Deeper Underground (2018)
11th full-length studio album

Release Dates

Kekal, May 15, 2018 (digital)
Hitam Kelam Records, May 15, 2018 (CD)
Hitam Kelam Records, September 2018 (cassette tape)

Track Listing

  1. Root Of All Evil
  2. Sanity Away from Sanity
  3. Speed Of God
  4. Rotten In The House
  5. Deeper Underground
  6. The Many Faces Of Your Face
  7. Revealment
  8. Triple Evils
  9. End Of Hegemony

Total Running Time: 45:54

Album Description

"Deeper Underground" is Kekal's 11th full-length album, and it marks with the return of deep energetic simplicity derived from the band's extreme metal and crust/anarcho punk roots, while maintaining its electronic music atmosphere as the basis for dialectical and emotional expositions of the lyrics.

As a whole album, "Deeper Underground" aims to present a liberating energy and to share an authentic insight to the audience. It tells about existential issue: how to navigate life through all of these pain and suffering. The music examines the depths of philosophical and spiritual knowledge of existence, not in order to reserve all rights, but to reverse all wrongs. As metallic as it is synthesized, as organic as it is electronic, Kekal remains true to its core psyche in delivering music not only to feed our brains, but also to stir our souls.

Release Note

CD version is a limited-edition released by Hitam Kelam Records. Digital download can be chosen in either high-bitrate mp3 or other audio formats (lossless FLAC and ALAC available). Both can be purchased through Kekal Bandcamp page. See below for purchasing information.

Credits

Produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Jeff Arwadi at Ideation Station for Kekal. Artwork and partial photography by Levi Sianturi. Track 7 features vocals and partial lyrics by Voxlucis.

Since 2009, Kekal has no official band members.

Digital Album - Download + Streaming

Direct from Kekal @ Bandcamp.
Lossless formats (FLAC, ALAC) or high-bitrate mp3 available for audio download, plus streaming from Bandcamp app. Download comes with a 12-page digital booklet in PDF format.

Other digital music stores + online streaming sites:
iTunes / Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music, Resonate, Amazon Digital, Shazam, etc...

Free Download Deeper Underground

Free download codes for this album are available from Bandcamp.
Email kekalband@gmail.com and ask for your free download code.

Physical Album - Limited edition CD + Cassette

CD - Order direct from Hitam Kelam Records (orders within Indonesia only).
The CD comes with a 12-page booklet and a card with unique code for free digital download + streaming @ Bandcamp.
Cassette Tape.
Cassette tape is a very limited edition of 100 copies. Ideal for collectors.



I’ve been listening to the entire “Deeper Underground” album since the day you sent me the advanced digital copy. Overall, this is a very strong release and could be easily regarded as one of Kekal’s finest albums to date. While not radically new in terms of styles and explorations even there are still many surprising twists and turns that made Kekal unique, however I feel that there’s more depth to the music than what is being presented in the surface. There’s a significant influence from d-beat and reggae/dub rhythms in many of the songs, but you did it in such a way without crossing-over into those genres, and without taking out of context of the familiar “Kekal sound”. How do you feel about the album, now that it is all done?

Well, I feel there’s a sense of accomplishment.. Also I really felt some very positive mood throughout the entire process of recording and production.. It didn’t happen quite often, maybe the last time I felt similar like this was during recording “The Habit of Fire” album in 2006.. The music also shows a different kind of energy, although I agree it’s a familiar Kekal sound and not radically new, but there’s this weird feeling like you’ve done the right thing.. Maybe it’s something to do with the bold lyrics and general message, which I think this album offers the most.. I can’t really draw any similarity to the other 10 Kekal albums, which is good on itself, you know.. This is Kekal’s 11th studio full-length album, and when you’ve reached that amount of albums in your discography, it would be really tough to come up with something decent and fresh, let alone revolutionary.. Very very few bands or musicians that are able to make a revolutionary album after releasing 10 albums.. I can only think a few, one of them is Judas Priest with the “Painkiller” album in 1990, that was their 12th studio album I think and it blew my mind on how they managed to do that.. Most of the times bands would end up doing the rehash of their past discography after releasing 5 or so albums, but without matching the level of energy and adventure of the earlier albums, like it’s just the tired version of their old albums.. I tried my best to not enter into that trap by repeating old patterns from the past albums, that’s why fresh new elements have to be introduced without throwing away the core elements of the band..

