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Jet Unblack - 85%

psychoticnicholai, February 6th, 2014

Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams, the very first release by Indonesian black metal band Kekal is an example of an album of the unblack genre done right. Kekal shows off their musical muscle and songwriting chops well on this diverse and ingenious, if not somewhat lyrically awkward debut. The album has a very Cradle of Filth/Ulver sound to it with additional ideas such as keyboards, guitar play styles varying from melodic, black, and thrash metal music, shrieking vocals, death growls, female vocals, and even a little bit of clean singing. This album already shows hints of what will appear on their later works as Kekal really overhaul this album with all the varied characteristics of black metal to make this record as diverse and tasty as possible to listeners.

The album's musical characteristics work well in it's favor as it manages to be extremely diverse yet still being an almost pure black metal release. Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams has a very rough production to it's overall sound that gives the record a sharp, heavy sound to it, but also doesn't ruin everything with fuzziness or make the recording unclear unlike more typical bands who use this kind of production. Everything has a very dark, ethereal sound to it as if you were listening to this album in the jungle depicted on the cover, but at night when all the weird otherworldly things seem to happen. The guitars are nice and crunchy with a hint of low-fi fuzz and an unusually low tuning for black metal. The synths add to the dark atmosphere presented along with the vocals which usually alternate between shrieks and growls, all of which give a ghostly majesty to the album's atmosphere. The only low point in this is the lyrics, the overt jesus-freaking that takes place in the lyrics can sound really awkward to most people who listen to this album. Only, you won't be able to understand most of the lyrics, so that won't be that much of an issue. Overall, with the music and instruments in place, this album sounds great.

There is sort of a darkness inherent in all of this album's element's despite the fact that this is technically "christian metal." Everything sounds as though it was recorded in a crypt with a bit of echo adding to the sort of dark miasma that engulfs this album's sound. Pummeling tremolo riffs mixed with thrash techniques will have you enjoying the flurry that Jeffray and Azhar are able to dish out. Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams is best played in darkness to truly get the feeling of this release. Whether it be the apocalyptic thunder and crunch of songs like Armageddon and Reality, or softer songs such as Escaping Eternal Suffering and My Eternal Lover which feature a melodic guitar and keyboards that are tuned just right to give a shadowy, yet relaxing tone to them, you'll definitely have your senses pleased. From beginning to end, all of the songs on this album combine to make consistent yet diverse music and most of the tracks can stand out on their own quality, the ones I listed before most of all. You will remember the sound of this album as it has original songwriting, diverse instrumentation, and can definitely stick in your mind with its melodic performance and gritty production rounding out the whole sound.

Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams is a well played debut from a band that would eventually go on to create brilliant albums such as 1000 Thoughts of Violence, Embrace the Dead, and Acidity. You can even hear traces of that avant-garde sound from future records in it's infant, nascent form as they use all the different elements people associate with black metal to craft this medley of songs that give specific rings to themselves and deliver a dark punch to the ears of listeners. With synths, guitars, tremolo riffs, thrash riffs, epic songwriting, and a varied and well performed vocal medley. This album is certainly good, and if you can get it, will be worth it.

Surprise Package. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, September 14th, 2009

Whilst I have always expected Kekal to deliver the unexpected in regards to their experimental visions of metal, I didn’t have a clue the debut was a black metal effort. I had heard a total of three Kekal full-lengths before this one and even the earliest of those efforts did not provide a black metal basis. However, I’ve read several suggestions which raised a point that this could be considered gothic metal, though a much heavier variation upon the usual themes of gothic metal, with rasping black metal vocals dished up on top of the material below it. There are suggestions that this record takes influence from the British band Cradle of Filth, but since I’ve never listened to any era of that bands music, I cannot agree or disagree with the comparison, so I will just have to recognise that it is there, but not concentrate of it. Given Kekal’s long history with experimentation, I suppose I should have expected a debut which differs as much as humanly possible from the last full-length piece that they released. The history of the band has been interesting to say the least, even behind the scenes where numerous problems have occurred, ultimately leading to the band being on indefinite hiatus. I’m still not clear over what the bands status is at the moment, but some suggest that Jeffray, despite claiming that he is not an active member of the band, has kept the bands status open as he may wish to return to the outfit in the distant future when he gets some motivation back.

According to Jeffray himself, rather oddly, he claims that he does not feel the need to continue making music for Kekal anymore since he is “no longer pissed off” and is “at ease with life”. Supposedly, since moving away from the troubles of inner city life and being in an all-round less stressful environment, he no longer can manage to portray his emotions in the form of Kekal. Having never heard the debut previous to this statement, I found these remarks rather strange since Kekal have never previously come across as all that aggressive anyway - until now. ‘Beyond The Glimpse of Dreams’ is an incredibly sadistic view, in comparison to the rest of Kekal’s music that I have personally heard. The vocals, the instrumentation and even the production are grittier than ever before and seem to back up the statements made by Jeffray in regards to the transformation of the band, from aggressive Malaysian pioneers, to a timid experimental band with roots in a much less extreme style, despite the ironic fact that Kekal are described as “experimental extreme metal”. It’s a shame that Kekal are only a monument to themselves and have no active members, but I can definitely see Jeffray resuming this band in the future, regardless of what his fellow creator, Leo, does in regards to the band.

