Beyond a Glimpse of Borneo
An interview with Kekal
by: Alex Cantwell
To the best of my knowledge, Kekal is the first Indonesian black metal band to gain international acclaim. The band is made up of four individuals: Jeff on guitar and vocals, Harry on vocals, Leo on guitar and Azhar on bass. They are certainly due some recognition for their recent release _Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams_, which combines raw emotion with speedy drums and lethal riffage. I recently conversed with Jeff via e-mail. Enter the world of Kekal. "We started out in 1995. At first, there was no intention to become a serious band, just a one-time session band by two long-time friends. We wrote and recorded four songs at that time. But on June 1996, we got a strong vision that we have to try again with more serious work. Then we decided to continue. The first official demo tape (_Contra Spiritualia Nequitiae_), which contained four new tracks and four tracks from a '95 session, was released in August '96. The responses were very positive and many say that the musical structure is influential." A line-up change occurred after the recording of the demo, and since then, they no longer thought of themselves as just a session band. In addition to Kekal, some of the band members are involved in other projects as well. "Some of the members are involved in various projects like Worldhate, Excision and Mournphagy. Worldhate's music is mostly noise-industrial and they will release a full-length CD on March through a Canadian label [called] Northern Assembly. Excision is my solo project and the style is more into the technical death metal kind of thing. Mournphagy is a grind/noisecore band that plays music as brutal as possible. Each of us has different musical interests, but we still love playing in Kekal very much, so we think that doing side-projects is the best way. Despite those projects, we are agreed that this band is the main priority."

CoC: How have sales been for _Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams_ since the CD pressing? I finally saw the CD version. Why a different cover?

Jeff: So far, more than 2000 copies have been sold in both the CD and cassette version, mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia. The first release of that album was a tape version only. It was released by THT Productions, a small Indonesian label. Then a label from Singapore [called] Candlelight Productions re-pressed that album and released their own version on both CD and tape formats. They didn't like the earlier cover, so they changed it.

CoC: Who do you have distribution through in Europe and America?

Jeff: The label said that they haven't got a major distribution deal yet for Europe and America, but it is available through some underground mail-order distros. The label is currently settling a deal for major distribution in the US.

Since Kekal are a pure black metal entity, I was surprised at Jeff's reply when asked who had influenced them. "Our influences are mainly '80s bands, which we grew up listening to. Bands like Iron Maiden, Bathory, Trouble, Helloween, Celtic Frost, Sodom, and Death to mention some."

CoC: Have you played shows? Where and with whom?

Jeff: We haven't been able to play live because we haven't got a permanent drummer that suits our music and the band's direction. We don't want to use a session drummer or a drum machine for live performances. But after all, we love playing gigs because we came from live bands before finally joining Kekal.

CoC: Have people in the black metal scene, or metal scene in general, been receptive to you in Indonesia?

Jeff: Yes, most of them have been receptive to us. The scene in Indonesia is now more focused on the music and not the religions, ideologies, political stances or whatever that might contradict each other. There's no need to call the scene "the metal scene" anymore if it's actually based on personal beliefs. As long as we play metal music, respect one another and not hate others because of their differences, there is no reason to be rejected in the metal scene. Of course there are individuals who hate bands with different beliefs, other than theirs, but it seems so childish.

CoC: When will there be new music available from Kekal, and do you have a title for a new CD? What about your other bands?

Jeff: We plan to record new material for the next album sometime this year. Some new songs are ready, but we haven't set the title for the album yet. My project Excision just has a cassette EP out. It's called _The Quality of Mankind_. It is available through THT Productions.

CoC: How does a Satanic band or a Christian band become popular in Asia, since the common Asian mindset regarding evil is different from that of the Western mindset?

Jeff: I don't think the people's mindset of what you call "evil" is different in Asia and Western countries. I think it's all the same. Evil is perceived as something that is outside the borders of universal moral order and is harmful to the individual and social life. So, acts like killing the fellow men, or torturing someone physically or mentally, are evil. But you know, teenagers like to do something shocking to their environment, and the content of evil itself has a strong tendency to shock people. Metal fans are mostly teenagers or in [their] early twenties. That's why many of them are excited with anything that has an evil image. Thus, the bands that wear that image have been welcomed and [have] become popular. Is it basically the same? The difference is, regarding your question, the people's views on Christianity. Christians are a minority here, and the condition of being a Christian in Indonesia is different from that in Western countries. In Europe or America, Christianity has taken a role in the political area. It can possibly be corrupted by those in the authorities by using power to oppress their people. But here, Christians, as a minority, are being oppressed by the regulations from the authorities. I can see that in the Western countries the antipathy towards Christianity is parallel with the antipathy towards governmental authorities. It doesn't happen here. Indonesia is known as a country that has many different religions and spirituality among the people, and each of them has a supernatural side. You can find Moslems, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and countless people involved with the occult religions here. Modernism has little effect, so the ideology of atheism is not too widespread. People believe in the supernatural entities and that's why they are more spiritually oriented [here]. I myself have experienced, seen and heard various supernatural happenings, like demonic exorcism and so on. This is one example of why I believe there are demons, angels, Satan and God, and [why I] believe which one is in charge.

CoC: Any final comments for the readers of CoC?

Jeff: Thanks for the interview. Please check out our homepage and if you are interested in our music, be sure you have a copy of our CD. You can e-mail <> for more info on how to obtain it. Keep supporting the underground!

(article submitted 14/3/1999)

3/10/1998 A Wasylyk 4 Kekal - Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams
RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2023 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.