As for the musical influences, yes, it was all intentional that the album presents more raw energy from punk again, I mean the early 80s punk, because in the beginning Kekal was somewhat 50-50 between punk & extreme metal.. I consider “Deeper Underground” as the ‘spiritual successor’ of Kekal’s old 1996 demo tape “Contra Spiritualia Nequitiae” in terms of the whole energy and spirituality in the music.. So musically, the new album is focusing more on the basic energy than structural intricacy.. I deliberately wrote shorter songs, more simple and straightforward arrangements, and wasn't playing too much with odd-time signatures and things that can disrupt the natural flow of music.. So basically this album has a very significant influence from the 80s punk especially from early 80s bands as diverse as Discharge, Bad Brains, Wipers, Amebix, etc.. Also I’ve enjoyed reggae and its stylistic derivatives like dub, etc. for almost 2 decades now, and I can see there’s a good connection between reggae music and what Kekal is doing.. Reggae beats can carry lots of emotional intensity if done correctly, if you don’t take its beats out of context of emotion or even spirituality behind the music..

How about the lyrics? I know you put a lot of efforts into the lyrics in order to let the listeners to also read them this time. How important are the lyrics on this album, compared to the music?

Lyrics always become the integral part of music, but they can be done in two ways, either as the skin or as the soul of the music.. Some music doesn’t need the vocals at all to speak what’s inside your heart, but it can still become a vessel for spiritual expression, like John Coltrane on “A Love Supreme” album for example.. So in that case, you put the “lyrics” to the music without singing the actual words, and we can feel the lyrics without hearing the words being sung or spoken because the soul is there.. You could also write and sing so many lines of lyrics that don’t speak to your soul, like the majority of current mainstream pop music.. On this album, I deliberately wrote the lyrics first, as some sort of poetry, without knowing where the music would go, and then the music would just wrap around the lyrics.. The mood, tonality, even tempo would be determined based on the lyrics..

Tell us what's the meaning behind "The Many Faces of Your Face", and how did you come up with the subject matter?

The lyrics on "The Many Faces of Your Face" talk about the moment when you start to realize you are surrounded by systematic deceptions, that you previously were not aware of.. Pretty much just like the narrative in the 90s movie "The Truman Show" if you have watched it —the moment when Truman (played by Jim Carrey) started to become aware of all the oddities around him, and that he started noticing from small things and further inquiring them in order to connect the dots, that eventually led to the truth that reveals itself with the fact that he was surrounded by lies pretending to be real.. We pretty much live in the world full of lies and deceit without even realize it in the first place.. And that we are the victims of the systematic manipulations done by those in power who take side with the evil in order to dominate us.. There are many faces of evil: one face infiltrates the economic and financial systems, the other infiltrates media and entertainment, the other infiltrates governments, the other infiltrates religious organizations, and the list goes on and on.. So the song actually tell the message that we need to be very critical towards any religious dogma, product advertisement, government propaganda in the media, offers from banks or financial institutions for taking loans, and so on and so forth.. Being critical to human authorities and power is a good starting point in realizing these manipulations.. The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, encouraged us to question and question more, and not settled from what's being told in the first place.. He's known for this famous quote (told by his disciple Plato): "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Can you explain a little bit about the track "Triple Evils". It sounds a little bit scary with its slow-paced, brooding, cinematic, electronic/ambient/drone choral piece that could make some 5-minute goosebumps trip. What’s with the “Triple Evils”, and how did you come up with such composition? Any thoughts behind it?