Jeffray obviously seemed saddened by the lack of motivation towards writing material for the band, despite the fact that Kekal have churned out as many as three full-lengths in four years. He wanted a more aggressive style to shroud the band in angst, but it just wasn’t happening the way it used to, as it did on this hard-hitting piece which takes time to grow in stature. When ‘Rotting Youth’ pummelled its way out of the speakers and into my face, I was apprehensive at the portrayal of the old style, which apparently revolves around Christian lyrics and themes, a surprising factor of the music. It sounded far too primitive and I wasn’t accustomed to the style that Kekal were displaying but, fortunately, the sound does grow in stature and the subtle melodies which flow like underground streams begin to puncture the aggression with a lighter shade of grey, as opposed to the heart felt black metal rasps, which taint the soundscapes with a scorching red colour as the screams pierce the skin of the soundscapes, drawing blood with its violent methods. In some ways, Kekal remind me of Japanese band Sigh. As they age, they evolve drastically in sound. Though the two may never sound alike, their transition from all-out aggression to a mild mannered and timid experimental expression is astonishing. Given the extreme line-up changes Kekal have been plagued by, this might not be as surprising as it first seems.

For example, this record boasts far more participating musicians than on latter day efforts. This includes female vocalists, something I have never seen used as a method by Kekal - which is possibly where the gothic resemblances come from and the Cradle of Filth comparisons are composed. Though the female vocalists’ performances are sparse, this is just one of the underlining experimental techniques that transforms this record from a mind numbing black metal piece into a multi-dimensional extreme epic which is also bolstered by an impressive keyboard section as shown on songs like ‘Escaping Eternal Suffering’, which takes on a new and defined symphonic element, as well as multiple guitarists, which helps the record deviate, instead of sounding too repetitive as it might have without the addition of the second guitarist, as the aforementioned song, once again, displays expertly. Though ‘Rotten Youth’ shows this record as being a bit flat, the record evolves simultaneously thereafter into a beautifully vivid Christian expression of life and death, with aggressive patches that give this record a twist. Even the latter day clean vocals, which have always been distinctive and dynamic, show the overriding skills of this multi-functional band in full. Despite the rather crude opening, this record is stunning amidst the desolation of the anger.

A very, very strong debut - 95%

natrix, January 23rd, 2007

Now, I'm definatley not fond of "symphonic black metal," "goth metal," or any other shade of Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir worship. This is partly due to the fact that I believe that metal should be dirty, mean, and not rely on weepy atmospheres. Kekal's early work often gets lumped in with the aforementioned stuff that I clearly do no prefer, and I think that is very unfortuanate.

Kekal's sound is firmly rooted in quasi-symphonic black metal with raspy vocals, trebly guitars and keyboards. What most people won't expect, however, is that this is one hell of a heavy album. The trebly guitars show more of a Possessed sound than CoF, and lead guitar is treated with the care it needs, rather than being a mass of noodling or random whammy bar excursions. Jeff is a really good guitarist, definately very skilled in his attack, and very good at writing riffs that range from crushingly heavy and doomy, razor wire tremlo bursts, and truly beautiful melodic textures.

The production is typical third world rawness, just the way I fucking love it. Nothing is buried, but nothing is clean and sparkly. This is great because when Kekal decides to get atmospheric, it comes across very dark and heavy. The beginning of "Spirits" is the best example of this, and literally pulls you into the slamming main riff of the song. Though a drum machine is used instead of a real drummer, it does not impede the songs in any way.

Vocalist Harry screams insanely throughout, making it a real shame that he quit the band after this album. He does some clean vocals, which are decent, but his coarse vocals are what I really enjoy. And he doesn't just use one type of rasp, but will use a more deathly growl as well. He's not as insane as Landferman from Bethlehem, but the vocal performance is certainly not mundane.

There are some quieter moments, with female vocals and atmospheres somewhat remiscent of Dead Can Dance, but thankfully, they are far outnumbered by the die hard metal moments. Having said that, those moments really aren't that bad, nor as cheesy as a 35 year old man, clad in leather screeching about how he likes to get pegged by vampire girls.

The lyrics are definately not typical metal, seeing as how they treat subject matter that is not generally accepted in the metal community, but with insanely good riffing, a dark sound and nasty as fuck vocals, who really gives a shit? If you can't enjoy this album for what it is because of the music, you should just piss off. Otherwise, this album has a wide appeal to a lot of different audiences.