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VG's Cavalcade of Weird Albums, Pt. 9 - 96%

Valfars Ghost, July 30th, 2019

Indonesia's Kekal has never been strictly normal but certainly grew into a one-of-a-kind treasure through the early stages of their career. The band’s 4th album, the startlingly inventive 1000 Thoughts of Violence, is where they established and solidified their identity as one of the planet’s most skillfully unconventional metal bands. This was not the first time the band experimented with the extreme metal formula, nor would it be the last, but if any of their releases can be said to be the ultimate statement of the band’s identity, it’s this one. 1000 Thoughts of Violence is a monolith of creative songwriting and an essential listen for anyone who wants their metal infused with strange, exotic spices.

With this release, listeners get a sense of how broad Kekal’s tastes are. The album’s influences are about as far-flung as one can imagine, with shades of Celtic Frost, Emperor, Bathory, Iron Maiden, Pantera, and Voivod sharing space with passages and progressions inspired by non-metal luminaries like Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Pink Floyd, Portishead, and Tangerine Dream. While that may sound odd, the truly astounding thing here is how well-integrated all these diverse influences are and how seamlessly the album transitions from one idea to the next. No matter how weird 1000 Thoughts of Violence gets, no part of it ever seems unjustified or misguided.

Because of how much the album changes from one moment to the next, it’s hard to provide an overall sense of what it’s like. At the center of it all is a canvas made of riffs that, for the most part, don’t quite seem to fit into any one subgenre, but include copious death, black, thrash, and groove metal traits. Frequently, the metal aspects are augmented or interrupted by various electronic effects. In a journey through this unique sonicscape, you’ll also frequently hear the haunting and vaguely operatic vocals of guest singer Safrina (who puts in an especially cathartic and mysterious performance in album opener
‘Subsession / Once Again It Failed’). Along the way, there are plenty of ear-catching moments that are unquestionably strange but never unwanted or ill-fitting. The most famous one is a tranquil and extremely catchy hip hop beat in ‘Violent Society’. You also get harmonized dual guitar leads that sound like the handiwork of any number of power metal bands in ‘Artifacts of Modern Insanity’ and countless moments where off-kilter rhythms that sound like they emigrated to this album from Atheist’s Unquestionable Presence are juxtaposed with unexpected harsh or ambient electronics or equally unusual symphonic bits. There are too many odd one-off moments throughout the album to name them all here and I really can't stress enough how unexpectedly fluid and satisfying the whole thing is despite these diversions.

There aren't many albums as diverse in its influences as 1000 Thoughts of Violence. Aspects of jazz fusion, triphop, electronica, world music, black, thrash, death, symphonic, and fill-in-the-blank metal are drawn into the fold and swirled into a maelstrom of surprising power that somehow manages to maintain a unity of vision and purpose all the way through. There's always plenty of potential for something like this to collapse under its own ambition or end up seeming like a disordered mess but luckily musical expertise prevailed. Jeff Arwadi and Azhar Levi Sianturi are brilliant composers more than capable of realizing a vision of staggering, genre-straddling brilliance. No matter how much they hop from one genre to another or how ADHD-addled this album may seem when one describes it, 1000 Thoughts of Violence remains cohesive, fresh, and joyfully entertaining from start to finish.

Godly - 100%

psychoticnicholai, January 16th, 2014

1000 Thoughts Of Violence could possibly be seen as the very peak of Kekal's ability as far as making music could go. They had at his point evolved from a simple Cradle Of Filth/Ulver styled unblack metal band into a diverse prog/black/avant-garde/whatever-you-call-it metal band who bends genres, conquers songwriting, and breaks all notions of predictability. It's biggest strength being that the spastic changes and schizophrenic mixture of musical elements comes out surprisingly smooth and coherent, creating a full album of standout tracks. 1000 Thoughts Of Violence pushes the characteristics of the band to their very limits and builds a real masterpiece from them.

1000 Thoughts Of Violence blends together into it's black metal base elements of industrial, electronica, melodeath, thrash metal, and progressive into a delicious and varied cocktail of sonic madness. Varied vocal techniques including black metal shrieks, death growls, and clean vocals are used throughout this album and are all blended and used perfectly to complement the mood of the song. One thing helping this album along is the fact that the overt Jesus-freaking from earlier albums is all but gone from the lyrics, instead opting for more philosophical and secular lyrics with only a very light, very faint biblical twist, eliminating the lyrical awkwardness and enhancing the lyrics to a much more intelligent standing. The riffs are all magnificent and extremely memorable while also being driven and expertly performed on the fine-tuned and brilliantly crafted song structures that will land a hold in your mind and give off a sense of unadulterated euphoria. The elements of 1000 Thoughts Of Violence, while extremely varied, all complement each other as opposed to clashing with one another as most would expect. It is a vicious and precise album, yet also an intelligent and extremely skillful one at that. Kekal's ability to play on your emotions and create atmosphere amongst the brutality and savagery displayed in their music is displayed on this album to it's very fullest.