“Triple evils” is the term coined by civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. It was based on his philosophy of nonviolent resistance against these triple evils of society: Racism, Militarism, and Economic Exploitation.. So basically, with the composition, I’d like to capture the reality in our society, that for so long we’ve been living in a place where these triple evils always exist and always become part of our ‘social fabric’, and they create ‘false awareness’ so that people would turn into apathy.. Most of the times, rather than to fight or resist these evils as a whole just like a person who would fight a cancer disease within the body, we tend to normalize and even consciously ignore them and deny them being exist, or just fight only one element of them but disregard the others.. That would create a so-called "cognitive dissonance". The music symbolizes this whole idea of cognitive dissonance, with the choir groups that appear to be confused and disoriented, singing in circles with no aims, while at the same time everything is believed to be ‘normal’ and life seems to be in harmony.. It is the condition where those in power always put us within their ‘box’, so we can no longer able to see what’s beyond, the true knowledge outside the box.. You could also feel the ugly monster lurking underneath the choirs, wanted to override them.. This depicts the spiritual battle.. And I decided to make the composition longer than necessary, at five and a half minutes, so that the dissonance could possibly affect you and made you feel discomforting, literally, as the music seems to go nowhere.. To me, this composition is a psychological approach to explain our human condition, when we share our existence with these triple evils, and that these demonic, evil forces —whatever name you would call, literally exist within our everyday life.. But by the grace of God more and more people have been awakened and public awareness towards this whole situation is advancing in a global scale..

Tell me more about the song “Revealment”, it features Voxlucis on vocals. It’s a really catchy song, albeit a little bit different from the rest of the songs on the album. How did it come about?

Well, first of all, I wanted to add some variety to the music, both stylistic variety as well as the atmosphere.. One of the catalysts is different vocals, because in music like this, vocals contribute a huge amount of shaping the character of the songs, so I don’t want the album to have only my vocals.. In the 2015 album “Multilateral” I ended up using a VOCALOID (singing software synthesizer) to achieve this, because I didn’t have enough time to ask around.. But this time, I was able to ask some musicians openly to contribute on the vocals and basically letting them to come up with original vocal melodies and possibly lyrics as well.. That would create more variety to the album.. I got probably around 5 or more responses, not that many, but I decided to seriously invited just 2 musicians for the album, and then it turned out only Voxlucis who was interested and able to commit in contributing the vocals.. I’ve known her for some years now, but haven't met in person yet because she lives in Jakarta.. I think she’s a very talented musician and singer and her vocal character fits very well with the music of Kekal.. At the same time I also had an idea to do one song which has some more pop sensibility to it.. Her vocal character is more suitable for this song than my vocals.. And she’s done a great job in enhancing the energy of the song itself.. Everything is better that what I expected..

You are also releasing a book, or a “reflective essay” entitled “Exploring The Depths of The Underground”, digitally as a bonus PDF when downloading “Deeper Underground” album from Bandcamp. This is quite a surprise. Can you tell more about this? Is there any particular reason on releasing this essay alongside the album?

When I started to work on the album, I was already aware that the lyrics would become the central element, because some of the subject matters are very important to be shared and discussed in my opinion, given the nature of how the world is going right now.. So I wrote all the lyrics first without thinking about the music, and then let the music to wrap around the lyrics.. I realized that many of the lyrics demand further explanation, because the lyrics were written in a poetic way.. So then I decided to write some essays, in different times actually within about a year or so, and then compiled them together into a collection of essay and release it as an eBook.. You can also call it a reflective essay because most of the subject matters on the lyrics are also somewhat connected to my own experience, and some of them are quite personal and also talk about my own awakening and the process of transformation I’m currently undertaking.. But the book itself is not about me, it’s not a memoir or some kind.. I am only sharing my own personal experience as an example of story that relates to the lyrical subject matters.. The writing deals with philosophy, spirituality, some psychology and even history.. I felt that I need to explain more in-depth because I consider these subject matters as important and relevant for these days.. It is mainly for Kekal’s audience, the ones who listen to the new album, so that’s why I put this as a ‘bonus feature’, as an accompaniment to the album.. But I also make it available individually, so non-Kekal listeners can read it too.. You can read the essay without having to listen to the album.. It works either way..

Tell us about the final track “End of Hegemony”, what are you trying to convey?

