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Gelap is a Progressive Gothic Metal band hailing from Indonesia. The band formed in 2006 and “Gerbang Timur” is their debut release. First only available on cassette, but later also released on good old cd.
Indonesian Gothic Metal. I must say I had no notion whatsoever of the Gothic Metal scene in this country and I certainly hadn’t encountered a band from there before (although metal-archives returns fifteen hits when doing a search, certainly more than I expected). Anyway, not knowing what to expect gave me all the more reason to be excited when the band agreed to send me a copy of their album for review.
On to the music. The album starts off at full force, after a short up-tempo drum and keyboard passage the guitars kick in with a chugging riff and the vocals kick in. The song is pretty fast for Gothic Metal and the Progressive elements are also quite obvious due to the rhythms that are incorporated in the song structure. Despite all of this the band still manages to create the right atmosphere needed for a good Gothic Metal song. Of note is the great amount of variety that the band displays from the start. There are fast straight forward passages, chaotic (in a good way) keyboard passages and even a short passage where the piano takes on the center stage.
Furthermore, the band is graced with an excellent guitar player and they fully embrace this quality by making some room for a few excellent guitar leads. All of this variety seems to be the bands trademark, because the album more or less follows this routine. Notable exception being “Nanakanisura”, a tasteful ballad somewhat halfway through the album.
The vocals are handled by two female singers. The lead vocals are clean, somewhat deep, while the second singer has a higher tone and can pull of passages bordering on operatic. Both are excellent singers. The lyrics alternate between Indonesian and English. A nice touch, because it quite exceptional to hear a Gothic Metal song in this language, but it is also nice to hear some lyrics you can actually understand if you’re able to speak Indonesian. My knowledge of the language is next to none, but I must say I’m pleasantly surprised by the way the language sounds and how well it fits in with the music.
Downfall to all the variety the band incorporates in their songs might be that the music was a bit of a challenge to get into with the first few spins, because the songs don’t follow a traditional path and aren’t “easy on the ear”. After a few listening sessions though, I really began enjoying the music. The production is excellent too, making this release a winner on all fronts.
If the other bands from Indonesia are of similar quality as Gelap is, it’s certainly a scene worth checking out if you’re into Gothic Metal.