The Painful Experience (2001)
3rd full-length studio album

Release Dates (original)

Fear Dark, October 2001 (CD)
THT Productions, October 2001 (Cassette)
Clenchedfist Records, October 2001 (CD)
HROM/HIRAX Records, August 2002 (Cassette)

Release Dates (re-issues)

Kekal, August 2015 (Digital - remastered)
Kekal, May 2023 (Digital - Updated Edition, remastered)
2023 Updated Edition CD TBA

Track Listing

  1. The Monsters Within
  2. Crave for Solid Ground
  3. Mean Attraction
  4. Like There's No Other Way to Go
  5. Behind Closed Doors
  6. After The Storm
  7. Given Words
  8. Militia Christi
  9. The Painful Experience
  10. Via Dolorosa

Album Description

The already known brand of intense, emotional, and aggressive extreme metal of Kekal is presented here with more sophisticated progressive elements.

This album appears to the different audience but yet longtime fans of Kekal still dig this too. This album was a starting point for Kekal to go to the next level, both musically and also in the term of sales.

4 record labels released the album: Clenchedfist Records released this album on CD format (North American market). Fear Dark released this album on CD format (European market). THT Productions released this album on cassette tape format (Indonesian & South-East Asian markets). HROM/HIRAX Records released this album on cassette tape format (Eastern European market).

Notes about Bonus Tracks

  • Voice From Heaven (appears on Clenchedfist Records version)
  • Like There's No Other Way to Remix (appears on Fear Dark version)
  • Militia Christi (remix, appears on THT Productions version)

2023 Updated Edition

The 2023 Updated Edition was carefully remastered to get a more balanced and exciting sound for listening pleasure, using the most up-to-date digital mastering software with the focus on M/S (mid/side) treatments. This also fixes some panning issues on the original audio.

This 2023 Updated Edition features 2 bonus tracks from "Chaos & Warfare" split CD, and the (upcoming) CD version will also feature 2 more bonus tracks which are the remixes of the songs from the album.


Kekal 2001 Line-Up:
Jeff Arwadi: guitars / vocals
Azhar Levi Sianturi: bass / vocals
Leo Setiawan: guitars

Produced by Jeff Arwadi and KEKAL

2023 Updated Edition Re-mastered by Jeff Arwadi at Ideation Station
2023 Updated Edition cover artwork and layout by Soundmind Graphics

Kekal played their own instruments (plus some borrowed ones) exclusively. Thanks to Hans Kurniawan and Andi Hutagalung for providing those gears needed for recording.

Recorded at Vision Studio, Jakarta - Indonesia throughout February & March 2001, except Track 7, October 2000
Post-production and mixed by Jeff Arwadi except Track 8 mixed by Jeff Arwadi & FXAJ
Additional guitars by Azhar Levi Sianturi & FXAJ
Additional bass by Jeff Arwadi
Noises and Samples by Jeff Arwadi, FXAJ, & Doctor D
Synthesizers by Jeff Arwadi
Additional arrangements by Doctor D & FXAJ
Drums by Sang Hitam

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9: Music & Lyrics by Jeff Arwadi
Track 6: Music & lyrics by Azhar Levi Sianturi
Track 8: Music by Leo Setiawan & Jeff Arwadi, lyrics by Jeff Arwadi. additional song arrangements by FXAJ
Track 10: Music by Jeff Arwadi & Doctor D

Buy The Painful Experience Physical

Note: The original CD version has been sold-out.
Find a cassette version on eBay here.

"The Painful Experience" is now being considered as the starting point in the band's longstanding experimental/avant-garde direction that settles Kekal in the world's musical map. How do you feel about the album, and did you find it difficult to introduce such maneuver to the 'old' Kekal fans?

To me "The Painful Experience" is a return to Kekal's basic energy.. It was raw and angry, and I just love the production, it's got less reverb and more distortion on guitars.. It was a direct response to the directional mistake we took on Embrace The Dead.. What I like the most about this album is that we were on the right track, on the right direction, as it has to be in-tune to what your hearts were trying to say at that time.. This album has more of Leo's influence on the overall musical direction, he thought that it was great to combine some electronic, quasi-industrial elements into some dirty, riff-based metal music, also to make the songs shorter, more in-your-face, and rawer.. I wasn't 100% sure because he originally told me only few weeks before he left the band and moved to Australia for 4 years, so he said his ideas to me along with the news that he was about to leave the band, that was during the pre-production discussions.. Then I started to contemplate on his inputs, and eventually made them happen.. Yes we had people that stopped listening to Kekal after "Embrace The Dead", and with "The Painful Experience" we probably lost more than half of our fans who dig the first 2 Kekal albums.. But this album got much better record label promotion and distribution than the first 2, it was released by 3 labels simultaneously, so we were able to reach out to many new enthusiasts who then formed new and much more solid base for Kekal in the future..

So did Leo actually perform on "The Painful Experience"?

No he didn't.. He was already in Australia by the time the recording started, but he already gave me some of his directions and references to what he preferred the music to be, and he also contributed in giving songwriting inputs, especially to the songs that I was composing at that moment.. So it's just a nice thing to include him as a member up until this album got released, to give him a credit as he was involved in a pre-production discussions.. I was already familiar and comfortable with the raw production, because just the year before I produced an album from a band called Armageddon Holocaust with all that super raw lo-fi sound, so I thought that dry and dirty sound would also work for Kekal, but without being too much getting into the lo-fi raw, you know.. Imagine the song like "Mean Attraction" being recorded with the same production approach as "Embrace The Dead", it would just lose its power and probably its message..


Get the entire Kekal digital album discography (a bundle of 19 Kekal digital releases sold on Bandcamp including 13 full-length albums and 4 EPs) for only $29 USD. That's a 50% off a-la carte price.

A great way to check out the music of Kekal.

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