Track By Tracks: MASSIVE SCAR ERA - Metal Goes Egyptian (2023)

The album as a whole (LYRICALLY & MUSICALLY):

Metal Goes Egyptian is an EP and in-studio video sessions recorded and filmed with a traditional Egyptian Arabic music orchestra in Studio Mix Art in Montreal, QC. It consists of 6 songs: 2 brand- new and a rearrangement of 4 previously released songs.

Arabic music is typically known for its monophonic nature, emphasizing melodic lines. On the other hand, metal music frequently employs the riffing technique, where chords may provide little information about the melody. This compatibility is why metal is one of the most adaptable genres for incorporating Arabic arrangements without significantly altering the core composition.

In this project, Weka, the arranger of Arabic music, played a significant role in selecting the songs that would best suit to incorporate Arabic arrangement. Our collaborative process facilitated smooth decision-making through ongoing discussions and exchanges of ideas.

We selected songs with Egyptian-flavored vocal ornaments, and these naturally facilitated the harmonious integration of the Arabic arrangement. The intention was to avoid forcibly converting metal music into Egyptian music while ensuring the song's foundational heaviness remained intact.

Track By Track explained:

1. Between Waves:

Between the Waves was the first song that we worked on. It's one of the oldest songs for MSE that wasn't released digitally. In this song's intro, a heavy riff is playing in the background, consisting of just two notes. Weka was free to incorporate the Hijaz scale without constraints, and he used maqam kord as a secondary "gens, " a modern approach to this maqam. That's how the song began. As the song progresses, it transitions into a new section with modulation on the G note, leading into maqam Rust. Finally, the ending of the intro ("Taslim" in Arabic) concludes with a return to the Hijaz scale, creating a glamorous ending.
I wrote this song when I was very young. It was even before I moved to Cairo in 2009. I was still in the process of discovering myself as a person before a lyricist and a songwriter. While I don't resonate with the lyrics anymore, singing this song again reminded me of an entire lifetime.

2. 30 Years:

This is a rearrangement of a previously released song under the same title. I wrote it when I turned 30 when I moved to Canada. I'm used to writing songs and then jamming on them with a drummer to try out different ideas. With the move to Canada, I didn't know any drummer to jam with, and I wasn't ready to network yet, so I had to navigate midi and drum machine, which was a pain - still a pain! But I wrote the drumline for this song on my computer, and with this added knowledge, it gave me a tool to finally express the beats I have in my mind, even if they don't sound great.

3. Oblivious:

Also, a rearrangement of a previously released song under the same title. I altered the way I sang the chorus to match the Arabic ornament played by the orchestra. I didn't have to do this, but I just loved it so much that I couldn't help not singing it. It's a personal song, and its ending always gives me goosebumps. The song explores how people can sometimes misunderstand things without realizing it, either because they don't have all the information or because they're busy with other parts of their lives. It also looks at how our pride can affect how we take in information and how it can be really hard to admit when we're wrong and face our mistakes instead of avoiding them.

4. Back to The Sun:

"Back to the Sun," the fourth track in the EP and the first single, holds a special place for me. It stands out for several reasons, including the captivating chorus sung on a Maqam Rust, which incorporates microtones. The song explores the theme of returning home, where home is not just a physical place, but a feeling of warmth and nostalgia—a place of ease and belonging.

The chorus of "Back to the Sun" beautifully utilizes the Maqam Rust, incorporating a microtone between the third and fourth degrees of the scale. This musical choice enhances the emotional and melancholic impact of the song, adding depth and expressiveness. Microtones, which refer to the pitches that lie between the conventional Western musical notes, allow for subtle variations in pitch within the Maqam Rust scale.

By incorporating microtones, the song achieves a nuanced and evocative melodic quality, capturing the essence of the emotional journey back home. These subtle variations in pitch within the Maqam Rust scale add an additional layer of depth and complexity to the music, enhancing the overall listening experience.

5. Color Blind:

We decided to rearrange this previously released song for inclusion in this project primarily because of its numerous delicate vocal ornaments. These ornaments provided an opportunity for an Arabic arrangement. Once the Arabic arrangement was introduced, these subtle elements became much more pronounced compared to the original arrangement.

I wrote this song after I was denied entry to the USA to play at SXSW with MSE due to the Muslim ban implemented by Trump. Although Egypt wasn't on the banned list, the border officer was cautious about bands from our region participating, fearing it could add to the ongoing protests at the festival. Fortunately, that's all in the past now, and I've been able to perform many shows smoothly in the USA since the situation has improved.

6. Endorphins:

This is a fresh song I composed during the pandemic using my keyboard. Needless to say how challenging the period of isolation was challenging for everyone, and on top of that, I was living alone in Vancouver. Zoom calls, online events, and even making music had become exhausting. I was struggling with feelings of depression and isolation. My career seemed to be at a standstill, and financial concerns weighed heavily on me.

In the midst of this, the middle section in the 9/8 time signature emerged. I had recently come across the Saz VST and was experimenting with it when the arrangement for this part just clicked.

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