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Kembatinan Premaster-piece - 98%

MikeyC, November 20th, 2010

I’m going to admit, I avoided Havohej for a long time because I thought the name was stupid. Havohej. Jehovah spelled backwards. How freakin’ Satanic is that! I’m growing horns just thinking of it. I forgot about the band for a while, and when I saw them mentioned once more, I checked the Metal-Archives page out of curiosity and saw the tag “experimental” up there, which did increase my interest. I saw their (his?) album Kembatinan Premaster in a shop for relatively cheap and decided to go for it. What a great buy that turned out to be!

Mind you, the only other experience I’ve had is that blasphemous spoken-work track “Dethrone The Son Of God” from the album of the same name, and it still remains as one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, so I was naturally a little sceptical. That scepticism washed away as I was working my way through this experimental black metal masterpiece. After the initial thumping ends, we’re treated to some screams over drums and some rumbling noise in the background, sounds which will become the benchmark of the album.

What you will quickly notice about Kembatinan Premaster is the lack of guitar. That is one thing I love about this album, too: the fact that there are no discernable guitars or guitar riffs, yet the music can still remain completely interesting using drums, vocals, rumbling, and various other noises. Even minus guitars, the sound is certainly black metal and is shown through the production and, more openly, the vocals. Paul Ledney has some ferocious, blasphemous screams that permeate blissfully, shrieking his way through the album with force and intent. I can’t understand a single word he’s saying because the album doesn’t come with lyrics, but I count the vocals as another important element in making Kembatinan Premaster the unique album it is.

The drumming is great. While nothing terribly special or technical, it drives the songs forward the way they should. Most songs contain a single drum beat that serves more like a metronome for the rest of the music, but they still have some simple soloing going on, like on “Bloud And Souls.” I’m unsure if the drums are real or programmed, but they sound real and they do their job with perfection, so that’s all that really matters.

What really binds the album together, though, are the various sounds and noises and general experimentation of the album. It would not be what it is without the opening thumping sounds (also found at the end of “Hatefull Unto God”), the dissonance at the beginning of “Bloud Of The Word”, and the ambient closer, “Homerica Medicatio.” However, my favourite is the 10-minute “Melancholike,” with the static-like opening noises, and what sounds like a skipping vinyl that repeats for over two minutes to close the album and is found within the song. While that doesn’t sound like pleasing listening, you’d probably be right, but in the context of what Havohej are trying to convey here, it’s absolutely wonderful.

I think Havohej achieved the unachievable here: an album without guitars and that’s still evil. Mixed together with some experimentation with various sounds and you’ve got an album that’s unlike anything you’ll hear. There’s really nothing else like this out there to my knowledge. Pick this up at all costs.