Friday, July 5, 2024

Full Length Review: Arhat "Secrets of Ancient Gods" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Arhat
Location: Kyiv
Country: Ukraine
Genre: Groove metal
Full length: Secrets of Ancient Gods
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: May 31, 2024
Arhat is not the first band to incorporate metal with oriental and mideastern influences, but their spiritual and mythological allegories push them to new levels of awareness of the distant past. Regardless of how long ago the distant past was, it played a substantial role in shaping the world we know today.
First and foremost a groove metal band, Arhat add weight to their songwriting with elements of power metal, thrash metal, and death metal. Remember classic metal’s impact on bands like Iced Earth, Nevermore and Morgana Lafey? Not just in terms of sound, but also in terms of the mosaic conveyed through the lyrics, songwriting, and feeling? In a similar way, Arhat combines each part of their work into a cohesive whole that transcends their influences and becomes something much more immense.
Arhat began in 2017 and released an EP, a few singles, and another full-length in 2020. Even at its rawest, their material revealed indications of something aberrant from any subgenre it was drawn from. “Secrets of Ancient Gods” advances the band's autochthonous exoticism and their ability to redefine groove metal's capacity for progress.
To accompany ancient civilizations, ancient gods, ancient rituals, and ancient wisdom they celebrate, a great deal of emphasis is placed on ethnic themes. "Secrets Of Ancient Gods" incorporates symphonics and cinematic overtones, as well as anachronistic instruments such as sitar, Turkish ney, and percussion that bring those civilizations to life like a vibrant pagan ritual. It brings all that forgotten sageness into the 21st century, not only piercing the veil but opening it wide, releasing all that forgotten wisdom.
With this album, Arhat has tightened up the aggressive and avant garde, with thrash and death metal elements emerging organically from their groove. As the album opens with sounds from a distant place in space and time, traditional instruments merge with lead guitars, bringing metal into the mix without losing any of its flow with the first song. Despite the risk of introducing more comparisons, the material has a sophisticated vibe somewhat reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Amorphis with Arhat's complexity.
The sharp production enhances the fusion between metal subgenres, as well as the spiritual/ethnic/tribal journeys that are taken in the songs. The latter grows out of the former in a similar manner, and the atmosphere underlying the guitar solos and keyboard sections adds a further layer to the sound Arhat has achieved with this album. As “The Great Unknown” is near the end of the album, it makes sense that this track should be one of the most progressive as it suggests where Arhat is heading next. –Dave Wolff

Alex Sitkoff: Vocals
Anton Skrebov: Guitar
Anton Inov: Bass
Ivan Semenchuk: Drums

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Abyss Of Flame
3. Karnak
4. Arcana XVI
5. Nasha Khoda Nevpynna
6. Symbols (feat Oleksii Syrota of Voracity)
7. Path Eternal
8. Wheel Of Fate
9. The Great Unknown (feat Dmytro Moskalenko of Violateress)
10. Shlyakh Do Prozrinnya

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