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Secrets Of Ancient Gods

Ukraine Country of Origin: Ukraine

Secrets Of Ancient Gods
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: May 31st, 2024
Label: Independent
Genre: Death, Groove
1. Intro
2. Abyss Of Flame
3. Karnak
4. Arcana XVI
5. Nasha Khoda Nevpynna
6. Symbols
7. Path Eternal
8. Wheel Of Fate
9. The Great Unknown
10. Shlyah Do Prozrinnya

Review by Nekrist on June 16, 2024.

A few hours ago I opened my email to the surprise that a band of Ukrainian origin called “Arhat” kindly asked me if I could listen to their latest work titled Secrets Of Ancient Gods. Obviously I was not going to miss such an opportunity and with enthusiasm, I immediately went to look for more information about the band in The Metal Archives, to begin to generate the opinion necessary to review their music. The first thing I saw was that they were simply classified as “groove metal”, a style of which I have honestly never been a regular consumer, but I respect it and I already had my references.

Another important step for me is to see the lyrical themes and where they want to focus their music sonically. I usually do a fairly complete analysis of a band before reviewing it, learning that the word “Arhat” is a term taken from Buddhism, and that it refers to an adept who has reached higher levels of consciousness, with this context I already saw that the band would have a strong mythological and spiritual influence, which as far as I know, many modern groove bands use, even creating their own fantasy stories being bands like The Unguided and Sonic Syndicate from Sweden my first points of reference.

When I started listening to Secrets Of Ancient Gods and opened the lyrics to follow the songs I immediately realized that I was right, an intro using oriental ethnic instruments opens generating a mystical atmosphere, which obviously will undoubtedly remind us of bands like Nile and Melechesh, but the question that was on my mind during the intro was: Is it really worth it? A question that was answered with a quick “yes”, even though this particular type of modern metal no longer captures my interest as much as when I was younger, it managed to capture my attention throughout the album, thanks to a compositional quality and a quite competent sense of musicality, and with a clear and pristine production.

Melodies with an oriental “feel” stand out prominently throughout the album, capturing the listener and taking them through landscapes of sand, epicity, mysticism and technique. The previously mentioned ethnic instruments make a modest but very effective and ornamental entry into the songs, giving a more immersive touch to the record. This is where the “groove metal” label comes into a bit of debate in my opinion, since although the groove is an obvious and fundamental part, there is also a clear influence of a melodic and technical death metal, very “à la” Maat (Germany) and Crescent (Egypt).

The riffs are powerful, bombastic and catchy, a vital thing in this type of metal, since if the riffs do not capture you, you would hardly enjoy the album, the voices fluctuate between gutturals and screams more typical of groove or melodic death metal, the drums are solid and precise, giving a solid and healthy structure to the entire record, the bass adds textures of depth to the work while some ambient touches gradually envelop us. The lyrics revolve around the mystique behind ancient Egyptian culture, themes that, as I previously explained, have already inspired many other bands, it is not surprising given that they are fascinating themes and that really combine very well with metal in general.

In conclusion, this is a modern metal album that I enjoyed a lot, I went out of my comfort zone a little and opened my ears to give a fair review to a group of musicians who have trusted my criteria as a critic to analyze their music of the best possible way, we must also take into account the delicate and difficult situation that the country of origin of this band is going through, however their creativity and passion push them to continue creating music that makes them happy. A good album.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review by Vladimir on June 2, 2024.

Today’s topic might be considered a bit of a departure, or a rather unusual one, because throughout my years I don’t actually remember ever reviewing works from any of the contemporary groove metal albums that are out there. Some time ago, it was suggested by my friend and colleague that I take a look at the Ukrainian band Arhat with their second independent full-length album Secrets Of Ancient Gods, released on May 31st, 2024. Although I tend to avoid bands that belong in the same category as Chimaira, Lamb Of God, Devildriver and so on, I thought I should probably make an exception and see what this album has to offer. 

If you are familiar with the works of well-known groove metal artists such as Lamb Of God and Devildriver, Arhat is essentially along the same line in terms of their overall output, providing that standard contemporary style of music with some occasional moments of death metal influences expressed in the guttural growling vocals next to the groovy shouting. Instrumentally, it is what you would expect from many other artists in this subgenre branch, with frequent breakdowns and downpicking riffs, but you also get some awesome Egyptian music elements here as well, which is obviously the primary setting and lyrical theme of the album, whereas the musical moments were briefly teased with the opening album intro and then officially making their appearance on a couple of tracks such as 'Arcana XVI', 'Symbols', 'Wheel Of Fate' and 'Shlyakh Do Prozrinnya'. The general flow of the album is all about its grooviness and heaviness, and as the album progresses it does become more interesting from one track to another, as the overall mood swings become much more elevated and songs start to feel richer on the second half. Aside from the overall heavy riffage, you also have some moments of atmosphere that really take the cake, with the best given example being the ninth track 'The Great Unknown'

The songwriting on this album is moderately dynamic with its frequent tempo changes and other bits such as various riff ideas, melodies and guitar solos that give it a really rich structure. Even though I am personally not into bands like Lamb Of God or groove metal in general, I did actually find Arhat’s work on this album quite interesting nonetheless, which is all due to the fact that they didn’t just heavily rely on aggression, but they also put a lot of effort to the album’s overall concept, while also trying their best to expand their sound as much as possible. I think that the Egyptian mythological elements really managed to win me over on this entire album, which certainly played a key role in the songwriting and also influenced the band to really give it all they got. Although this style really isn’t my cup of tea and it’s really hard to keep my attention going from start to finish, I won’t lie to you that at some point I was actually found in this state where I was really digging the vibe of the album, especially during those atmospheric parts that just perfectly nailed it. Groove metal certainly is not for everyone, but if you really are looking for something more complex and progressive next to the aggressive and banger stuff, this album definitely succeeds at giving you just that. Aside from that, even the cover art by Viktor Gudkov is really awesome and perfectly fitting for the album’s theme, and I like the fact that it’s very dark and intimidating as opposed to something more contemporary, friendly and representative like it’s a Marvel product (Gods of Egypt anyone?). On the final note, the album has a very solid modern production with a top-notch sound that perfectly balances every bit of instrumental and vocal performance which are on the right spot. 

Overall, I have to say that Secrets Of Ancient Gods is a quite solid album that really shows a nice example of groove metal with more progressive ideas that successfully give a nice edge to the band’s performance. Arhat provides plenty of traditional elements in this subgenre that are luckily outside the realm of generic and repetitive songwriting that plagued this branch which spawned countless Lamb Of God rip-off bands. If you are into more contemporary groove metal, with some progressive elements and occasional death metal influences, you should probably take a look at the Secrets Of Ancient Gods by Arhat

Rating: 7.6 out of 10