2017’s SXSW Music festival wasn’t just confusing for all acts involved, but for several bands, it was a complete clusterfuck. Pitchfork Online reported that, “At least 6 bands [were] blocked from entering because of visa issues. Soviet Soviet, Yussef Kamaal, Massive Scar Era, ELOQ, Trementina, and Yung Beef . All claim they have been blocked from our shores.” This wasn’t just a claim. Many bands ended up being told that their visas weren’t the correct kind, despite letters from SXSW saying the contrary. Several on this list were held in jail cells overnight before being sent home. All this after a controversy over SXSW contracts having a “deportation” clause. SXSW has issued several statements affirming that the contracts would be updated in 2018, and communication with the international bands would be better managed.
As the old saying goes, all publicity is good publicity. The controversy was excellent for me, because it put a new band on my radar, Massive Scar Era. Cherine Amr (vocals/guitar) and Nancy Mounir (vocals/Violin) are a fusion of hardcore and, dazzling enough, Middle Eastern music. The band formed in 2005 in Egypt, with Amr wanting to write and perform metalcore, while negotiating familial restrictions on playing with male musicians. She met up with Mounir, a classically trained musician, and both discovered they could successfully intermingle both genres. Since forming, they’ve assembled the following:
Reincarnation |EP 2006
Unfamiliar Territory |EP 2010
Precautionary Measures |EP 2011
Comes Around You |EP 2012
30 Years EP 2016
They currently count both Vancouver and Cairo as home, and take an extra drummer and bassist on tour.
Massive Scar Era takes hardcore and traditional Middle Eastern music and stitches them together in both delightful and satisfying ways. Their vocals, done both in English and Arabic, punch you in the face and caress your cheek equally. One hears heavy, crunchy guitar with traditional violin that seems to float around the the melody. Their lyrics tend to stay away from the political, sticking to challenges of love and living. Massive Scar Era is fierce enough to challenge tradition, but also say it’s ok to celebrate old school.
Massive Scar Era’s music can be purchased or streamed from all online music outlets. According to their website, there are no concert dates at the moment.