As in any creative endeavor, metal involves the chasing both of trends and of tails. Young, or in embarrassing circumstances, well-established musicians will spend years embedding themselves in whatever sounds hip, while others toil in obscurity for an entire career, refusing to innovate. Neither of these approaches is ideal, but they’re at least comprehensible responses to creative pressures. It takes something else to make music that, even if it has obvious roots, seems to have been produced entirely out of these cycles. Such was the case with #​!​%​16​.​7, the last release from Krakow’s oddball djent group Ketha. It had everything you’d never expect; grind-length grooves, a horn section, and even that Casio patch that’s just a dude grunting. Immediately, it put the name Ketha on the level of inexplicable oddities like ni and Planetarisk Sudoku.

Zero Hours Starlight is a wholly more conventional effort than the band’s last EP, but it still refuses easy categorization. It comes from a place divorced from our trends and timeline, utterly alien, like an exotic bird flying in through an open window. It’s a djent record in that Ketha obviously take a lot of inspiration from Meshuggah, but much like Car Bomb or C.B. Murdoc, that inspiration is channeled through a bustling creativity with a knack for the odd. Something sounds just a bit off with “Monarchs,” and even when the groove kicks in, there’s an odd distance to the music, as if it’s playing out across a radar screen rather than the air between speaker and eardrum.

Perhaps the croaked vocals are to blame for the feeling, or the way everything seems to get sucked into the drumkit at the end of the song, swirling like hair around the drain. Maybe it’s the downtuned guitars, which burp like tipsy digeridoos in “Bliss” and make the opening to “Grudge” sound like Pantera being played by a compost pile. Whatever it is that makes Ketha weird, it’s still here even sans the horn section and wacked-out keys of #​!​%​16​.​7. Yet without the continuity and extra oddity that really pulled that EP together, Zero Hours Starlight feels a bit lacking, especially in the album’s less ambitious passages, like the first minute of “Grudge,” or the first two minutes of closer “HyperGiant” which overplay the album’s chunkiest groove.

Yet Ketha‘s oddness is still enough to keep most of Zero Hours Starlight upright – or rather, at a jaunty angle. The album opens with Khanda, the beginning of a strong a-side, and the b-side sets up similar expectations with “Mokomokai.” The chunky production and odd vocals give off an obtuse air throughout, though when vocalist ‘mrtrip’ tries out a bit of melodic croaking, he toes the line between strangeness and poor execution. The style is an obvious homage to Tomas Haake’s spoken word segments on Nothing and Catch Thirtythree, but it works best as an effect rather than a basis. The short run-time and frenetic pace of #​!​%​16​.​7 meant there was too little time for just about any part of it to get old. This new, more grounded record is easier to find flaws with, but by any measure it’s less bizarre than that EP, and that’s a bit disappointing.

The more grounded music of Zero Hours Starlight can’t really match that of #​!​%​16​.​7, but that EP’s sense of identity still lurks. And while the music doesn’t recapitulate Ketha‘s last full length, 2nd Sight, it nonetheless feels like a step backwards for the band that had so much potential just a few years ago. Now their fireworks and neon have burnt out, and without those gaudy hues, Zero Hours Starlight feels just a bit more normal.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed320 kbps mp3
Label: Selfmadegod Records
Websites: facebook.com/ketha
Releases Worldwide: November 17th, 2017

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  • Eli Valcik

    How do those glasses work?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What makes you think they work?

    • Nag Dammit

      They are connected by satellite to Bono’s computer, which he uses to project images of him saving the world onto the lenses. The wearer then sends all their money to Bono’s off shore account in the Bahamas, which he uses to buy shopping malls that sell more of his stupid glasses. Tax exempt of course. Fucking Bono.

      • Eli Valcik

        hmm, you learn something new everyday. Speaking of which my Lady told me that Ed Gein had a belt made out of human nipples.

        • Nag Dammit

          Of all the things you could think of doing with some freshly mutilated human tits, he goes and makes a belt? What’s wrong with him? Clearly their best use would be as knobs on a guitar amp. Amateur.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Surely Austin Powers would use nipples as knobs on a guitar amp, baby!

        • Kronos

          Yeah but I think they broke up back in like 2009.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Seems to me nipples would make it difficult to thread the belt through the pants loops, so this is clearly a case of fashion over function.

    • Ketha

      They don’t. You barely can see through :)

  • Wes Allen

    I’m starting to suspect that the cover of #​!​%​16​.​7 is just a close-up of those rather impractical glasses.
    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e8add36318b50931c454182cd238103ed843fda58a7940d138ed8a80483b52c7.png

    • Kronos

      I had never made that connection.

      • You should go make a connection with Trespasser, yo. Members of Départe, name-your-price ep on Bandcamp, running time’s something silly like 20 minutes… Really, I feel like I owe it to you to introduce you to them after the intro to Départe last year, they’re that good.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Didn’t Steely D tell you you had already exceeded your “yo” quota for 2017?