The album starts off with almost pure black metal savagery on Subsession/Once Again It Failed with a jolt of the guitar to wake you up just before going on an all out attack with the guitars that will leave you battered and thrashed. The kick-ass riffing, avant-garde accents and masterful solos on Vox Diaboli, In Continuum, Artifacts Of Modern Insanity, and Violent Society put these shredding masterpieces at the very top of their game. Paradigma Baru and Subsession II are both awesome and cathartic instrumentals that add to the overall emotion and atmosphere of the album as they lay down the images of peace and calm for the former and epic progress and adventure for the latter. The more progressive numbers near the end, Default and Beyond Numerical Reasoning are both epic pieces that showcase Kekal's virtuosity and almost seamless fusion of genres and avant-garde elements into a diverse, yet cohesive sound full of mood and atmosphere. The amount of technicality and diversity along with the smoothness and memorability of the tracks on this album leave me astonished.

With epic progression and different feelings offered up by each of the songs, this album is very deep and complex with the ability to give you a darkened shock of thrash riffing which then turns to a very adventurous sounding black metal tremolo with a beautiful and memorable chorus line with the industrial undertones simmering in the background waiting to enhance the flurry of the guitars. Songwriting is incredibly complex, yet somehow easy to memorize, like the songwriting on many legendary prog rock albums. Not only that, the lyrics you can understand really speak to your mind as you are transported into a world of conflict and insanity with no escape in sight. This album was very much inspired by the kind of fear and disbelief that someone could get out of living in the early 2000's, what with the rise of terrorism, spreading warfare, technological revolution, and the threat of extinction by so many things. The human condition as a whole with all the risks taken and threats assessed is what drives this album lyrically, and to some extent musically. A lyrical example would be in Artifacts Of Modern Insanity where they talk about the ruins and remnants left behind on earth after the apocalypse. A musical one would be the robotic vocals heard on Default. 1000 Thoughts Of Violence turns into a very intelligent and very unique affair throughout with surprises and interesting pieces around every corner.

1000 Thoughts Of Violence is a true masterwork of an album and one of the all time best I have ever heard. This easily trumps almost all albums I have heard prior and made my day when I first heard it. All the different divergent elements come together smoothly with well-crafted songwriting and interesting ideas from the minds of the band members. This album is an unsung classic, and best of all, It's up for free download on Kekal's website. I can easily recommend that you go to their site, get this album, listen to it, and spread the word. If only this record had gotten more popular, it would have become a game-changer. It is beyond brilliant.

Kekal / 1000 Thoughts of Violence - 100%

Panji_Millennium, June 11th, 2004

First off, let me tell you one thing: Kekal is one of the most original and most innovative metal bands ever exist on the current underground metal scene! I'm not trying to hype this band out of their place, this is my humble and honest opinion. And this album only strengthen my views about Kekal. A GREAT band that is.

Before I write my review about their new album, I will tell you that this album is just for open-minded metal fans and musicians who can admire musical explorations.

It took about 10 spins for me to start writing this review, and man, yet I still hear new things coming out from their songs. They are very progressive, musically complex and have lots of amazing, original riffs and twisted chords. Generally, "1000 Thoughts of Violence" is an extreme presentation of progressive - avant metal, mixed by nasty blastbeats and technically brutal riffing. This album brings us a balance of brutality, intensity, great groove (yes, THAT Kekal groove we all know and love!), dark atmosphere, strong melody and harmony.

There are no King-Diamond-goes-to-hell falsetto vocals here (for those who hate "The Painful Experience" vocals don't be afraid, they are GONE for good!) The vocals are back to the days of "Embrace The Dead" era, with typical Kekal screams, screeches, growls, shouts, and operatic clean male and clean female singing. Musically, Kekal still manages to keep their own trademark for good but the band has progressed very very far after the split CD (Chaos & Warfare). What we can hear today (along with their TRADEMARK symphonic black/death metal style) are mature traditional progressive rock/metal elements, avantgarde elements (hip-hop beats, drum n bass, jazz, analog synths, world ambient groove), and technically advanced theories of fusion. If you need comparation with their older albums, I can describe "1000 Thoughts..." as a heavy progression of "Embrace The Dead" album with the addition of modern avantgarde elements. The music, while brutal, is not as agressive and angry as "The Painful Experience". This album no longer has many bright and thrashy power-metal riffs as used on "The Painful..." CD. In other words, the atmosphere is darker and colder with tremolo riffing as a dominant factor. Also gone is the raw and muddy guitar production of "The Painful Experience". "1000 Thoughts of Violence" has some good tone of crunchy walls of guitars backed up with realistic drum sound. The best production Kekal ever achieves.

What makes this album very interesting?????? You must listen to it at least 4 or 5 times before you can find out this metallic aural jewel!!!!

