Montreal-based metal band Massive Scar Era just dropped a surprise single entitled ‘Back to the Sun’, a symphonic exploration of melody in the run up to their upcoming EP ‘Metal Goes Egyptian’.

Founded in Alexandria in 2004, Massive Scar Era is a collaborative project from the multi-talented Cherine Amr - songwriter, singer, guitarist - that has made a name for themselves with their deft fusion of metal, post grunge, punk noise combined with a melodic exploration of Egypto-Arabian musical forms. The band has been instrumental in giving voice to Egypt’s metal scene and has made waves globally with their pioneering efforts, unique sound and an emotional soul not often present in mainstream metal. In listening to ‘Back to the Sun’,' that soul stands at the forefront, characterised by a lyrical warmth and some impressive heavy metal growling.

The track’s opening lines - “Don’t change a thing/or else you’d sound like them/empty with no roots” - are sung in Cherine’s rich timbre above the dark baritone of an electric bass, the gentle tattoo of oriental percussions, the lyrical swell of the kanoon and the lilting notes of the oud. In one word: symphonic. Since 2015, Massive Scar Era has foregone a fixed band membership in support of a collaborative musical approach, which has allowed a fluid experimentation in sound and harmony, while allowing artists to develop an alternative orchestration. ‘Back to the Sun’ is the bittersweet fruit of these collaborative exercises. In describing the single, Cherine writes, “It’s a reflection of the warmth and nostalgia we all carry within us. This song is an ode to the feeling of belonging and the yearning to return to a time and space where we felt at ease.”

While Cherine distinguished herself with her evocative death growls, ‘Back to the Sun’ - aside from a brief metal interlude - relies on an intricate microtonal Maqam Rast as the melancholic backbone of the track’s chorus. Traditional to Arabic music, the Maqam system is melodic improvisation that flavours the pitches and patterns of any piece of music, allowing for subtle pitch variations. Maqam Rast is the close cousin to the major scale in Western composition, but incorporates a microtonal variation between the third and fourth degree of the scale. Music theory aside, the final result is a song that achieves a nuanced melody, intending to capture the essence of the journey to home:  pained, bittersweet and beautiful.

‘Metal Goes Egyptian’ will be released on November 3, 2023. All we can say to Massive Scar is, “Don’t Change a Thing!”