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As good as Senmuth’s multiple ambient/ethno instrumental albums can be, his metal works are more interesting due to the fusion of more kinds of music, and their sheer uniqueness in the larger world of metal. Released only a couple of months after the masterpiece that is the Egyptian-themed Sebek, Sekenenra is a similar kind of experimental doom/death metal with a considerable amount of industrial elements and a thematic fascination with Ancient Egypt, as evidenced by the cover art, track names and overall musical atmosphere.
This album dispenses with the pleasantries of its predecessor: there’s no quarter-hour instrumental stuff at the beginning: the experimental metal begins almost right away. The guitars are the most eclectic element at work here. Senmuth crafts a series of riffs which are short and repetitive, as well as some which are on the experimental side of things, being nigh-incomprehensible for a listener with an exclusively metal mindset. Additionally, the guitar playing is very melodic, being backed by the limited keyboards in this respect.
The primary counterpart to that guitar sound is the drumming. Senmuth’s work here is extremely varied. He focuses on either creating very fast-paced patterns, such as on the crushing opener, Proritsanie Khemkhepry, or more variable-speed ones, which seem set out to create a partly folk sound with the rest of the instruments as the album progresses. At some points the drumming serves as the slower backdrop for the epic sound which is primarily achieved with the aforementioned guitar-keyboard combo and some of Senmuth’s vocals, as is the case on a primary album highlight, Pod Znamyonami Tetisheri.
Perhaps this album’s greatest quality is its ability to successfully fuse the very metal tracks with the more ambient-oriented ones. The general pattern is one of alternation from one to the other, not only between consecutive tracks but within each track as well. You can have several minutes of ambient within a track, and then it instantly jumps up to speed with fast-paced and moderately loud drumming, a curious species of doom/death metal riff and Senmuth’s signature vocals. Even his vocals are experimental: there is no clean singing, nor are there any harsh growls as is the case with traditional albums of the genre. Senmuth simply does his usual clean-ish experimental chanting, which on occasion sounds a bit depressing due to the particular tones he adopts. I’d say that the most successful example of a correct fusion between the two different genres present here, and by correct I mean damn well perfect, is the extremely epic quarter-hour Hor Ka-Em-Uaset, the culminating moment of the album. Here the genres do not alternate: they work together all the time, and the result is very impressive indeed.
Senmuth’s Sekenenra is another metal masterpiece, as simple as that. This new type of metal invented by Senmuth, crafted out of all these disparate elements, is an outstanding success. It’s very gratifying to see that some musicians still have the refreshing ideas and talent with which to enrich the world of music these days.