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RXG-242-11 is one of the heavier albums of our Russian mastermind Senmuth. It has a dystopian sound and is mostly straight forward without forgetting to include weird industrial samples. The album may be less majestic and coherent than some of his other works but the heaviness should please to a larger public here and be of a certain interest.
Most of the songs have an industrial space flow that reminds of bands such as Ministry, Samael or Voivod. The guitars are sharp, the synthesizers are both upbeat and atmospheric and the weird vocals are harsh, robotic and quite addicting for this kind of music.
"Like Nobody Else" is maybe the heaviest song written in the early years by this one man project while the following "Enuma Anu Enlil" has some modern Visual Kei sounds to me and shows the high degree of diversity that can even be found on this record. On the other side, Senmuth still included calmer and introspective moments on his album such as the opener "Megiste Syntaxis I: Path Of Sirius" that is a great atmospheric track but gives you a somewhat wrong impression of what follows shortly afterwards. The circle is though closed when Senmuth decides to finish the record with the relaxing second part "Megiste Syntaxis II: The Heart Of The Milky Way".
In the end, we have one of the most diversified and entertaining records in the whole long discography of Senmuth. It's not his most inspired, complex and intellectual work, though. Personally, it's still great to know that this guy just wants to rock out sometimes and breaks all conceptual boundaries as on this surprising record that should be hailed and praised by the metal and gothic community as well. Anybody that finds the conceptual instrumental records of Senmuth too intellectual, boring and overwhelming might be positively surprised by this release which underlines my opinion that anybody can find an album that he adores in the large discography of this Tchaikovsky of the twenty-first century that doesn't need The Five to excell with his visionary solo works.
The seventh album released under the Senmuth name, the strangely titled 'RXG-242-11' shows yet another slow but steady development in the overall sound of this industrial metal act. While the brand of typically upbeat, distorted and 'danceable' metal Senmuth usually employs still faces the same issues it has suffered from it's inception, there is solace to be found in the music's softer segments. While this Russian one-man project has never gone long without throwing unconventional ethnic styles into the mix, never before in his career has the integration of metal and non-metal aspects been so effective. There is still alot of mediocrity that seems to have gone along with the sheer quantity of music the man has made over the years, but interspersed between the partially-memorable heavy tracks are a few stunning gems that really speak of Senmuth's talent and potential as an artist.
Perhaps as a foreshadowing to Senmuth's next project ('Kami-No-Miti') which would focus greatly around the Oriental school of music, 'RXG' has a heavier emphasis on Chinese/Japanese music than usual, although some Indian and classical European stylings appear throughout the album. It is actually the influence of European classical music that seems to be the biggest development here in terms of actual sounds. Before this, Senmuth generally stuck to extracting music from cultures outside that of Europe. While it may simply be a matter of personal taste, I find the European stylings (generally based in the piano presence, while the string orchestration maintains an eastern flair) to feel very natural for the direction Senmuth seems to be pushing towards. While some of his softer orchestrations have sounded a bit too artificial and novel in the past, he is clearly improving his craft of making the music (and album as a whole) feel more fluid and organic.
Among the highlights of 'RXG' is the epic oriental track 'Coast Of The Carried Away Lives,' which proves the point of Senmuth's improved metal/non-metal integration, and the stunning 'Megiste Syntaxis' duology, which is the closer to my version of the album. Probably not coincidentally, all of the most memorable and profound tracks are instrumental. While I have made it clear in past reviews that I am not a fan of Senmuth's distortion-box vocal style, the strength of the instrumentals makes the wound that much deeper. Should Senmuth release a completely instrumental album and recreate the magic of some of the more powerful work here in 'RXG,' I am sure this talented artist could have his first potential masterpiece of his career on his hands. Until then, 'RXG-242-11' is no deriviation from the Senmuth formula, but certainly among the stronger releases under his belt at the point of this album's creation.
Alright, so Senmuth is getting quite a lot of attention lately. He's quite clearly a crazed Russian madman who feeds upon the souls of his previous album, thus requiring him to churn out more ridiculous amounts of music to sustain himself lest he wither away into radioactive dust. Logically, what you feed on should have some substance to it, some meat. Trust me on this one when I say that Senmuth isn't going to starve any time soon -- he's got his recipe down to a fine art already.
