Call From Within
By itself oriental death metal is a very cool genre, with very complex sounds and intricate melodies that are usually closely tied with Arabic music. But, French death metal act Arkan takes it to a new level with the release of Salam. Throughout the album it becomes quite evident that most of the band members are originally Arabian, and this adds a great touch and authenticity to the music.
The best part of this album is definitely the Arabian touches, which mostly come from Foued Moukid who, in addition to drums and percussion, plays bendir, derbouka, tablas, cajon, and Mus El Kamal who plays both the oud and guitar. The oud is probably my favorite of all these for its diverse sound and great ability to blend with Arkan's sound. A great example of this is the beginning of 'Origins'. The oud provides a great couple of opening riffs and flows awesomely into a more metal drum and guitar riff. That right there is the basis of most of Salam, and it totally great. Though, the oud is only used sparingly throughout the album, in place of guitars, the scales and chords that are played on it blend very nicely with the style of metal that Arkan plays. Salam isn't totally covered in oriental and Arabic melodies, and that is what makes it so good. Personally, if it was all oriental death metal, I wouldn't like it nearly as much because it would lack diversity between regular metal and oriental. Arkan has found that happy medium between the two that will both engross listeners and keep them interested.
The vocals on Salam are also very good and well sung. I especially like the difference between the dark, harsher growls of Florent Jannier and the clean vocals of Sarah Layssac. Besides the obvious difference that Jannier is a man and Layssac is a female, both of their vocal styles are completely different; growls and clean vocals, respectively. Even though their so different they go together perfectly on the album, and provide exceptional sound. 'Inner Slaves' and 'Sweet Opium' are perfect examples of this.
The production is very good and compliments Arkan's style very well. One thing I don't like about this album, though, is that the last song, 'Amaloun Jadid II', is way to long. I don't know if this was the bands intention, or just the promo copy I have, but there is about two minutes of music in the beginning and then four minutes of music at the end. This might not seem odd, but the song is 17 minutes long! So in between there is eleven minutes of dead space where nothing is playing, at all. I've turned my speakers up as far as they go and yet I've yet to here a thing during that eleven minute 'intermission'. The band might've intended for this, as a hidden track or something, but all I know is, is that I don't like it. But, other than that the album is perfectly fine, and pretty awesome at that.
Arkan's second full-album release, Salam, is a great piece of oriental death metal, and a must get for all metal fans. With great metal riffs infused with Arabic flavors Salam is an awesome release by a relatively new death metal act. For their great release Arkan gets 4 stars.
2. Inner Slaves
3. Deus Vult (feat. Kobi Farhi)
4. Blind Devotion
5. Jerusalem - Sufferpolis
6. Beyond Sacred Rules
7. Common Ground
8. Sweet Opium
10. Call From Within
11. Lightened Heart
12. The Eight Doors Of Jannah
13. Amaloun Jadid II
Added: June 27th 2011
Reviewer: Brian Block
Related Link: Band Website
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Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-27 12:09:48
The standard Gothenburg-styled melodic death metal has become a bit stagnant over the last few years. With hordes of In Flames and Dark Tranquility clones on the scene, many of them sub-par at best, you could confidently say that melodeath has seen better days in terms of innovation. One of the rare exceptions to this rule is France's Arkan - a band with a revolutionary melodic death metal sound. Salam, the band's second full-length album, removes all traces of Scandinavian influence from its core sound in favor of Arabian/Middle Eastern elements. This is a pretty original idea for a death metal album (especially when one considers just how prevalent those Arabian influences are), but possibly more impressive is the general quality of the release itself. Salam is a damn good effort that anyone craving forward-thinking and innovative melodeath should get in their collection!
As previously mentioned, Arkan plays a pretty unique style of melodic death metal. They rely heavily on Middle Eastern instrumentation (oud, bendir, derbouka, tablas, and cajon are all used on the album), as well as incorporating Oriental-influenced melodies and scales. The angelic vocals from Sarah Layssac also help give Salam an Oriental tinge. Although there are plenty of heavy riffs and fast sections, this is a generally mid-tempo album with a lot of clean vocals and softer sections. This isn't the most brutal album you'll ever hear, but it still has enough growled vocals and heavy riffs to satisfy most open-minded death metal fans. Compositionally, Salam is memorable, varied, and generally consistent. The one-hour playing time could've been reduced just a tad in my opinion, but it's not a major complaint.
Unsurprisingly, the production from Fredrik Nordström is absolutely spectacular. Salam has a clear, polished, and powerful sound perfectly suited for this style of music. The musicianship is also exceptional across the board, with multi-instrumentalist Foued Moukid especially standing out for his mastery conventional (by metal standards) and Middle Eastern instruments. Throughout the course of the album he plays drums, percussion, bendir, derbouka, tablas, and cajon - just reading that is impressive, but hearing it is even more spectacular!
Salam may not be a completely perfect album, but that isn't entirely expected from an album this innovative and original. This is one of the most groundbreaking melodic death metal albums I've ever heard, it's very professional, and the vast majority of the compositions are tremendous - those assets alone are enough to give this observation a warm recommendation to all extreme metal fans. 4 stars are well-deserved for this stunning album from Arkan. If you're searching for something different than your standard run-of-the-mill Swedish melodeath, then look no further!
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