituality was the focus of this album's lyrics.

Comparing back-to-back with "Multilateral" doesn't give "Deeper Underground" any justice it deserves, as this is a whole different album. The music is more constrained and focused, and every song almost uses the same formula throughout the album, with the exception of the dark experimental trip-hop tune "Triple Evils". Songs like “Sanity Away from Sanity” or “The Many Faces of Your Face” can be examples of how familiar or typical these elements of extreme metal (death/black metal) can be perfectly blended with other familiar elements from electronic music genres without losing the connecting atmosphere. This what makes Kekal unique: they know what they're doing and have mastered both extreme metal and electronic. They can use both elements comfortably without sounding cliché. Heck, even they have mastered the use of Vocaloid! Listening to "Speed of God", I can't help to imagine Megurine Luka enjoying her role being the singer of Kekal. Too bad there aren't much of them.

The main keyword I would tag on “Multilateral” is diverse, while “Deeper Underground” is more multi-dimensional than being diverse in the sense of broad variety. Listening to this album is parallel to go hiking and sense all the nature’s beauty as you walk along, as opposed to walking through the alleys of a huge supermarket with many items to choose from. You may get overwhelmed sometimes, but not because of all the sensory overload from hearing too many things within 2 minutes, but because your emotion is being twisted and your mind being knocked by the spirit of sound.

Musically, “Deeper Underground” is also more defined and accessible than “Multilateral”, and it makes perfect sense to see it being accepted better by anyone who isn’t familiar with Kekal, or even by the band’s first-time listeners. I would not hesitate to recommend this album, along with “1000 Thoughts of Violence” or “Acidity” as the introductory Kekal albums for any rock and metal fans out there who never heard any Kekal music. While albums like “Multilateral”, “The Habit of Fire” or “Audible Minority” are more feasible for the ears of the music explorers who always look for something unique and unusual.

That being said, however, I do not accuse the band of selling-out or even try to compromise in the slightest. The music is still very much “avant-garde” and “progressive”, even the album’s most pop-oriented songs like “Revealment” (which features a singer/songwriter called Voxlucis as guest) and the mid-paced title-track, both have their own share of twistedness. It is just the level of offensiveness in the music that seems to be lower now, and the craziness is now very much under control.

Still, Kekal is Kekal and they (the band has zero members now) are an example of an oddity in the music scene. The kids can play together in a playground, but Kekal is like one kid who chose to play outside the fences of the playground and would prefer risking himself being struck by a car than blending in with the rest of the pack!

I give this album 90/100, slightly lower than “Multilateral” (at 92/100) but that was my subjective appraisal based on my personal taste, not based on the quality of music. I'd highly recommend to try this album. Listen on Spotify, then buy the album on Bandcamp if you like it.

Youtube: show

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jjohn
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:30 am
Posts: 104
Location: Greece/France
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 6:37 pm 
 

Thanks for your review! I wish I could write one as well, but I'm not very good at expressing my views about music and certainly not for a band for which I am highly biased(positively of course)

I'm not sure about this being good introductory material though. It's really-really heavy at times: As Jeff said it recalls a bit the energy in Contra Spiritualia Nequitiae and there's the electro/industrial influences that might pull some people off. I do agree with Acidity being perfect for introduction though. Also, yes, Revealment is simply great pop song :)

For me what hurts a little the album is that there's a bit of repetition in terms of structure:

Songs start fast, songs slow down a bit in the middle & some experimentation occurs and then things speed up for the finale.

But when you end up writing songs like End Of Hegemony where the middle part is glorious I really cannot complain :) (Then again all Kekal closers are great: The Unforgiven was incredible too...)

I picked up my CD yesterday too!
I should dwell on the essay as well. I've only read the first third of it...
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emazapher
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 12:16 pm
Posts: 4
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:45 am 
 

jjohn wrote:
Thanks for your review! I wish I could write one as well, but I'm not very good at expressing my views about music and certainly not for a band for which I am highly biased(positively of course)

I'm not sure about this being good introductory material though. It's really-really heavy at times: As Jeff said it recalls a bit the energy in Contra Spiritualia Nequitiae and there's the electro/industrial influences that might pull some people off. I do agree with Acidity being perfect for introduction though. Also, yes, Revealment is simply great pop song :)

For me what hurts a little the album is that there's a bit of repetition in terms of structure:

Songs start fast, songs slow down a bit in the middle & some experimentation occurs and then things speed up for the finale.

But when you end up writing songs like End Of Hegemony where the middle part is glorious I really cannot complain :) (Then again all Kekal closers are great: The Unforgiven was incredible too...)

I picked up my CD yesterday too!
I should dwell on the essay as well. I've only read the first third of it...


The album doesn't sound as much as what I expected. I expected less-heavy, less extreme metal, less blast-beats galore music and more variety of styles. Although I understand that Kekal is technically more a metal band than electronic rock (they've released more full-on metal albums than Ulver did), I found that the metal part is a little bit "pushed" here in the new album. It doesn't perfectly executed like "Acidity" or "1000 Thoughts of Violence", although the harsh vocals are somewhat in lower register and sound better than the typical black metal screams Jeff used to do. On the other hand, the electronic/experimental parts could have gone further and stronger than just being "inserted" into the songs' interludes.

"Triple Evils" is great, though. "Revealment" is also cool. It has some NIN vibes mixed with post-punk. My favorite song is actually the title track "Deeper Underground". I like the garage rock production, fits into the song's atmosphere.

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