Industrial metal is a tricky genre, especially when it starts incorporating black and death elements, all too quickly can it become a saccharine symphonic mess or a basic black/death venture with electronic items tacked on hastily at the end of the songwriting process.
I’m pleased to report that Kekal avoids these pitfalls and achieves greatness and originality in its end product. "Deeper Underground" is a well-realized and mature record, it displays a great skill in composition and what is and isn’t needed to make songs great.
Musically "Deeper Underground" sits comfortably between the black and death realms, falling into that murky genre of 'extreme metal', unlike a lot of bands in that style Kekal doesn’t feel toothless or directionless. The influences on this record are widespread, I feel the impact of bands like Arcturus, DHG, Aborym, Death, Strapping Young Lad and The Project Hate to name a few. The wide range in influence benefits the music vastly as it never feels like an imitation of any band in particular.
The songs display many elements from grandiose melodic passages, sparse industrial sections (a portion of "Sanity Away from Sanity" reminds me of "Does Not Compute" from Aborym’s groundbreaking "With No Human Intervention") all the way through to punky escapades. At times ethereal female vocals break-up the extremity, providing respite from the barrage of intensity only to relent and send the listener spiraling back down into the fury of the cold industrial machine.
The production on the album is perfect, it’s crisp, clear and imparts no warmth into the sound — exactly how I like an industrial album to sound. Each item is given space and despite the number of elements in play at any one time, everything is distinguishable.
I understand that this album will not be to everyone’s taste, what I don’t understand though is how I haven’t heard of Kekal before, this album is far superior to the dross that Malfeitor has been producing with Aborym since he kicked out Nysrok and far intricate than Mysticum’s last outing. In the realm of industrial black metal, there are few bands I can think of that are producing content at this level with the exception of Blacklodge and DHG. That they’re not represented by a larger label is criminal, I can only assume it has to do with their location — despite S.E.Asia possessing many great extreme bands so few make it to the global market — Impiety seems to be the exception to this rule.
Recommended listening for anyone that is into more adventurous extremity, for fans of industrial and more avant-garde projects, you’ll find a gem within this record.
Reviewed by Dan