Thanks for this question.. I appreciate it.. It is about the ultimate end of an evil empire, but it doesn’t focus on the empire in its physical form, as one empire may be replaced by another empire.. The song digs towards the core, the basic of our current human condition: like greed, domination, etc. All empires are formed based on those.. The song is based on the basic knowledge that the world is ruled or dominated by evil forces.. These supernatural forces are the spirits of the empires throughout the history of civilizations up until the present times.. The will of empires are conquest and domination upon mankind and the whole world, it behaves with the pyramid system: taking from the bottom and transporting upwards towards the top of the hierarchy.. Domination is inherently evil, and sadly many of us choose to take a side with these forces because of deceptions.. As you may find out, any system like political ideology, religious dogma, economic system, media and entertainment can be manipulated by those in power to benefit them, because systems are just vessel and even the people who align themselves to the devil or evil forces are the vessel too because they wanted power, wealth and domination in the first place.. It is about conquest and establishing hierarchy within human existence.. Whether it is a global world domination or even down to organizational domination, there’s always victims in every conquest.. They also work as the great deceiver, so that what people think is ‘good’ or even ‘godly’ in the surface may be deceptive, as what we see how many people wanted to be ‘good and holy’, but then fall and be blinded by the religious dogma, mesmerized by certain religious leaders, etc.. There’s a term “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.. We can only see from the outcomes, from the ‘fruits’.. This is where I point explicitly in the album about the dangers of religion, and I am very serious about this..

And towards the end of the lyrics, the song talks about the hope of humanity across the nations of this Earth to finally see the ending of the evil empire, I mean all these victims who suffer and die because of conquest and domination by those in power who are influenced by the evil forces.. But this song has more spiritual tendency than just hoping for the end of one empire in its physical manifestation at any given time, in which right now many people have come to realize.. It doesn’t stop at that point, allegorically it is about the hope for humanity to be free again and restored from the domination of evil powers in the spiritual realms, those that deceive the minds in the first place.. So this ending of a hegemony works both ways, in the physical world as well as in the spiritual world..

The new album feels very much like a ‘concept album’ to me. All the songs are connected together and they tell the whole bigger story, I’d say it’s even more than the 2007 album “The Habit of Fire” which alone is the concept album. Do you think that way?

I never intended “Deeper Underground” to become a concept album in the first place, unlike “The Habit of Fire” which was intentional since the beginning.. There was no plan for that, but I wrote these lyrics during an important event in my life, which became some sort of a poetic journal that at some level tell the process of my awakening and transformation.. It's all gradual, and up until now I feel that the process is still ongoing.. I explained quite a bit about this in the reflective essay which can be read and downloaded for free..

You said that writing the lyrics for this album has helped yourself being awakened and transformed. How do you see your spiritual journey or awakening? Anything you want to share?

It's hard to explain, but the shift was quite intense, the good thing is that the process was a little bit slow on me to begin with, so I didn't get freaked-out.. Firstly, there’s this shifting process of our awareness, going from one level to another.. People can explain it as one's consciousness or soul being awaken from the sleep state.. It’s about the process where soul is reconnecting itself to the Ultimate Source we all come from, which is God.. With that, there comes the realization of what life is and the elements of it, and things start to uncover.. We are all the so-called the image of God, and God is the source of all creation.. God is love, and this also means God and love are not two separate forces, God and love has always been united in oneness, and we're actually part of this oneness prior to the point of separation a long time ago.. This Godly love, the unconditional love, is the only spiritual force that survives beyond the realm of death.. Everything else will die, or in other word will not be able to make it into the higher dimensions.. Through this unconditional or Godly love, our consciousness will transcend beyond our current 3rd dimension where the current Earth and our physical bodies reside.. Love is the creative force.. We all exist because of love.. But at the same time, there’s evil continuously roaming and ruling this present world, and has become a part of the world order that creates suffering and pain throughout the ages.. In that regard, since the fall of humanity that eventually led to the birth of ‘civilizations’, we humans have become susceptible to evil and it manifests into greed, envy, become obsessed with material belongings and status, obsessed with death, war, and also to deny and even contribute to the suffering of the entire creation.. We can easily be deceived by these evil forces who work intensely in the forms of manipulations in every aspect of life.. But, of all things, one thing that's certain is that in the end, evil cannot access this dimensional shift towards God.. It has been cut-off from God, and it cannot follow the path of transcendence where love goes, because evil is not and cannot be part of God.. if that makes any sense to you.. This journey is all about a journey towards home, towards the reunification with the Source..

