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Senmuth has received much praise from music reviewers around the world for his "Cebek" album. Most ignore the fact that less than half a year later he has released what could be called the little brother of that album. "Секененра" is telling the story of Seqenenre who was in a military conflict with the Hyksos back in Ancient Egypt. The album really gives the kind of atmosphere that such a topic is supposed to incorporate. The result is clearly the most brutal release by the artist and clashes even with the big brother I mentioned earlier. The second thing to note about this album is the heavy use of brass instrument samples which is quite unusual for Senmuth.
The album is quite calm for the first minutes, but quickly becomes tense when psychedelic violin samples and a very aggressive style of singing come together to create a very brutal mix in "Прорицание Хемхепры". There is also some tribal drumming that completes a quite uneasy and disturbing atmosphere. Add to all of this the very good use of the brass instruments that results in the most brutal song ever by the artist.
After a short psychedelic break of three minutes in form of "Hqa xAswt" that serves to relax the listener a little bit after the wall of brutality of the last segment, we are thrown again in the middle of another quite heavy song entitled "Под знамёнами Тэтишери". This track is dominated by some thrash guitar riffs and some small folk passages. While still being quite brutal, this song starts to have another atmosphere that will be more and more present as the album goes by. I would describe this atmosphere as epic or an atmosphere that we can associate with an army general going through many battles as if he was some kind of god.
From then on, the album varies between epicness and brutalality in perfect harmony and represents clearly something completely new for the artist. I admit I have never heard something similar anywhere else, or at least not as extreme as the mix presented on this release.
The epitome of the album are the last two songs of the album that possess everything Senmuth has used on this album already plus some even more impressive tools he hasn't used yet. Many great bass lines are played and the mix between brutality and epicness reaches such an elevated level that I would need a new word to describe it. Some pizzicato violin passages make their way into the sixteen minute long "Хор Ка-ем-Уасет" just for naming one new tool he uses specifically for these last two tracks.
The production of this album is another highlight because we are able to hear very clearly everything, from the bass lines to the brass instruments. There is maybe only the third track that suffers from a slightly below average production because it's more difficult to hear all the details. Even then, the song still delivers the atmosphere I had described and fits to the rest of the album.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this album for all metalheads out there. Even if you didn't like "Cebek" that much but embraced the general idea behind it, you get a much more concise and focused album with this output. Please give this release a try, I'm sure it will surprise you.
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.