Let me describe it, Theoretically:

CHORDS: Kekal uses so many unusual, 'crazy' chords here (check out those VOIVOD chords if you wants to know what 'crazy' chords mean), and it's very difficult if someone wants to cover their songs because of these unusual chords alone. These original insane chords won't make you bored, even you play it so many times (I have played it more than 10 times now and I'm not bored with it yet). Not to mention the awesome key-changes (I repeat KEY-CHANGES, do you know that damn good musicians use many key-changes on one song without being out-of-context? KEKAL freakin' CAN!!) that are rarely used by average metal bands.

RHYTHMS: The drum patterns are completely INSANE!!! Imagine Flo Mounier (CRYPTOPSY) meets Bill Bruford (KING CRIMSON, YES) and Neil Peart (RUSH). For ordinary drummers, this might be a complete blasphemy, but for the development of music, it's phenomenal!!!! You have it all: Cymbal-circus, odd-time signature carnival, unexpected meter and tempo-changes, difficult syncopations, double-kick madness and catastrophic hyperblastbeats!! The performance is very possible for a human drummer to play, but only for the drum masters. You can hear the kick drums doing triplets while the hihat and cymbals in standard 16 or 32 beats. Also you can hear the dual-kick groove technique. I can't believe a drum can be programmed that natural and difficult!!!!

MELODY LAYERS: Kekal is widely known (and respected) for using their own unique IRON-MAIDENsque melody layers (without being IRON MAIDEN copy like CRADLE of FILTH and Gothenburg metal like IN FLAMES), and the harmonizations of these layers. They are also used in this album, if the chords (the main riffs) are doing some jazzy-weird thing, the melodies doesn't get stuck with it. The layers are both distorted and clean. There are some melody layers done in harmonics!! Something new to extreme metal!

AVANTGARDE ELEMENTS: This might be a 'most hated' part for close-minded metal fans. Kekal do use non-metal elements to make interesting and original music. These elements are rarely used in heavy metal nowadays but have been known quite well within the mainstream music scene because of the electronica revolution in the mid 90s. I'm not saying that Kekal has gone 'trendy' because they use drum-loops, samples, ambient noises and analog synthesizers (and messing them to create hip-hop, drum n bass, ambient, or even acid jazz bits in the middle of their songs). Don't get me wrong, these elements are used only for the 'spices' and not really 'big' enough. Extreme metal is still very dominant in Kekal's music. They also used some sorts of guitar effects to create some moody, almost psychedelic ambience.

SOLO GUITARS: There are solo guitars on most of the songs, of course. Once again, Kekal is known for creating interesting solo guitars and this time they even make more interesting and original solos. Main lead guitarist Leo didn't perform with the band for this album, but Jeff did very good solos too. Not guitar-hero lightning fast solos of course, but they are precised, classy, fast, controlled solos with his own original scales. Listen to the good solos on songs like "Artifacts of Modern Insanity", "Vox Diaboli", the middle clean solo on "Beyond Numerical Reasons" and the intro solo to "In Continuum".

BASS GUITARS: The bass are more and more involved in this album, and I hear many good basslines that are independently picked without following the same patterns and notes of the guitar riffs. Listen to the melody basslines on the middle prog./fusion interlude of "Vox Diaboli". The bass tone is also very good, tight but not intersect with the guitar sound.

RIFFS: The riffs are never boring. You get typical tremolo black metal riffing, power metal riffs, brutal thrashy death riffs, and some progressive, acrobatic technical metal riffs.

What makes them very interesting is in fact that Kekal can mix all above elements into one solid, cohesive music. They KNOW exactly about theories of fusion. Perfect. For me, 1000 Thoughts of Violence is one of the best extreme metal albums in 2003. I rate it a full-score.

(Review by Willy D)

A refreshing new sound all should hear. - 100%

megafury, October 5th, 2003

I've heard some of Kekal's previous albums, all very good but with kind of a bad production. Now, Kekal's brilliance can be heard in their latest album, where they push the boundaries of blending different genres even further than their more black metal oriented roots.

The band explores the big world of music in this album. 1000 Thoughts of Violence is their most diverse work to date, blending electronica/experimental, asian/oriental music, melodic progressive metal, black/death metal, jazz, and even a little technoish hip hop beats (just a small part towards the end of the track "Violent Society", don't be turned off by that hip hop comment, it's only a few seconds of experimentation with that element, they bust out with blackened thrash metal after that part too.) There's even some bells used in one song. I should mentions the solos are pretty damn good too.

Each song has an intro that catches your attention, then the song manages to transform into something new, creating an unexpected atmosphere. Every song has its soft parts and heavy parts, gives you a variety of feelings to the sound. There's so many parts to the songs that I keep coming back for more to listen for my favorite melodies.

There's a combination of vocals. You'll hear regular singing, black metal vocals, feminine like singing, soft whispering, and some weird robotic sound effect applied on some of the singing.

Just get or hear this album if you're a fan of innovative, diverse music or any genre of metal.