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.