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One really feels that one of Senmuth's biggest passions is Egypt culture and history. "Sacral Land" is one of his strongest releases devoted to this topic. The album has a meditative folk feeling that makes this old and forgotten culture live again in our ears and our minds. Senmuth invites us for a stunning travel in time event once again and delivers a cinematic work for our hearing and thinking.
Haunting melodies are mixed with metal influenced passages that create generally help to create a doom atmosphere but that can include fast and eruptive moments. This album also works a lot with the efficiency of silence on the other side as one can especially hear in the epic opener "The Great Daughter Of The Sun" and the closing "Numero10gy" that include fade in as well as fade out passages that create a haunting and mysterious tension.
My favourite tracks are though those when Senmuth decides to include many folk elements and create an almost ritual atmosphere. The epic "Architect Of The Black Earth" employs simplistic but efficient folk elements in over eight minutes to perfection. "Faros Tis Alexandrias" sounds even more creepy and mysterious and has maybe the most haunting atmosphere of ten truly entertaining songs filled with passion, feeling and details.
Senmuth not only convinces the progressive, folk and ambient fans but has also a few thoughts for his metal fan base. Shorter and heavier tracks such as "Akhet-Aten" with some jazz elements or the mysterious and authentic "Nitocris" could also be performed by Amorphis or even Moonspell. Those short and more metal orientated tracks remind me of the atmospheric metal soundtrack for the video game "Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within" with the only difference that this album here has an Egyptian vibe instead of a Persian one but both cultures are still quite close to each other.
Sacral Land happens to be one of the most coherent records of Senmuth at first view but the album is filled with many different styles. All different fan groups of this unique Russian artist should find something they really like on this album apart of those who prefer the early gothic works with vocals and guest musicians. Senmuth adds once again a high amount of passion and creativity in a release about his fetish topic and the final result sounds well sought and not as spontaneous as many other of his works without being boring or too calculated. He simply found the right mixture for this release a part of a few rather mellow songs in the middle of the record and I would recommend this record as a great introduction to any new potential fan of him. This album is amongst his best records but there is still better stuff from him which I may review soon.
Here is another one of the more laid back Senmuth albums. As the man behind all of this music has gradually matured his sound, there has been a gradual trend towards more mellow styles, rather than the crazy metal sound of his earliest work under the title. While this does seem to be the right direction for Senmuth to be going in, it's clear that it will take some time before this new approach is solidified and mastered. 'Sacral Land' shows Senmuth working with this mellow, ethnic and ambient outlet of his music, to some mixed degree of success.
As with many of the project's releases, 'Sacral Land' does tend to grow on the listener after a few listens, although the music is typically ambient and could fall into the category of 'background music' for the majority of the set here. While there are scarce bits of heaviness here and there to liven things up, things are typically get laid back, although the overall tone of the music could very well suit a gothic horror film. There are some great moments where the music begins to soar in it's clever use of melodic instruments and 'epic' orchestration, but for the most part, the musical potential of Senmuth does not feel properly tapped into here. There is very little in the way of 'hooks' or memorable melodies, which could have done wonders for the otherwise uneventful soundscape that curses a good portion of the music here.
The mood here is particularly dark; some of the darkest Senmuth has ever done thus far in his career. Songs such as 'Per-Isis' for example, could easily be a soundtrack to a lost Egyptian tomb. The music is kept slow and doomy in nature. While 'Sacral Land' is indeed a laid back album, there are parts here that do recall the metal sound of his past work. There may be little here that really grabs the listener's attention, but the songs are pleasant throughout, and give off a convincing atmosphere.