So even when human species may go extinct at some point in the future, which I believe is not going to be too far away from now in the wake of the 6th mass extinction event (in forms of climate catastrophe and other global disasters both natural and human-induced), in the end, if we align ourselves to God's love and be faithful to God instead of all these worldly materialistic affairs, our souls or consciousness will be fully connected to God.. We will then be transformed for the complete unity with God in a whole new dimensional shift.. You can call that Heaven, or the New Earth, Parallel Universe or whatever names.. This makes possible because of grace: a manifestation of God's love for the whole humanity.. I believe in love, and evil won’t stand against this magnitude of love.. We just need to throw our self into a total and complete surrender to God, taking a so-called “leap of faith”, and with this, we have to let go our own ego, our selfish mindset that contributes to our choices and our attachments to these world affairs.. Faith is not creed, and not a thought-process or belief.. I mean by faith is that we need to be willing to let go everything that we currently hold on to, the ego system: either pride, envy, greed, material wealth, status, unhealthy and destructive lifestyles, and many other things including the belief in religious dogmas that most of the times are corrupted in the sense they can divert away from God and into the paths of evil, —not by our own strength but by God’s grace..

As a self-proclaimed anarchist, how do you see the world? How much practical you would place your views politically and socially?

I identify myself as a philosophical anarchist than a political one, even though philosophical anarchism would reflect political views of course, as any philosophy would relate itself to politics.. But I’m not interested in the so-called partisan politics, in the sense that I’m not interested to become a member of any political party.. However I’m aware that we can’t just become lukewarm or apathetic to all the evil and injustice we see everyday.. A stance has to be taken.. There are too much deceptions going around, way beyond what we normally perceive, and I see people fall into those deceptions.. The global power elite just utilize identity politics in order to slam people at the bottom-level into each other, so they would end up fighting each other instead of fighting for justice, for universal love and common good.. You know the word ‘divide et impera’ means, it means divide and conquer.. Identity politics (a tendency for people of a particular religion, race/ethnicity, social background, etc., to form political ‘alliances’) are plainly deceptions used to divide people at the grassroots level.. They are just wasting our time and energy, and even wasting our life.. As an anarchist, my mind has to always be reminded to the potential of those in power using their authority to dictate the policies in the society that would benefit only some elements of society at the expense of others, even that I’m not against any authority for authority’s sake.. Any human authority should be held accountable, in a way that the position has to be used to serve the whole community and society, not the other way around.. My take of Anarchism also goes further to the spiritual level, by being critical to the authorities inside the human-led organizations such as government, religion, corporation, media, etc. as these forces of evil can easily infiltrate into the system and its leadership, and I’m very serious on this issue. Here I quote Paul the Apostle who wrote back in the 1st Century before he was imprisoned and sentenced during the rule of Roman emperor Nero: “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

(from the October 7, 2017 interview)

Halfway through the album, so far "Deeper Underground" seems like a return to the extreme metal era of Kekal with the trademark of harsh vocals, plenty of blast beats, wall-to-wall guitars, etc. Although the electronics and avant-garde elements are still very much alive, but metal has been put up-front again. Any particular reason why?

It just happens.. I didn't plan this before.. I started the album with writing some of the lyrics, from there you could feel the temperament of the songs, and then you would know what kind of music that would fit to go along with these lyrics.. Crazy as it seems, but I tell you, originally I thought the music would fall between the styles of "Multilateral" and "Autonomy" - that means it's not even as 'metallic' as the 2015 album "Multilateral", and "Multilateral" itself isn't metal enough in terms of normal or popular definition of what metal music 'should' sound.. But it did turn out to be much more metallic than I thought, just because the lyrics demand it.. I still can't believe it until now, because I don't listen to metal music these days, so I still don't have enough working references of metal music in my head right now.. It's pretty much 'accidental metal' so to speak..

Also, I noticed the lyrics are bolder, angrier and more straight-forward, meaning that you stay away from the vague, multi-interpretation approach like you did on the previous 3 or 4 albums. Care to explain?