Anywho, according to his website this is apparently on his seventh release out of a good 49 full length albums. I must admit, I didn't have much faith in him at first. Who could possibly make this much material in such a short timespan and have it be anything better than average? Of course, were you to ask this of Senmuth he'd probably blow you to pieces with a laser beam from his walking suit of musical instruments. To put it bluntly, this is a mixture of spacey keyboard melodies, a million different synths, a fairly realistic sounding and creatively programmed drum machine, middle eastern ambience, some of the weirdest vocal work I've ever heard and simplistic yet somehow grippingly memorable industrial riffs blending into emotional progressive ones. Sound strange? It is, but it all fits together remarkably well.
For example, the opener ("Velikiy Zamysel Sozdatelya", or "Great Plan Of The Founder") is a rapidly building yet innovative track. It seems almost theatrical, provides you with a slew of progressing images involving space militants boarding ships to head off to war out in the icy universe. Senmuth's vocals cut in fairly quickly and are distorted beyond belief, making him sound like he's barking orders into a crackling walkie-talkie. Meanwhile you've got a keyboard, a violin synth playing sinister and disturbing tunes with a guitar buried beneath layers of fuzz crunching away in the background. After the near 5 and a half minute wall of sound finishes (without overstaying its welcome, no less) you're left still remembering all the tunes you heard -- and each song somehow manages to have a good bunch of 'em.
I'd also like to bring attention to the third track, "Rozhdenie Vremeni". This is another gem off this wackjob of space-man metal. Its first riff is only slightly reworked and sped up from that of the opener's first one, but with the aid of a new backing keyboard melody it compells you to headbang and... Destroy alien invaders? There are numerous sections of the song that just blend seamlessly together with this very same atmosphere -- you'd be hard-pressed to notice they even arrived without actually trying. One minute you're being dealt a rapid industrial riff, then the next there are are synths of pianos floating by while Senmuth does more distorted barking inbetween pounding snare-based drumwork. There's even a solo! Of course, as is Senmuth's way of constructing music, this solo is just as strange as the rest of the music. It's noodley, bendy, and floats in systematically chaotic directions like a jellyfish keeping equilibrium in a tsunami.
The flaws of the album crop up here and there, but most of them have counterbalances. The production is fairly fuzzy and gritty. While I enjoy it myself, due to the production the instruments can become somewhat buried while the guitar plays. Senmuth's vocals may turn off some listeners as well; he has a very nasal singing voice when not using a harsher tone. He also sings in Russian, which will turn away those who don't speak the language who rely on lyrical substance. However, he is still quite dynamic and has a good vocal range in the higher octaves while staying out of the realm of gutturals. There is also the issue of how well the album itself flows. One or two songs seem to end abruptly and cut into the next. This is quite prevalent after the second track which has no logical conclusion and just cuts off feeling unfinished. This IS his 7th full-length, so one must imagine that he should have had some practice and not have made such a mistake despite the timeframe in which his music is composed.
In the end though, this is still a remarkably well made album that takes elements from every possible corner of the musical spectrum and still differentiates from Senmuth's equally vast and varied catalogue. It may just be sucking up at this point, but I really can't help it anymore. This is music that caters to fans of the experimental and avant-garde, the progressive and industrial. Hell, a good deal of Senmuth's melodies are clearly classically influenced. I personally love the soaring orchestral synths and samples as well; they contribute to the heavily atmospheric and theatrical mood of the album. Nearly all the solos used have great sticking power. Not one instrument is wasted and each one has been thoughtfully placed to avoid sounding mechanical and formulaic. Because of all these factors, this really should be remembered for years to come. This is powerful. This is monumental. This is, dare I say it, different. Let's say it together now... This. Is. Epic.
Standout tracks: Velikiy Zamysel Sozdatelya, Rozhdenie Vremeni, Mezdu Voshodom I Zakatom, Gorizony Sobytiy, Megiste Syntaxis I: Path Of Sirius, Megiste Syntaxis II: Il Cuore Della Via Lattea...