ARKAN
Death Metal / Gothic Metal • France

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Arkan is a French melodic death metal act whose members are mainly of Arabian origin. Consequently, the band has incorporated several elements from Arabian music into their brand of death metal.
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ARKAN Discography

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.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hilal
Death Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.25 | 4 ratings
Salam
Death Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Sofia
Gothic Metal 2014

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.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Burning Flesh
Death Metal 2006

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ARKAN Reviews

ARKAN Sofia

Album · 2014 · Gothic Metal
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J-Man
With their 2011 observation entitled Salam, French metal act Arkan impressed me with their ability to follow many melodic death metal conventions, while still incorporating a Middle Eastern flair that is largely unheard of in this genre. The result was an album that felt familiar enough to instantly click with its listener, but also broke enough rules to leave a lasting impression. 2014's Sofia, the band's third full-length, follows down the same path of its predecessor, though I would argue that Arkan sounds even more unique this time around.

Like Salam, Sofia's main selling point is its Middle Eastern-influenced approach to metal, and although other acts like Orphaned Land and Myrath have similar gimmicks, Arkan sounds unique even when placed next to their stylistic brethren. Sofia is also perhaps the band's most adventurous album to date - the melodic death metal part of the band's sound only sparsely appears here, and it seems as though the band is now playing a Middle Eastern-inspired brand of gothic metal, rather than melodeath. Death growls are used sparingly, and the focal point here is the distinct and angelic performance of vocalist Sarah Layssac. Consequently, Sofia lacks some of the "bite" that impressed me on Salam, but it is also the band's most mature and stylistically consistent album to date.

Whether you enjoy Sofia more or less than Arkan's previous outings ultimately depends on your preferences. If you are a gothic metal fan looking for a unique foray into the genre, Sofia will undoubtedly impress you, but if you (like me) were more into the band's melodeath-focused tracks, this may leave you a bit unsatisfied. Regardless of your preferences, however, there's no doubt that this is a well-performed, well-produced, and extremely catchy album from Arkan. Recommended!

ARKAN Salam

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
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J-Man
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!

ARKAN Salam

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
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The Block
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, but I don’t know, 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.

ARKAN Salam

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Time Signature
Origins...

Genre: oriental metal (heavy melodic death metal with Arabian influences)

I read an article recently by an American rightwinger who argued that immigration was dangerous to the recipient nation. The writer used the large Arabian and North African Arabian population in France as an example of how immigrants threaten and pollute the culture of the recipient nation. What he calls cultural pollution, I call cultural enrichment, as the immigrant groups bring along with them cultural resources that can enrich the recipient culture.

French metallers Arkan, most of whose members belong to the above-mentioned segment of the French population, prove this point. They have taken death metal and injected it with Arabian musical elements, both in terms of instrumentation and scales, and it works great, as eastern scales fit perfectly with metal music (Artillery and many other thrash metal bands have already shown us this). Most of the tracks are midtempo and thus quite heavy (I guess they can be compared to the likes of post-"IVth Crusade" Bolt Thrower" in terms of heaviness), and the riffage combines more "common" metal riff styles with riffage built on eastern scales and bolstered with traditional North African and Arabian percussion and melodies performed on the oud. And, overall, Arkan take a very melodic approach on this album without it ever sounding like Swedish melodeath, and many of the melodies are, of course, more eastern sounding.

While all of this works very well, I must say that what really sends chills down one's back are the beautiful haunting Arabian vocal melodies performed by Sarah Layssac, especially on a track like "Inner Slaves", "Beyond Sacred Rules", and "Sweet Opium". Like many other modern melodic death metal bands, Arkan make use of both harsh male vocals and clean female vocals, but they do so, due to the Arabian influences, in a way that is quite different from what the plethora of Swedish and Finnish melodeath bands do. I mean, with Arkan, the vocals simply sound beautiful!

The combination of western and eastern musical styles and conventions also bring about a very dark and melancholic atmosphere, derived from combination the Arabian scales and distorted heavy metal guitars, me which suits the music perfectly.

This release is a work of genius and the perfect evidence of the positive consequences of culture encounters. Awesome!

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