Spi-Ritual - Pulse
Sensory Records
Ethnic flavored Gothic Metal
8 songs (45'26")
Release year: 2006
Spi-Ritual, Sensory Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

I did not know that Sensory, one of the leading progressive music labels, had a Sensory Dark imprint, something similar to Century Black years ago. Regardless whether Sensory Dark has been in existence long or Spi-Ritual is one of its first releases, the news is good. Progressive quality music Sensory is known for combined with a dark approach – umm, this sounds delicious.

Spi-Ritual is certainly quite a bit more aggressive than Sensory generally puts out, plus it upholds the progressive tag given how much thinking went into the concept and presentation. The band is the creation of Stefan Hertrich, vocalist and songwriter of the German gothic band Darkseed. I do own Spellcraft and Diving into Darkness, but frankly it has been a long time since I gave those two a listen.

Given that the label is new to more forceful music territory, I am not paying much attention when Pulse is christened as a crossover between death metal and world music. Death metal this is not, but Stefan does his most brutal gothic vocals impersonation and does not spare any vigor in the down-tuned guitar riffs. Bringing in several female vocalists, some of them singing in native tongues, employing a special consultant in world music and using authentic instruments was going to guarantee the uniqueness for Pulse, so I give Stefan a lot of credit not shortchanging the heavy part of his music. He lunges into riffs with conviction (The Battle is Yours, title track). Spi-Ritual rhythms, for most of the songs, are quite mechanical, almost industrialized, but I do not blame it on the drummer Maurizio Guolo, who was probably asked to play this way.

Stefan’s vocals are the amalgam of belligerent fire-breathing, clean singing a la Depeche Mode and Type O Negative, spoken words and some processed voices. Opposite to that and the pounding drums/rhythm guitar we have delicately and smartly woven in quiet moments, full of introspective female singing, genuine ethnic percussion, flutes and some other instruments I can’t possibly name. Such struggle between quiet intestinal fortitude and chaos is certainly inspired by our planet’s internal beauty constantly raped by its own children. I just wish the chaos would be a bit more chaotic on Pulse. The contrast is there, nevertheless, the ethnic moments being organic and flowing effortlessly in the face of the industrialized rhythms (Symphony of Life).

As I mentioned before Stefan does not seek the easy way out, simply giving us a collection of world music. Only towards the end of the album, the last three tracks are airy and unwinding as if releasing the pressure. You Believe has the expectations of the crusher which never comes, Save and Heal is practically meditative and Nowhereness shows the forgiving Mother Earth still providing its ample breast for the mankind to rest its collective head on.

Calling ethnic moments of Pulse mid-Eastern influenced is probably unfair and shortminded. Because I am embarrassed not to understand the tongue Yana Veva is singing in on Nahash, Khundas and Nowhereness, I am not going to call it Arabic or Jewish, but the phonetics and enunciation does sound like Orphaned Land. There is definitely a large Native American element on Pulse, This Battle is Yours and especially Nahash full of characteristic flute interludes. If you want to listen to some excellent Native North American music get yourself a CD called Yeha-Noha, and you will see that Spi-Ritual does justice to this art. At the same time, there are sounds of rainforest (Symphony of Life) and Indian/Nepalese bells on the title track. Even the guitar solos, for which Stefan used guest musicians, are carefully thought through so that they take on the same ethnic flavor as the rest of the song.

Pulse is a quite interesting take on gothic music, because it can differentiate itself from the pack with this world cultural approach. Having watched through the multimedia section, having read the essays by Stefan himself and his world music consultant Dr. Christian Ratsch and having watched the video for Pulse, I can certainly admire the amount of thought Mr. Hertrich put into the album. Many with the appreciation of Therion or those who think Moonspell ought to display more flavor on Memorial will surely like Pulse.

Killing Songs :
This Battle Is Yours, Nahash, Pulse, Khundus
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Ken quoted 85 / 100
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