Metal Review – Arkan – Salam (2011)

Arkan - Salam (2011)Arkan’s 2008 release “Hilal” began to define a signature sound for Arkan. Their Arabic-type tones blended with death metal was a distinct treat, but the album had many flaws. With their 2011 release, “Salam,” they aimed to rectify the problems that the last album showed.

With “Salam,” Arkan makes use of clean female vocals from Sarah Layssac. Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land even makes a guest appearance on the song “Deus Vult.”

Beginning with the opening track, aptly titled “Origins,” Arkan once again brings in their signature sound, but with a tighter sound and musicianship that the previous effort. “Origins” is a wicked track with everything that makes Arkan what they are. They are soft female vocals blended with raspy death metal vocals, the distinct Arabic influences and, of course, the metal. Arkan blends more of a melodic death metal to the mix with their songs. Another favorite of mine from “Salam” is the second track “Inner Slaves.” The opening comes in innocently enough, but once the distortion begins, we are treated to some spoken word behind the heavy tones before the actual verse, which slows it down and goes acoustic. For the bridge and chorus, the volume picks up again. “Inner Slaves” has a nice flow to it.

While not perfect, “Salam” has many really nice elements to it, and I have been able to get at least a dozen listens out of this release so far. I am expecting many more out of it too. Arkan seems content to explore many different genres and sounds on this release and it seems to have worked. I can see the tone of the album wearing quickly on some though, so this release is definitely not for everyone.

“Salam” Track Listing:
1. Origins (4:34)
2. Inner Slaves (5:29)
3. Deus Vult’ (5:01)
4. Blind Devotion (4:42)
5. Jerusalem – Sufferpolis (3:02)
6. Beyond Sacred Rules (5:54)
7. Common Ground (0:37)
8. Sweet Opium (2:59)
9. Salam (0:33)
10. Call From Within (4:46)
11. Lightened Heart (0:58)
12. The Eight Doors Of Jannah (4:20)
13. Amaloun Jadid II (16:59)

A whirlwind of Arabic percussion and the magical sound of ancient oriental string instruments lead into a crushing riff of deadly electric guitars. Thus opens “Salam” (“Peace”) the second album of ARKAN  – a Parisian Metal band founded by Foued Moukid in the year 2005. The former drummer of the late THE OLD DEAD TREE raised ARKAN with a clear vision in mind: to amalgamate melodic Death Metal with Oriental traditions, whose roots reach deep down into the ethnic sounds of Algeria and Morocco and into these young musicians. Their  debut “Hilal” (2008) received high praise for its originality and mature songwriting. Now “Salam” witnesses ARKAN reaching an even higher level of mastery. The sounds of East and West, the melodies of North and South are expertly woven together into colourful song textures. Florent Jannier’s deep growls now find their beautiful counterpart in the haunting clear voice of Sarah Layssac, who already supported the band on tour. ARKAN give true meaning to the term Oriental Death Metal. The excellent production by Fredrik Nordström (IN FLAMES, DIMMU BORGIR) in Studio Fredman and a gripping guest appearance of Kobi Farhi (ORPHANED LAND) provide the perfect finish for this masterpiece. Experience the mystical force of the Maghreb (“Place of Sunset”) clad in the strength of modern Metal. ARKAN give you “Salam”!

Foued Moukid: drums & percussion
Florent Jannier: growls
Samir Ramila: guitars
Mus Elkamal: guitars, acoustic guitars, oûd
Sarah Layssac: clear vocals