Russian rocker Senmuth is known for his very overt fetish for all things Near Eastern. All you have to do is look at his website, and you'll see it's filled to the brim with pictures of him in Egypt, as well as the vast quantities of music and artwork that interest has inspired. But then, amongst all of that, there is his recent release, Hagwalah, which sticks out from the rest of his collective works like an elephant in the room.
And maybe that's one of the reasons this album is so effective--standing in contrast to his other works, which are overtly adorned with ancient Egyptian imagery, the cover for Hagwalah is a stark, candid photo of a titular drifter going out of control, shooting a rifle into the air, and the accident that unavoidably results from his actions. The sand thrown upward, the doors flying open--all of this is unexpected, and hence even more incredibly powerful, imagery.
The music is also uncharacteristically ferocious for Senmuth, hitting harder and heavier than the rest of his vast discography. Imagine the weight and power of Geheimatite coupled with the ambient flavours of Path to Satiam and you'll have a vague idea. And that's no surprise, because with track titles like "Camryterrorism", "Carsuicide on Streets" and "Bloodsand of Saudi Arabia", it's no secret how strongly he feels about the subject matter. Granted, this isn't much of a branch out for him stylistically--it's still the same industrial-based semi-ambient world rock he's known and loved for. But it's somehow more potent and purposeful than the sometimes homogenic bulk of his discography up to this point. Plus, it shows he can be political without even saying a word. You have to appreciate that kind of talent.
In terms of highlights, the opening track "Hagwalah Accident" has some great pseudo-djent spastic riffing backed with his usual forceful percussion and Eastern-reminiscent ambient vocals, "Nefo Fatal Accidents" uses some candid live recordings backing the music to tremendous effect, and the long centrepiece track "Ejects Driver and Passengers" has one of my favourite Senmuth riffs during its second half. "Masha'Allah…" is also a welcome respite of softness, acting as an outro to all of the intensity that came before it.
Of course, if you weren't sold on Senmuth before, this album isn't going to change your mind--it is just more of the same, albeit somewhat heavier. Fans of his sound already however will find Hagwalah to be a refreshingly new take on a tried and true formula. Plus, you can download the album for free from his website, along with all of his other 120+ releases.
6.5 / 10
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