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Arkan - "Salam" (CD)

Arkan - "Salam" CD cover image

"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)

Reviewed by on March 30, 2011

"For anyone who liked the idea of Orphaned Land but wanted a much stronger death metal presence, 'Salam' is a must-hear album."

Back in 2008, Arkan helped to expand the diversity of metal even further by including Arabic and oriental sounds in brutal death metal with the “Hilal” album. Although not without its flaws, the release showed that metal can’t be pegged down and all fans of the genre should learn to expect the unexpected. In the three year interim, Arkan has matured and progressed this burgeoning sub-genre of “oriental metal” to create an album that isn’t just a mashup of two diverse styles, but a complete package that will be hard to top in future releases.

Like with its predecessor “Hilal” (reviewed here), the Arabic sounds and influences rarely detract from the heaviness on the album. Rather than being a primarily symphonic metal experience, “Salam” sticks fairly consistently to a heavy vibe. The first half of the disc tends to be more crushing than the second half, which has more instrumental interludes, but overall the album is constantly on a simmer getting ready to explode with death metal at any given moment.

This time around the band also makes frequent use of clean female vocals for an added melodic element alongside the deep death growls, and Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land even makes a guest appearance on the song “Deus Vult.” Besides simply changing up the vocal styles, the music itself is much more varied and willing to explore new territory than in the last release. Rather than being relentlessly brutal in some parts and then completely ethnic and melodic in others, the songs instead go for a measured and properly paced assault that blends the two. The tracks also have consistently more staying power this time around, with elements of other metal styles working their way into the guitar playing.

The 37 second instrumental “Common Ground” is where the disc shifts into a more melodic focused atmosphere. It’s not clear if anything is supposed to be read into the length and title of the song, such as if the band is trying to say there’s not enough common ground or common ground is only a small step away from the various religions of the world. Overall the song titles and lyrics seem to head in a direction similar to Orphaned Land, touching on issues of how religions impact the world.

For anyone who liked the idea of Orphaned Land but wanted a much stronger death metal presence, “Salam” is a must-hear album. The band’s second full-length outing is a fantastic blend of modern heavy death metal with traditional Middle Eastern sounds.

Highs: Mature song writing that takes a measured approach of equal parts brutality and melody.

Lows: The final song includes an annoying 10 minutes of silence before a "secret" track, the many instrumental interludes could have been worked into the songs.

Bottom line: Great follow-up to the last album and a more mature and measured approach to mixing metal with Middle Eastern sounds.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)