Kekal - Embrace the Dead
When I ordered this CD I had no idea what to expect having only heard several songs off Kekal's new release Acidity. What you get is basically the opposite of Acidity with raw, intense, almost progressive black metal in the vein of Horde, but with slightly better production quality. The CD took a few spins to appreciate since I am a fan of a well-produced album, but now that I can get past the production I am digging this album a lot more.
The CD starts off with a short keyboard intro before some blazing guitars and hard-hitting drums pulverize your speakers. After about a minute and a half some tortured black metal vocals rip through your skull. The vocals have been compared to that of the mighty Emperor, but I see more of a comparison with that of Satyricon, although more raspy. On the downside, it's nearly impossible to decipher what the singer is saying even with the vocal sheet in front of you. On the plus side is the level of emotion in this song especially near the end with the female vocals and the guitars both dripping with sadness as they ask the question "Crying in confusion/Who will save this world.../...from its destruction?"
"The Fearless and the Dedicated" starts off with some insane guitar work that you can hear quite clearly even though the production is a tad muddy. I just love how the instruments go so well with the vocals. The drums are also noteworthy especially since they were done on a drum machine which I had no idea of until several songs had passed and I wanted to know who deserved the accolades. This third song is definitely one of my favorites. It is a truly epic song (weighing in at 7:51). Also, noteworthy is how the band mixes the raspy black metal vocals with some clean male and female vocals.
The next song is the beautiful instrumental track called "Healing", which is a nice break from the intense black metal. Oddly enough this song is quite well produced showing that the rather muddy production on the other songs was done on purpose which I don't quite understand since the CD would've been 5x better with tight production.
"The Final Call" is next up with some fast guitar and drums at the beginning. Also, the vocals are better on this track as you can hear more clearly what the singer is saying. I also like how the band changes the song around so you aren't hearing the same thing over and over again. Oddly enough the drums sound for a big part of this song like they belong in a hardcore band.
The second to last song is "Scripture Before Struggle" which has slightly better production than the tracks before it. The song starts off rather slowly with some keyboards and drumming and then some rather emotional guitar work before a devastating bass line hits. It has everything one could ask for in an intro. The vocals are also good; not nearly as raspy as before. All in all, this is a solid track kind of slow and plodding at times, but still one of my favorites.
The last track "Millenium" starts off rather oddly with what sounds like wind and then what honestly sounds like a children's wind up toy. The guitars and drumming slowly get louder and louder while the wind up toy fades out and then comes back again. The vocals then come in with some crazy double kick drumming. At about the 6 minute mark of this song there's some spoken vocals and then the song slows right down with some female vocals. Despite this song being rather drawn out at 10 minutes long it is still a great song.
I also love the strong, bold Christian content of the lyrics with the song "Embrace the Dead" saying that God feels our pain and that His Son's death gave us eternal life. "The Fearless and the Dedicated" urge people to "stand for the truth" while "Millenium" states that only God's love for us will remain constant.
All in all this is a great album, but the production kind of detracts from it. If this CD had the same production as Acidity then it would've blown it out of the water, but it was well worth the $8 I slapped down for it.
Review By: Joel Hemmerling
Label: Flesh Walker Records, July 2000
Total Songs: 8
Total Time: 49:40
Tracklisting: 1. Longing for the Truth, 2. Embrace the Dead, 3. The Fearless and the Dedicated, 4. Healing, 5. The Final Call, 6. From Within, 7. Scripture Before Struggle, 8. Millenium
Best Songs: Tracks 3, 7, and 8
Band Lineup: Azhar - bass/vocals, Jeff - guitars/vocals/keyboards, Leo - guitars, Habil - keyboards, Vera - vocals, The Black Machine - drums
Band Website: http://www.kekal.cjb.net