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I've been waiting a while to post this review... - 98%

elektro, October 7th, 2009

It would be wise to describe who Kekal are: Kekal are an avant-garde black metal band formed in Indonesia in 1995. If the first thing you heard from this band was this album, their black metal roots would not be evident at first as the sound has drastically changed since those early days over a decade ago.

Since then, Kekal has been widely praised with making some of the most bizarre sounding metal, nay, music ever recorded, with them hitting their peak with the underrated The Habit of Fire in early 2007. At least, that was their peak until now.

This latest album is the most “out-there” album I have ever heard from any band that calls themselves “metal”. In fact, because of the extreme amount of avant-garde experimentation they use on their last two releases, they barely qualify as “metal” at all, but that should not matter considering that the music they do create is highly unusual and original compared to what is popular in metal and most other genres of music today. They refuse to be labeled under any genre because their music can be almost any genre you can name. This latest album, Audible Minority, is no exception.

I often compare Audible Minority to Kekal’s previous release The Habit of Fire because it carries much of the same spirit as that album. On Habit of Fire, Kekal decided to almost completely shed their metallic roots to go in a direction more in the vein of Imaginary Sonicscape-era Sigh. Unlike Sigh, however, Kekal decided to stray even further from metal on this album, going more toward a sound that could be best decribed as Laurie Anderson and the singer of The Mars Volta team up with Radiohead and Ulver to make a metal album. The music is that off-the-wall.

It also is a much darker album than the ones they've released prior mainly because of the cold electronic approach they have taken. The album's press release describes it as "a stateless, nameless, and label-less manifesto made from all the bitterness and pain. The album that is entirely bleak, gloom, and dark." I am one to agree on that statement.

Hardly any songs on Audible Minority really stick out as saying “Kekal is an Indonesian black metal band”. If anything, this album is the farthest from black metal that Kekal have ever recorded. It’s almost impossible to describe what genre of music is on this album, but that is the beauty of it: the music will surprise you. I had heard a few tracks before this album was released (“The Vampire Song”, “Narrow Avenue”), and even I had no idea what was in store when I first ordered this album. The music is just that weird. But, that is what makes Kekal such a good outfit: there’s no BS behind it all, the music speaks for itself. Kekal is one of the most DIY bands I have ever heard.

Some people have described Kekal as “Christian metal” because of their earliest albums having very Christian lyrics. Let me just say that that should not turn you off from hearing this album or any of their others because their lyrics are nothing like the horribleness of Creed. If anything, the band members don’t even call themselves a Christian band, as their later albums have more vague lyrics dealing with existential philosophy than anything else, this album included. Still, the lyrics are better and more intelligent than many of the bands in the genre of metal, I have to admit.

I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for metal or any music that goes beyond what has become popular in mainstream culture. I definately recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in Ulver or Sigh, because this album, nay, this band carries the same spirit as those two outfits. No, I will not give this album 100% (as there is no such thing as a perfect album), but it comes pretty damn close with my 98%. Plus, all the tracks are free from the band. Where can you get a better deal?