        • Kronos

          I’ll check it out

        • Sean Sky

          The hardcore band from the UK? There’s a whole bunch of bands named Trespasser on Bandcamp.

          • Kronos

            You’re looking for Tasmanians.

          • Sean Sky

            That’s what I thought but I found a UK band with a pay what you want EP so I got confused

          • Context clues, yo. The one I’m referring to is from Tasmania, if you find something referring to members of Départe, you found the right one. If you did not, you did not.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Incidentally, my copy of Miasma by ROSK arrived in the mail today. Someone in the band or at the label wrote “THANK YOU” across the back of the plastic wrap. I always like those personal gestures. Probably isn’t very “metal” though.

          • Fuck all that, I save every little thing like that that I acquire and I squeal like a piglet when I see something’s handwritten. The humanizing element of going through Bandcamp breeds all kinds of possibilities like that, I say revel in every one of them. If I particularly enjoy an album beyond just writing a mini review I tend to email the artists to say thanks for the tunes, and that little gesture has gotten me many an interaction and the occasional bonus merch. Bands are people, too, treat them like such and you’ll be rewarded as with anyone.

          • Name’s Dalton

            I get a kick out of it too, and I love supporting the indies. Always have.

    • [not a Dr]

      I want sunglasses like those. Anyone knows where they can be found (and bought)?

  • André Snyde Lopes

    #​!​%​16.7 is still brilliant and everyone should go listen to it.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Judging from the strap of his baseball cap, that guy has a huge head.

    • Ketha

      That’s true! :D

  • sir_c

    Interesting Female Body Movements™ does not make dull djent shine.
    As the saying in Poland goes: one cannot polish a turd.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What’s that saying about Polish turds?

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        That they’re already shiny?

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          That would be a polished turd instead of a Polish turd, wouldn’t it?

      • sir_c

        Polish too hard and you end up with a great stinky mess

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Great Stinky Mess would be a cool album title.

          • Nukenado

            Search up Porky Vagina (Yes, that’s the band name.)
            They have a song called “Fekal Disco Party”.

            And yes, they are Polish.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I guess they’re “Not Safe For Work”

          • Nukenado

            As long as your superiors can’t speak Polish, they’re fine.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Why would they be my superiors if they can’t speak Polish? ;)

          • Nukenado

            The joke evades me. Please enlighten me…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            It’s not much of a joke… I don’t speak Polish so if they spoke Polish they would be superior to me since they’re able to do something I can’t. Therefore, why would they be my superiors if they can’t speak Polish?

          • Nukenado

            Oh…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            sorry to disappoint you…

          • sir_c

            When the shit hits the fan… you have a fecal disco party

          • Nukenado

            When shit hits the disco ball.
            Do check the band out though. It’s like Anaal Nathrakh and Igorrr had a kid raised by Diablo Swing Orchestra while being raised on nothing but pornogrind albums and hentai.

          • sir_c

            Ha ha that is one of the weirder sales pitches I have heard :-)
            But I’ll check them out for sure

          • sir_c

            Calling back after watching one clip. Quite fun stuff indeed, the weird mix of styles is surprisingly catchy.

            Maybe you also like their dutch colleagues of Kaasschaaf with their new album Obesitatas. More conventional stuff, but still.

          • Nukenado

            Mmm, nice accordion! Thanks Sir C!

  • welyyt

    So Kronos, are you gonna be the one reviewing the new Faceless?

    • Kronos

      Wow they’re still on Sumerian? I guess I’ll maybe listen if it’s good but I don’t have high hopes. We don’t get promo from Sumerian.

      • welyyt

        The singles were alright, I guess. At least they got me to spin Akeldama for the nth time, and tolerate the second half of Autotheism (PD still rules, of course). At this point, the fact that something’s even coming out is a minor miracle.

        Where do you stand with Keene & friends?

        • Kronos

          Same as you it seems. They put out two super influential records, one very divisive album, and have been mostly hot air since that one. I don’t expect much.

          • welyyt

            Well at least the new Kardashev is amazing.

  • jolly cooperation

    >Planetarisk Sudoku
    Good to see Kronos is a man of culture as well.

  • Nag Dammit

    Since when did Walter Sobchak and Bono start playing metal? Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?

  • h_f_m
    • Kronos

      Can we get a featured comment here?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Can we get a featured comment here?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Awesome!

    • [not a Dr]

      Wouldn’t that be the constellation of the Monoceros?

  • Sean Sky

    #​!​%​16​.​7 was so damn good. I still put it on every once in awhile.

  • Dymanic

    How disappointing, I kinda suspected this was the case from the album preview promo. #!16.whatever was phenomenal, I was expecting big things from these guys.

  • Ketha

    Thanks for the review guys! m/

  • Tofu muncher

    Good writing, but Djent? Instant pass.