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As a composer who finds the time to write at least ten albums a year on average, it's understandable that many of Valery Av's creations cannot necessarily be considered revolutions in his sound. Although there has been a gradual change (and some might say 'improvement') from heavy upbeat metal to more ambient and experimental sounds, developments from album to album are generally minuscule, at times even regressing back to older styles. 'Madinat al-Mayyit' was the album that closed out 2009 for Senmuth, and while certainly an able ethnic album on it's own, it is still only retracing ground covered years ago, and now time and time again.
Upon first listen, I instantly recognized this as having alot in common with sound with an earlier album 'Path Of Satiam.' Being one of my most enjoyed releases from Senmuth thus far, 'Path Of Satiam' had many of the things that makes Senmuth an interesting musical project. What 'Madinat al-Mayyit' seems to do is take the same style, but add a dimension of doom metal into it. While this does work to varying effects on the music here, the songwriting here isn't nearly as good as 'Satiam' and in parts, even feels completely ripped off the parent album... Hell, 'Baalbek' feels like a note for note rendition of a 'Satiam' song! The totally derivative nature of this album aside, it is a welcome addition to Senmuth, and while the musical ideas here aren't catchy by any standard, there are some very interesting moments scattered about.
The execution and production here is nothing special, but functional and pushes the composition forward quite well. The instruments here sound more authentic than they usually do on a Senmuth record, and the music is generally driven by Senmuth's palette of Middle- Eastern instrument sounds.
Arabic for 'dead city,' Senmuth's 'Madinat al-Mayyit' does stand out musically from many of the other pieces Senmuth has to offer, but it fails to crawl out of the shadow of it's predecessor 'Path Of Satiam.'