2017 is the year of historic significance, meaning that many things happen this year that will affect the future of our planet in all aspects: political, social, economic, climatic.. You already feel all of these, right? They are all inter-connected, and the scale is global.. 2018 will become a much more difficult year with all the ongoing problems unresolved, plus future problems to cope with.. There will be more natural disasters, more social unrest, and even to a possible large-scale world war.. I feel, strongly, that there is an urge to address these issues in a more direct, blunt, straight-forward manner, especially because people tend to fall into identity politics.. That's how the new lyrics came about.. I started to write the lyrics in 2016, that was during my relocation process to another city in Canada.. There has been some level of spirituality involved, almost like a set of poetry being written during my soul-searching and personal transformation.. I consider "Deeper Underground" as a very important album for me, and hopefully for Kekal's listeners as well. That would re-assure the audience about what Kekal stands for..

So what does Kekal stand for, and is there any specific, common themes on this album's lyrics? I know the fact that this isn't a full concept album such as "The Habit of Fire", but from the first 5 songs that were released so far, they seem to tell one bigger story. Any explanation? How is the reaction from Kekal fans in this case?

When Kekal officially released its first demo tape in 1996, we came out with the title "Contra Spiritualia Nequitiae", meaning 'against the spiritual forces of evil' in Latin, and that has become the core stance of Kekal.. Somehow it got misunderstood as a religious theme and Kekal got wrongly-classified as a religious band and so on in the beginning, but it was a spiritual theme, not a religious one.. Being 'against evil' is not a religious jargon, it is an everyday struggle.. There's evil at work within religion as well, obviously, and Kekal is against that one too.. Evil is the spiritual force that infiltrates the human soul, the human heart - not heart as a biological organ, but you know what I mean.. Greed is one of the manifestations of the evil that resides within human, the other ones are envy, hate, self-pride or self-love, etc.. Now fast forward to "Deeper Underground", basically the album starts with a song called "Root of All Evil" which tells about greed and love of money as the main topic, and that continues to tell how greed and love of money affect our world in forms of the abuse of capitalism as a system, exploitation, corruption and so on, then to show all the outcome: the life of intense pain, suffering, misery and death.. "Deeper Underground" as a whole album, tells about existential issue: how to navigate life through all of these pain and suffering so often being experienced by us common people, and also exposing the feeling of brokenness and helplessness, and that's when the spiritual factor kicks in.. You cannot get into the spiritual level of what is brokenness and what is helplessness, without you feeling broken and helpless in the first place..

The other message is also to take a bolder stance against evil as a spiritual force, even that means you may need to offend people by that.. This is a very serious existential issue, and I have to take this very seriously.. I've read many books and done some historical research during writing the lyrics for this album.. Never did I write any lyrics backed up by research this deep in the past.. Writing for "Deeper Underground" really pushed myself to the next level of inner pressure, and it crushed me emotionally, but I had no choice.. It's important to learn more about history from many perspectives and obtain the knowledge on global issues of human suffering, so that the lyrics wouldn't be just parroting popular opinions, and to avoid the band into becoming a mere echo chamber.. And this, consequently, also helps transforming myself personally, to step out from the life of comfort.. I would need extra knowledge to explore the depths of the topics covered in the lyrics, even though that same knowledge actually hit me right in my face and told me how wrong I was before I started to dig into it, how I had been a victim of misinformation throughout the years.. This album is very critical towards the current issues of religion, economic system, politics, and any platform that supports social injustice, and also opposing issues in the society like racism, classism, and the hierarchical pyramid of human privilege that creates systemic oppression by the top towards the bottom end.. With those issues, it is far too easy to jump into the political and ideological tone, but I try not to get into that area because the main problem is what drives our human condition in the first place.. All in all, I think it's a very bold, uncompromising album, that even caught many Kekal's longtime audience by surprise.. The lyrics appear to be offensive to some, because they tell the reality of the situation of this world and the human condition..

I can understand why your lyrics may end up offending some people and some Kekal fans as you said. The lyrical message of "Sanity Away from Sanity" and "Root of All Evil" are examples of the issues that are detrimental to our world. How much do you think you would be able to leverage?

