ARKAN — Salam (review)

ARKAN — Salam album cover Album · 2011 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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!
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more than 2 years ago
Well, the use of Arabian and Persian scales in metal is not a new thing, but - yeah - an all out fusion like this one seems quite rare.
J-Man wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thanks for the feedback! This really is an awesome album - glad I helped prompt you to check it out. The idea of Arabian music meets death metal really is intriguing and it's a shame more bands don't try experimenting with the sound!
Coffin Joe wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I'm totally liking what I'm hearing! This is not your average run-of-the-mill swedish melo-death. Oh & great review btw.
Coffin Joe wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Too bad there isn't more arabian influenced albums out there

more than 2 years ago
I think it's a very good album. I love the Arabian influences.
Coffin Joe wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This sounds interesting- will give it a spin
more than 2 years ago
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice album!

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