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Arhat – Dead Life

Dead Life
by Max Elias at 27 January 2021, 9:39 PM

The first full-length from Ukranian groove metal/death metal act ARHAT is heavy on hypnotic, pulverizing riffs. The eerie repetitive droning on “Edge of the Abyss” sets up the mood of the album. The shift from that into the title track, “Dead Life” is like a hammer dropping; suddenly erupting into a stout burst of caveman drumming and mosh-worthy riffs. “Dead Life” is all about pounding and quick rhythmic shifts, which drummer Dmytro Sychov executes with aplomb. Without his fluid blast beats dominating the choruses, the song would be limp and lifeless.

While the only hint of melody on “Dead Life” is a riff at around the four minute mark, “Freedom” begins very differently. The first riff that announces the song is a MELODIC DEATH METAL type barrage of tremolo picking, although the interesting aspects of the song are once again rhythmic as opposed to melodic. Even the guitar solo seems mostly about ambience; consisting almost solely of trills that sound like angry insects. A similar approach is found on “Outcast”, which is not too exciting but at least is easy to headbang to.

ARHAT seem to be very influenced by modern metal subgenres, and in particular their penchant for breakdowns. Many of the songs on Dead Life sound like they are just very long breakdowns, with the gently chugging guitars and spaced-out percussion. “Stately Ruins” for example feels like a 4 minute long build to something. Some of the band’s better work is found on “Arhat”, which has some more compelling riffs and fuses the band’s airtight rhythm section with a slightly thrashier vibe. At this point it also has to be said, however, that something is off about their guitar tone; to me it sounds too mechanical and stiff. It has a robotic tinge to it; by which I mean it sounds the way I imagine a machine learning to speak would sound. This is very obvious on “Maximalism”, which is full of the chugging, grinding breakdowns this band is so fond of.

The album closes with the Indian-inspired “Mantra”, which starts with chanting and ambient sitar, the latter of which goes away shortly. But the chanting remains a part of the song once the guitars enter. ARHAT sets an interesting stage and the first riff of the song is more interesting than most of their riffs, but “Mantra” becomes another bland breakdown-fest quickly enough. At least the solo is vibrant enough (but what is that weird sound effect that sounds like a cross between a windshield wiper and a bird chirping?).

Put bluntly, I did not like this album at all. ARHAT has a very strong rhythm section, but they abuse it constantly, with all the stopgap chugging never leading into a good satisfying riff. It isn’t even the lack of melody that makes the riffs, in my opinion, lacking—it’s the fact that these parts are just a few low notes played in different groupings; similarly to a less talented MESHUGGAH—and I don’t like them either. groove metal in general is not a genre I like, and I accept that I have bias because of it, but this is an especially generic example of the style.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 4
Musicianship: 6
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

  1. Edge of the Abyss (Intro)
  2. Dead Life
  3. Freedom
  4. Outcast
  5. Stately Ruins
  6. Arhat
  7. Maximalism
  8. Danger of Death
  9. Mantra
Anton Inov – Bass
Dmytro Sychov – Drums
Anton Skrebov – Guitars
Alex Sitkoff – Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 04 February 2023

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