First of all, I don't write lyrics in order to make an argument, or to voice an opinion, or to fight people who hold different views of the particular topic.. That's not the role of an artist.. Lyrics should be taken as a thought-provoking element, and as the conversational point between people.. When I wrote the lyrics that I deem important, I had to educate myself through the search for references whether they are from the historical facts, theories or science models.. They provide a bigger picture that could lead to a better understanding on an issue.. I don't know how much these lyrics would affect Kekal's audience, they may fall on deaf ears, but I really hope people would read the lyrics of the new songs as well, not only just listening to the music.. I still see music as a form of expression, and that Kekal itself is a vessel or medium that carries that expression..

I wonder if there's any sort of practical message that you are going to address with this album?

Practical message? Well, to be honest with you, I hope people will not fall into the narrow identity politics because that is the condition that 'those in power' (the global players/world's 'imperial' powers) want in the first place: to divide and conquer.. I've been talking about the danger of identity politics since the 2003 album "1000 Thoughts of Violence" with the lyrics of the song "Violent Society".. Here I quote the excerpt of the lyrics: mass confusion in the wake of grand ignorance. political maneuvers, dancing on a vicious circle. "divide et impera", a plot of reducing power of pawns. we people are just too uneducated to be aware. I know it sounds rather cocky to say 'educate yourself', but we do need to educate ourselves first on how the world works.. Only this way, through knowledge, by read more books from different perspectives and by watching the phenomena around the world closely, we can avoid being pulled into identity politics..

The music of Kekal was being associated, in the beginning, as either black metal and/or christian metal (some call it unblack/white metal) genres, but at the same time you clearly oppose being part of both scenes, and disapprove of those labeling when it comes to the direction of Kekal. I mean in past interviews, you didn't feel comfortable seeing Kekal being associated with those genres. But later on when people started to recognize Kekal as a progressive metal or avant-garde metal band, you seemed to be okay and even embrace these genres somewhat. You always agree when the media call Kekal as progressive or avant-garde band, but not black metal or christian metal. Can you explain why?

Well, Kekal is a progressive band at its core.. And with the word 'progressive' it is not just limited to the established music genres alone like progressive rock, progressive metal & so on, but it's more embedded in the band's psyche: What does the word 'progressive' mean to you as a band, and how would you embody this progressiveness within the realm of expression.. The musical exploration comes very naturally, as the result of not being afraid to incorporate many styles of music and across various genres.. Being open and not afraid of differences are traits of a progressive mindset.. That's why Kekal never really fits within both black metal and also religious christian metal scenes.. Both of these scenes, although seem to be the opposite in the lyrical content, actually share a very similar mentality.. They want to conserve or maintain purity and exclusivity within the scene, like being 'true' or 'pure' is perceived and valued as 'the best' - and undermine or even attack anything that doesn't hold that value.. Kekal is against such mentality of elitism and exclusivism.. As I said before, if you're being open, you can't be exclusive at the same time..

There's an official video released for the song "Rotten in The House" in August. What is it all about, and what do you wish to communicate through the video?

There are two things about that song. The first one is the lyrical topic, and the second one is the topic in which the video portrays.. They are all related, but not really the same.. I'll be brief.. Lyrically, "Rotten in The House" talks about the religious corruption; how religion could easily distort or corrupt the mind and that it has become the 'ideal' platform in which evil intents would sneak in because of the dogma - Dogma is where doctrines, laws and traditions are being constituted as truth, and cannot be criticized or questioned.. Then it would easily corrupt your moral and conscience.. I explained quite a bit about dogma on the discussion about the lyrics of the other song "Speed of God".. The video, however, tells a little bit different story, although still related to the topic on the lyrics but it tells more from the psychological standpoint.. About human perceptions that have been distorted to the point of confusion - so that propaganda would easily be implemented, and also about mind control, mass hypnosis.. On the first scene, I picked the footage of 'dead dolls' lay abandoned as the symbol on how humanity becomes dead, rotten from the inside out, and that with the doll as a symbol, it doesn't really matter anymore whether you're dead or not because a doll is essentially not alive.. If you willingly let outside forces to control you, whether in the form of religious dogma, ideological propaganda, or product advertisement, you would become the doll or puppet.. That's the point of the video..

Do you consider "Rotten in The House" theme to be anti-religion? I understand there's a famous "opiate of the masses" quote in the lyrics as well.

