Produced by Jeff Arwadi for Kekal. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jeff Arwadi at Ideation Station. Cover artwork by Soundmind Graphics. Photography by Jeff Arwadi and SCA. Released on 15 July 2022.
Since 2009, Kekal has become a band with no official members, but its former member(s) still continue to make music and to release albums for Kekal, albeit as anonymous contributors that are not published as music performers.
Where do you start to review a release like this from Indonesian avant-garde collective Kekal? Envisaged is this anonymous Jakarta-based band’s 13th full-length album.
It’s natural to try to draw comparrisons with other artists, to try to orientate yourself within the musical landscape, but there are so many here to make Kekal sound quite unique. Whether intended or not, I hear echos of Voivod, Die Krupps, History of Guns, Prong, Killing Joke, Helmet and End of Level Boss to name a few.
Envisaged is an album that was specifically created to celebrate The Great Awakening of humanity and Earth’s Ascension to the higher octave of vibrational frequency. All the songs were written during the recording process, to capture the spontaneous moments of insights within each and every passage of creation. The music and lyrics represent a creative spiritual journey following continuous revelations regarding the current events on Earth that have been unfolding especially in the past few years. If observed and put together in a continuum, they signify the process of global collective awakening and purification towards humanity’s grand destiny: to transcend the matrix and rise beyond the construct of duality.—Kekal, 2022
Stylistically, this album follows Kekal’s faithful tradition by utilizing avant-garde and alternative approach to various expressions of rock, metal and electronic music.
“Anthropos rising” (track 1) opens the album with an atmospheric motif that becomes the main guitar hook throughout the song. There is an almost acidic atonic riff that the song bounces along, accompanied by subtle supporting melodies. It’s a good track that incorporates a few Voivod-esque left field turns and a decidedly electronic middle-eight.
“Born anew” (track 2) features a riff that lurches with every crash of the cymbals before it opens into a melodic, mournful verse. In true prog-style the song heads off in search of new adventures: an avante garde, irregular-tempo passage, a full-out thrashing bark that emerges in an electronic dance hall with pounding bass and an almost choral thread weaving in and out of the beats.
While they may have started life as an extreme metal band, two tracks into this album, Kekal have firmly stated their intention to explore new territores. And it’s good.
“The alchemy of creation” (track 3) brings the tempo way down to what could easily become a atmospheric, post-apocalytic soundtrack. There is an epicness to this sonic landscape. It’s certainly not easily listening for most of the track, until about a minute out, like the dawn coming, we are bathed in the warmth of a beautiful melody that soothes our ears and leads us out.
“The ascending collection” (track 4) seems to have its feet planted firmly in good old rock and roll while it morphs and flows through various incarnations before finding a steady groove that could easily be the backing track to an Eminen rap. Extraordinary stuff here.
“Conduit of light” (track 5) finds us in a kind of Depeche Mode meets Killing Joke hybrid song. If you ignore the explosion of electronic beats, burps, tweets and whistles that chunters us along in the last third of the track.
“Anarchy in the new earth” (track 6) features a disturbing industrial rattle that wouldn’t sound out of place in a modern orchestral piece. The main melody has a start-stop bass pattern that the vocals bounce along. There’s a beauty to this song that is shatted in places by an ugly Voivod-like guitar riff. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album.
“Summer harvest” (track 7) opens with a gentle organ melody and heartbeat bass riff that gently carries the listener through to the end of the track.
Like a greatest hits of the album, “Zero point” (track 8) offers more of the same twisted and unpredictable melodies, beats and gothic vocals.
“Destiny recalibration” is a slow triumphant anthem that perfectly rounds out this unique collection of avant-garde, industrial and electronic fused slabs of rock and metal. The vocals sound suitably flat and sorrowful as the song plods its way through various movements before it builds, builds, builds and then suddenly comes to an abrupt stop.
It is easy to see why Kekal were one of the first Indonesian artists to gain notoriety in the North American and European scenes. Theirs is a unique sound, the fusion of a million influences, with an energy and determination to push boundaries.
This album isn’t an easy listen. It demands attention. I tried to listen to it while I was working at my desk but I kept getting distracted as the album shook me and took me off another directions. Extraordinary!
Review score: 85%