ARKAN - Salam [Review]

Genre: Oriental Death Metal

Season of Mist

Release Date: April 18th, 2011

Reviewer: Karim Tarek

Formed in the year 2005, Arkan is one of the bands that sustain my point of France having a rapidly developing, prosperous Metal scene. They bring up together some of the most peculiar, yet enjoyable tunes ever. We could use the term “Oriental Death Metal” as a simple form of describing their musical genre. They released their debut album, “Hilal”, back in 2008, and it has taken them three years since then to hit again with their gem, “Salam.”

You could easily find out from the last couple of sentences that the band certainly has something to do with the Middle East, having given Arabic titles to their albums (In Arabic, “hilal” is crescent, while “salam” means peace), plus incorporating Oriental musical elements into their Death Metal, which is true on a lot of aspects – a lot of the band’s current and past members have Arabic descents, mostly from Morocco as I recall, you could even find a lot of pure Arabic names skimming through the lineup list.

That Middle Eastern background, I guess, is the secret behind all Arkan’s magnificence, uniqueness, and their having that particular sound of theirs. I mean, although they are not the only band that merge Oriental musical elements with Death Metal, they still maintain their own special sound that doesn’t by any chance sound a tad bit like any other band that follows a similar approach.

Although “Hilal” was a pretty solid record, “Salam” came way too more mature, professional, and musically valuable. It certainly exhibits the great development in the band’s standards and clearly points out that during that three-year gap between the two albums, the band were working hardly and diligently enough to make their sound change to the better in an evident way.

The album has a stupendous amount of musical variety and disparity, yet it remains consistent and harmonic. During the one-hour period of the album playtime, you’ll come across a whole lot of different moments; growls, male clean vocals, female clean vocals, various Oriental instrumentations, acoustic guitars, pure Death Metal, grooves, Thrash, and so on. I was really amazed by the band’s ability to add up all those huge amounts of discrepant musical elements and manage to make an exquisite-sounding album out of them, they really got me at that part.

What’s also worth mentioning about “Salam” is that beautiful lady, Sarah Layssac; she, herself, should get lots of credit on that album in particular for her angelic, yet strong vocals that are totally a hell of an enhancement to the music. Her voice is so versatile and flexible; she also has a consummate control over it. Her vocal work on the album was strikingly fitting both the extreme and Oriental Music. I hope we get to see a lot of endowed female vocalists like her in Metal so often.

So, I guess you should all make yourselves a favor and go pick up Arkan’s brand new album, “Salam”, where they literally outdid themselves, and a lot of the bands out there in terms of everything. It’s masterpiece that I enjoyed profusely because I’ve been a fan of Arkan since the release of their debut album, so witnessing them develop and get more mature and skillful like that pretty much gives me endless thrills.

Highlights: Call From Within, Blind Devotion, Origins.

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