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"Majesty And Mystery Of The Caucasian Mountains" is one of Senmuth's most inspiring releases. The brilliant multi-instrumentalist Valery Av mixed once again ethnic folk sounds and some new age approaches with a few great metal riffs this time. Instead of doing another record about Egyptian mythology, Indian religion or Japanese history, Senmuth picked the beautiful nature of Western and Southern Russia and created a conceptual album about the beauty of the Caucasian mountains. The album sounds fresh because it's not only a brand new topic and proves that Senmuth doesn't even lack of ideas after almost fifty albums but also because Senmuth added some accordion and harmonica samples that create a more authentic Eastern European flow.
The best songs are surprisingly the heavier ones on the album. "Alania. Caucasus" is one of the best songs Senmuth has ever written so far in his stunning career and mixes great and engaging metal riffs with dynamic accordion parts that invite you to dance and bang your head along to this song. An interesting fact is that the album closer "Ancient Alania" uses pretty much the same accordion samples but in a different way with a more epic and experimental side which creates a completely different but almost as brilliant song. Another highlight on this album is called "Mountain Ravines" that employs some great harmonica parts and unpredictable but very catchy melodies. The album also contains a few calmer and more new age influenced tracks like "Phantoms Of Clouds" or the creepy "Shelter Of Eleven" that are not as addicting but contribute to the development of a mysterious and majestic atmosphere with some darker tones and great folk instruments.
All the typical Senmuth trademarks can also be found in an almost perfectly executed way on this record. We have some chilling acoustic guitar passages, some mysterious sitar parts and even the didgeridoo has found its very own distinctive place inside this record to only name the most present elements.
Even more than before, the sounds of Senmuth create certain images before our ideas and feelings in our heads. After listening to this record I always feel as if I had just watched a detailed documentary about the Caucasus. I would even say that this music is more intense than any movie I have seen of this kind. In my humble opinion, this is the small certain kind of magic where this album even beats very good to brilliant works like "Swadhisthana", "Rajas" or "Sacral Land". There is not a single weak track on this album and it now gets difficult to elaborate an appropriate rating. As I had as much fun discovering this record as I had with "Weird", I wanted to give it the same rating even though those two records are still quite different but I realized that I still preferred this release which is the reason why I added a little generous point to my final verdict. Choose your personal favourite between those two masterpieces but be sure to check these intense records out and open up your mind.
Known for his overtly ethnic approach to music and a varied catalogue from his beginnings, Senmuth has since solidified a kind of distinct style for himself that is quite unique, made only familiar and somewhat tired by the amount of albums the man has produced over the last number of years. While the end of 2008 was certainly seeing a gradual return to Senmuth's roots as a metal artist, 'Величие и Таинство Кавказских Гор' is a very clear example that this Russian solo artist will never drop the world music out of his mix, although gradual changes may be made to the sound over time. 'Величие и Таинство Кавказских Гор' makes itself special in this man's discography for the fact that as opposed to the typical Middle-Eastern and Egyptian cultures he usually explores, this album shows a bit of a fresh twist on the ethnic side of things, going into a bit of European-based sounds. The album suffers from being a bit too listless and disengaging, but this new twist on Senmuth's world music adds an extra freshness and flair to this man's music that many albums appear to omit.
A Russian translation of 'Majesty and Mystery of the Caucasian Mountains', many of the songs here do not rely on exotic realms for inspiration, but rather Senmuth's own motherland, Russia. While the music doesn't sound all that dissimilar from the other culturally-inspired albums, there is a bit of European flair here that makes the instrumental music here a bit different than what one might be used to. Most obvious here is the use of the 'accordion', or at least a computer-synthesized emulation of it. The first and last track's accordion's presence make both songs sound like a trip to some Parisian marketplace in their energetic and folky vibe.
The usual suspects are here though, despite the album having a different theme than many other works by this artist. Sitars are heard here, as well as Valery Av's own signature style of guitar lead work, which at times works well, but feels as though it lacks direction. Without a doubt, the highlight track here is the closer 'Древняя Алания', which stands out both in terms of sound aesthetic and composition, making ample use of some interesting new sounds to Senmuth's catalogue. As has been said before, the album is completely instrumental, and while there is a vast variety of sound here, few of the instruments (programmed or otherwise) are all-too convincing, instead sounding like a very dry soundtrack. In terms of composition and songwriting in general, the typically ambient and mildly unsettling form of Senmuth can be heard here, although the fact that many musical ideas are repeated throughout the album to the point of tedious familiar does not bode well for this work.
For a man who seems to have pigeonholed himself finally into one prescribed style, Senmuth always manages to put something a bit different on record with most of his albums, even if it's just in the small details. Not a great album by any standard, but this is surely evidence that Senmuth has no intention of letting down his development as an artist, no matter how gradual it may seem at times.