Der Ghul – Pulse of Awakening (2019)

While nobody believed in Dark Electro anymore, some braves still exist with a spark of hope. Among them, a Teuton named Vladimir Bauer aka DER GHUL sells himself as a mixture of Industrial Metal and Darksynth. Although the first is indeed one of the main components of the project, the second remains questionable on its use. It won’t take more than a few seconds to realize that we are facing a umpteenth Dark Electro attempt but, unlike the plethora of clones without interest that abound in the scene, we have with Pulse of Awakening a little something that arouses curiosity.

Yet, the project could be confused with a Cyber Metal production between the Industrial riffs and a keyboard typical of the Russian scene. We wonder at this stage what we have fallen into: Metal, Indus, Electro… the styles are alternating and mixing themselves to create a working fusion. For instance, Trauma II begins on a songwriting similar to Cyber Metal then smoothly switch towards a Dark Electro approach. DER GHUL thus easily seduces with a softer and more organic modulation of the keyboard that is usually used in the Electro-Indus scene.

The riffs are simple but sufficiently catchy to keep a constant interest with a few peaks of attention where some variations challenge. The head nods in rhythm almost naturally and, strangely, it will be the only time when the keyboard steps aside in favor of the strings for the most part: we will especially take on Trauma I for this aspect. Moreover, if we remove the latter and we focus exclusively on the riffs, the whole could quite suit as a video game soundtrack, which becomes obvious when the guitar is alone behind the speakers, mainly on Trauma III that makes you want to bring out all the oldies of Quake, Unreal and Painkiller.

Back after some deathmatches, we are entitled to an alternative version of the first track with vocals. Totally unnecessary, this addition has no capital gain in the songwriting, particularly if it’s to have only a barely perceptible whisper and fully modeled on the riffs. Unless trying a different approach, Vladimir Bauer would benefit from remaining instrumental in his alias.

Perhaps it was not the targeted goal by the artist but that’s a subjective perception that comes out. In a nutshell, we must lightly take this EP, without looking for too much complexity. And even if DER GHUL remains plain in his approach, well it works! Pulse of Awakening is effective in its execution, with a much more organic approach to the style, probably due to the Darksynth inspiration cited above. Frankly, with a few extra songs, it would not be surprising to see DER GHUL alongside SONIC MAYHEM or FRANK KLEPACKI on an old-fashioned, nervous FPS soundtrack.

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