Forming in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2017, Ethnic Groove Metal act Arhat released their first demo “Mantra” in January 2018 which led them to perform at Black Sea Metal Festival that summer, releasing single “Stately Ruins” shortly before hand. The seasoned musicians went from strength to strength and the following summer performed at United Metal Festival in Belarus before entering the studio Serhii Sershen who recorded, mixed and mastered their debut album, while recording the drum tracks separately with Valery Likhachov at AVSound.
The majority of the songs on the album reflect stories from mythology and history of oriental peoples with Oleksandr Kharechko lending a hand with the lyrics. Alex Sitkoff (vocals), Anton Skrebov (guitar), Anton Inov (bass) and Dmytro “La De Vill” Sychov (drums) are also accompanied by a pair of session musicians in Kapshuk Kateryna (Ethnic vocals) and Petro Pavlovsky (Percussion) who help them achieve the dynamics they’re looking for. The key is the blending of the styles with the Ethnic aspects added to a fusion of Groove and Death Metal that gives moments that some of Max Cavalera’s work in Sepultura and Soulfly has touched on. The instrumental opening that is “Edge of the Abyss” is tastefully done and well balanced but doesn’t set the tone for the onslaught of “Dead Life” which is a Groove Death Metal track of gargantuan proportions which sees Sitkoff deliver some ear-splitting unclean vocals over a soundscape of groove riffs and pummeling percussive battery. “Freedom” then continues that ark with an old school 90’s vibe that includes a few Thrash moments and a Testament esq percussive gallop from Sychov of which Gene Hoglan would be proud. If Sitkoff’s vocals were heavy on the title track, they find new lows on this one has he grunts and roars his way through the tale in fine fashion.
Some of the percussive work is reminiscent of “Revolution Revolución” by Ill Nino, particularly on “Outcast” but while that album and band relied on Nu-Metal lyrics and downtuned guitars Arhat offer so much more bone crushing weight and there is nothing woe is me about “Dead Life“, the rumble of the drum pedals alone enough to send shockwaves like earthquake tremors powerful enough to bring buildings down. It seems that a good proportion of these songs have been performed live and been in existence in one form or another from 2019 onwards with “Stately Ruins” the only one of those to have seen single release. A ripper in its own right, it has some Deathcore vocal moments that strip the paint from the walls at 20 paces. Kapshuk Kateryna’s ethnic vocals on “Arhat” and “Danger Of Death” are worthy of note as they are simply stunning against the backdrop of abrasive riffs, all that’s missing is some additional lead work to give it some extra polish; something which “Maximalism” has but only in it’s final moments [7/10]