Thursday, 17 November 2016

Portrait of Mascara

Here we are once again at Music Time of The Week! This time around, I decided to check out two new-to-me acts from Egypt!

Portrait Avenue
Formed in 2008, Portrait Avenue began life as an instrumental act, but recruited a vocalist by the end of 2009. Their music has an experimental/indie sound, and their 8-member lineup includes a violinist and a keyboardist (and Sparta the dog). They have previously won Egyptian's Got Talent Battle of the Bands, and the Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition in the Middle East.
Something that really struck me with Portrait Avenue's music was the vocals, which were high and soft for what I'd usually expect from a male vocalist. Still, the vocalist are very easy to listen to!
The band's music strikes me as something that would be popular as 'chillout' music, or - given a more thumping beat and a faster tempo - clubbing music. It's interesting to hear such a similar sound played at a slower tempo, and I quite like it--really peaceful and relaxing!
Portrait Avenue on Facebook

Massive Scar Era
Nicknamed Mascara, this heavy metal band formed in Alexandria in 2005, though are now based in Cairo, Egypt, and also Vancouver in Canada.
As with Portrait Avenue, the vocals really stood out to me, this time in that the vocalist (and founder) is female, which seems rare for heavy metal bands, though this is only based on my minimal knowledge! Massive Scar Era began as an all-female band, only gaining more members in 2011.
The core of their music has the kind of heavy metal sound I'd expect, but including violin and classical and Middle Eastern influences (particularly noticable in some of the vocals) gives them a more unique twist.
Massive Scar Era's music isn't really my thing because I'm really picky when it comes to growling/shouting in music. However, it's really great to see a female presence in such a male-dominated genre!
Massive Scar Era Official Website

Well, these two acts couldn't have been much more different in genre--yet despite that still had similarities in other ways, such as surprising vocals and the presence of violin. Goes to show that genres certainly don't restrict content!

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