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Kekal - The Habit of Fire CD (album) cover



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4 stars I have been listening to Kekal since their early, black/death metal days, and watch their 'progression' of style and musicianship from album to album. "The Habit of Fire" is their 6th full-length CD and they have been around for about 12 years, but yet there is still a long way for these guys to get the amount of attention they deserve, at least to worldwide prog-rock fans. Luckily, "The Habit of Fire" is their first album which gets the 'mainstream' distribution in North America (and better distribution in Europe as well), and thus the way to get better attention is bigger than their previous albums (which only available through independent metal music stores & mail-orders).

Musically, "The Habit of Fire" is simply displaying their own 'trend' of natural progression, which is more experimental and crazier than their previous one. I do have a hard time to classify this album into one sub-genre. The record labels (one in USA and one in Germany) tag it as 'Urban Avantgarde Metal'. But I'm not even sure that even term 'urban' and 'avant-garde' are the best way to describe the music on the album. The only way to know is by listening it by yourself!

"The Habit of Fire" is a 70 minute concept album that has 11 tracks, from a weird feedback-loop noise intro to the amazingly complex and progressive 15-minute epic song "Escapism". The songs are still connected with metal music at many points, but they also put every music style possible into the songs: danceable electronic beats, noisy industrial drones and harshness in the vein of Whitehouse and Einzurstende Neubauten, King Crimson-esque guitar chords and time-signature weirdedness, early Pink Floyd's soundscapes, jazz-fusion parts, and much much more, including hip-hop and death metal blast-beats drumming! Oh, not to mention the psychotic psychedelic parts that pop up here and there by surprise. But before you start to think that Kekal is just a mere knock-off of Mr Bungle and Fantomas (with all the 'throw everything in' trend), I have to say that it is not the case. Kekal has a certain amount of depth and flowing melodies put into their songs, which makes the cohesiveness and links between the mixed-up styles. Despite the complexity of the arrangements, super-detailed production, and the overly long playing time which make it extra hard to completely digest and understand at the first listen, this album has the kind of 'persona' which compels the listeners to listen to it over and over again without getting bored. And once you get hooked with it, you're gonna love this forever. Definitely progressive without being over-acting or comical. An essential release for avant-prog fans.

Kekal can be reached at

Report this review (#123845)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kekal has been around for a long time, over 10 years in fact. And they like to experiment and incorporate fresh new elements into their music. So when I first listened to "Habit of Fire", their debut release with Open Grave Records, I was not surprised to discover that they did not disappoint. The album incorporates many genres of music such as progressive metal, psychedelic rock, and even trip-hop. Starting out as more of a straightforward extreme metal band, they have taken something that might have grown stagnant and implemented a fresh new twist. Synthesizers and electronics are included liberally throughout the mix, but they don't overwhelm the songs, and the guitar sounds range from buzz-saw timbres to clean tones. The vocals are mainly clean, with just enough black metal style screaming to remind you that Kekal is a heavy band. And while being extremely experimental, the album stays accessible, with highlights like "Isolated I" and "The Gathering of Ants" being catchy enough for a wide range of audiences, but avant-garde enough to stop the most jaded of metal lovers in their tracks. In conclusion, Kekal is a band that is destined to stay fresh for a long time to come, if "Habit of Fire" is any example of the direction they are heading in.
Report this review (#127404)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When listening to Kekal, nothing else comes to mind except they always put lots of new things to every new album they made. The Habit of Fire is not the exception. Their sixth album delivers new ideas of what progressive metal should be: innovative.

Everyone knows that the progressive metal scene is getting stagnant nowadays, with no new and interesting things offered by the genre's most popular bands, and most of these bands just play highly-skilled instrumental-ability as a show-off factor, combined with boring songwriting and typical high-pitched vocals. But Kekal leaves lots of interesting things to be desired. They could make complex time-signature acrobats and fast technical guitar solos, but they chose to stick with the flowing songwriting, and focus on the genre cross-overs (jazz fusion, trip-hop, ambient, industrial, etc......) with a strong fixation towards electronic music.

There is a growing and demanding movement called 'avantgarde metal', to refer to metal bands that are progressive but not stagnant. Kekal may be fall under this new and hot movement, but Kekal will still be Kekal. Maybe in next couple albums they would become some sort of an electronic band rather than metal. It's a big question but I don't care, as long as they will still deliver high quality music. "The Habit of Fire" is an amazing album despite of its weirdness and eclecticism that made the band being tremendously underrated and overlooked everywhere. Essential to everyone that is looking for something fresh and unique.

Report this review (#133259)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink

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