Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Coming out of their bloody shells - 98%

psychoticnicholai, February 23rd, 2014

Embrace the Dead sees Kekal maturing a lot as a band with their sound becoming more diverse and more unique. This shows signs that perhaps our Indonesian friends want to be something more than a good, but rather derivative unblack metal band. Their sound on Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams, their first album, was very Cradle of Filth-y. Here it sounds like they are starting to be more like their own band, though they also seem to be taking cues from more respected black metal bands such as Emperor in their application of a melodic black metal sound. They also seem to be introducing small bits of progressive influence that would later become a staple of their sound with album such as 1000 Thoughts of Violence and Acidity. Yes, Embrace the Dead is where we see that sound begin to bloom, and what a beautiful, bloody bloom it is.

Embrace the Dead opens on a melodic tone building into a full on black metal tremolo flurry. Riff patterns shift often and give a sense of real movement within the music and progress within the songs. Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams was a well written album, but progressive elements were few there. Here, progression is integral to their sound as the songs often build up and change wildly from tremolo picking and shrieks to mystical synthesizer breaks, to thrash riffing. Jeffray Arwadi proves to be a very suitable replacement for old vocalist Harry, who left the band after Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams was released as he can do a great guttural vocal delivery, his clean singing could use some work, but shows promise. Synthesizers are used liberally to add to the atmosphere of epic adventure which gives this album somewhat of a fantasy tone, again ala Emperor. This is the kind of super-geeky black metal that feels best while playing a bit of Elder Scrolls out on a quest.

Many of the songs on Embrace the dead have an uplifting, battle-ready tone to them as if you are ready to go straight into the fight with a sword in one hand, a gun in the other, and no armor to cover you, going berserk; What a rush. This battle-ready sound is best exemplified by Longing for Truth, Embrace the Dead, and The Final Call. The galloping thrash riffs interjected into these songs helps along the warrior spirit with a bit of active punch that someone can throw themselves around to as well as picturing the fight in their head. As though your riding right into the fray of it all at high speed.

Some of these songs go for a different direction than this. Scripture Before Struggle gives off a very mystical sound and with it's heavy use of synths and slow playing give off the feeling of a ritual or contemplation. This heavy, yet enveloping song does good to ease someone after the righteous rage of most of this album. Healing gives the impression of 64-bit video game music and is thoroughly relaxing and may even pull on some nostalgia strings for people who grew up with that kind of sound in their games. From Within gives a look into the catchier side of Kekal in which the song runs mostly on a prog-ish main riff and excellent solo-work. In fact, I'd imagine that this song could have netted them some media attention, maybe on the same level as Dimmu Borgir if the metal press at the time had caught on to this, but nope. All this finally builds up to the epic closer that is Millennium, In which we start off with the sound of the wind going to the disturbing sound of baby chimes, almost like the Clocks from Dark Side of the Moon. This fades into an imposing black metal dirge supplemented by ethereal synthesizer rhythms. The attack goes on for several minutes until we get towards the end where Jeffray delivers a soft, clean sung passage that eases off from the harsh battery. It flares back up again at the very end going in a sorrowful, melodic riff that finally fades and closes the album.

Embrace the Dead is one killer album, It's arguably one of the best out there as far as progressive black metal is concerned. With growing maturity and increasing technicality and songwriting skills, Kekal have pulled off a mature and original album with lots of memorability to it. The guitar work is tight, the synthesizers work to this album's favor at all turns. The overall feel of Embrace the Dead is very energetic and epic with a lot of melody to balance it all out. Embrace the Dead is a superior album and should be heard by as many people as possible.

A step down from the debut, but still enjoyable - 87%

natrix, January 23rd, 2007

This was my first experience with Kekal, and certainly not my last. I was very impressed by this Indonesian "extreme metal" band, and checked out their other works immediately after listening to Embrace the Dead.

The basic style of atmospheric death/thrash is roughly the same from the first, but on here Jeff takes over lead vocals. His harsh vocals are not quite as maniacal and twisted as Harry's performance on Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams, but I can't complain about them other than that. His clean vocals...well, we'll get to that.

Riffs still fucking crush. I sure don't hear any CoF on here, thankfully. I note that they've added a bit more thrash in, namely some sections that bring to mind Dark Angel's crashing barrages of riffs. There's also a few churning sections, to surely get you headbanging.

The segues between movements are dramatically improved. From heavy parts to beautiful melodic sections, the songs flow. Also, the layering of melodies and solos is more musically correct. The drum machine sounds even more like a real human, but keeps

The production is also slightly improved here, allowing the guitars to be a bit cleaner and the vocals come across a bit less raw. Sadly, this takes a little of the rawness of Kekal's debut away, but not much.

The only real low point I can think of is Jeff's clean vocals on here. As a guitarist, Jeff is one of the best, but when he sings it's nearly painful. Kind of weepy, kind of whiny, and all emo. Not good. Gladly, this was improved dramatically after this album.

I'd say that comparing Embrace the Dead with Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams is like comparing Defenders of the Faith to Screaming for Vengeance. The first is heavier, rawer, and faster, whereas the actual songwriting improved on the second. Both are worth owning, but many will argue which is better.