Well, I don't see the song as anti-religion per-se, in terms of the context or the existence of religion.. But it is a criticism towards the application of religion that is very prone to corruption and distortion, and that alone, is capable enough to transform the dynamics in it and turn people into becoming cruel, evil monsters.. I take this song as a sounding alarm about the dangers of religion.. There's nothing wrong with the intentions or the main motivations behind why do people embrace religion in the first place, as it could also become the introduction to spirituality.. If that’s the case, good.. But on the other hand, we need to first admit that religion is a product of our corrupt human condition, so that means it is very prone to abuse and distortion, like I said before.. Oftentimes, people choose to involve deeply into religion not because they want spiritual growth, but just to get away from the life of misery that they experience everyday, an escapism, so that they can 'reverse' their experience to become somewhat 'positive' for them and even 'empower' them.. It's almost the same as the use of drugs in order to make you relax, to 'help' you get a good sleep, get high and forget all the problems for a moment.. But the danger is also present, like in drugs, religion could become an addictive agent.. Its application could gradually damage human sanity, common-sense and conscience.. There's a proven, direct correlation between addiction to religion and mental illness, and I'm not joking..

You talked earlier about your personal transformation. How much do you think you have changed, and to what degree does Kekal, or more specifically, your research for the lyrical references, give an influence in your personal change? Care to share an example?

This is a very tough question.. I don't know if I can really answer this to your satisfaction.. No doubt, Kekal has transformed my life for the better, because it allows me, or even compels me to look in the mirror and reflect.. I am feeling very grateful for this.. I think I've gone through the so-called artist's journey, which life has taught lessons through daily experiences, and with the naked interaction between the subject of the work and the worker himself, it enables all the previously 'guarded doors' to open.. I always take music very seriously, although I'm not able to make a life out of it.. Deep inside, music has played a great role in educating myself and help open my eyes to see the world more clearly.. As a person, I don't think I have changed much, but my perspective, my view towards the world and its affairs have changed gradually, and that's mainly because of the work in Kekal has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and look beyond 'what is seen' about the current state of the world, and even the state of mankind.. It's like you would come up with questions after questions, and determined to look for the answers.. Also to some degree, Kekal has tweaked my lifestyle too.. For example, I'm living a relatively modest life right now - almost to the point of living a simple, minimalist lifestyle.. I'm feeling much happier this way.. Now I only have one credit card, I feel better to keep it just that and be content with it.. It is important to be disciplined on the spending and to keep an eye of monthly expenses on the credit card.. So that you'll make sure you would be able to pay-off all your expenses every month and avoiding the interest to kick in.. It seems crazy in the era of high personal debts and hyper-consumerism in today's society, but I have a very good reason for that, and I owe Kekal for influencing me in that case.. To take a bold stance, it should start from myself.. I realized that I need to take action, and to go against the mentality of consumerism, against excessive and impulsive buying of stuff and luxury we don't need.. Well, many stuff that are being offered on the market, we actually don't need.. To live well means that we need to confront all the 'dreams of good living' facade, so often wrongly portrayed by the product advertisements and reality TV, and so often connected only with money.. To live well actually means to achieve contentment and joy that no money can buy, and even if we suffer, we would suffer well..

Do you ever find lifestyle change to be hard to achieve? Any factor that could get in the way, you think?

Well, first thing is that you will need to confront social pressure more than the lifestyle change itself.. You will need to honestly feel fine being seen as a 'freak' or different from the majority of your friends and relatives, especially in the age of social media.. Not everyone can handle this, where it is far too easy to be envious of others.. And this kind of social pressure isn't just about lifestyle alone, it's affecting your choice as well, and that there are consequences for not conforming to popular norms.. For example, people laughed at me when I told them that I still use older computer software for music production or design - some even already 10 years old or more.. People looked at me with cynical eyes when I told them I have never owned any Apple products, ever.. People think I'm crazy because I haven't watched any Game of Thrones episode, and I no longer watch TV at all.. Even if social or peer pressure is not really a problem because you have a 'thick skin', at the end of the day this could affect perception of others towards you.. People would disregard and won't take you seriously anymore, because they think you're just a freak and it's better to be avoided.. That may lead to isolation.. That happens to me, actually..


 


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