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Senmuth - Sekenenra - 60%

ConorFynes, December 21st, 2010

I must say, while I might not have believed it while listening to the saturated heaviness of Senmuth's earliest work, I did miss the heavier Senmuth. After this Russian project went down a more mellow and ambient path, new doors were certainly opened in terms of the things that Senmuth could do with his music, but the energy seemed to escape. Years later, Senmuth has really polished many aspects of his execution and production, lending a much more effective metal sound than would be possible earlier on. While 'Секененра' lacks an epic sense of songwriting, it does make up for it with a grand, fully realized sound. Flaws aside, this is some of the heaviest music Senmuth has ever dished out.

Back are the vocals of Senmuth himself; a voice we rarely hear much in the music since he phased it out with the rest of the industrial metal craze that dominated his early material under the name. Senmuth can be described here as merging his Egyptian-themed ambient work and dark metal sensibility very well to make an epic symphonic display. While Senmuth generally uses artificial instruments (instead opting for computer emulation sounds) the orchestral tones are very well used, and at times even have the same effect a real orchestra might have. There's still however, a great deal of the music where the listener can certainly tell that not everything they are listening to has been performed by a human being.

The guitar work here generally consists of large power chords; nothing Senmuth plays here demonstrates a superb sense of musicianship. In terms of the production and execution of 'Секененра,' the real highlight lies in the sheer amount of detail to sound Senmuth has put into it. While anyone might assume that a man releasing so many albums in such little time would not give his music such consideration, but Senmuth is sure to include small nuances that don't reveal themselves until after a few listens. For example, the haunting percussive interlude 'Hqa xAswt' has some subtle female vocal work stirring around in the background, giving the mental picture of a swirling Middle-Eastern bazaar.

The only real issue with the album is the lack of quality guitar riffs, which does unfortunately have quite an impact on the album's strength. That aside however, this is quite a well done album, Senmuth has shown here that he has honed his craft to the point where most of the production issues are gone, and petty problems have been solved over time. With a little more technical complexity thrown into the guitar work, Senmuth may very well create an amazing metal album with his talents.

I want more albums like this - 94%

MaDTransilvanian, June 10th, 2010

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.