On the 5th of January 2023, two of the most successful bands in the Egyptian Metal scene released a lyric video for a collaborative track between them. The track “Scars” was supposed to feature Riverwood vocalist and long-time friend Mahmoud Nader, but they, later on, decided to bring guitarist Seif EL Sokkary and keyboardist Omar Salem to the party. The result is a project that lives up to, and some may even argue exceeds, its ambition. 

The track begins with some futuristic synths (played by Cairopathix’s Nour Eldeen Khaled) and some ethereal vocals that set the tone for what’s about to come. Shortly after that, the bass and drums join in on the first verse and there’s no denying that the chemistry between the band’s rhythm section (Moustafa Nazir on bass and Marwan Khalil on Drums)  is incredibly tight. During the second half of the verse, the rhythm guitars add some extra heaviness thanks to their chunky-yet-modern tone.

Band: Riverwood
Photo art by Dina in Wonderland |

The keyboard licks that play during the pre-chorus part feel like they’re a cry for an epic battle that’s about to begin, and the chorus is nothing short of a battle between the instrumental and the brightly-toned tenor voice of vocalist Sherif Tantawy. Once you hear that chorus with the recurring phrase “Some Saaaaay” at the beginning of each line, you will feel like it’s the highest note you’ve ever heard just because of strong and sustained he makes it.

A new player in this mega collaboration joins as the second verse begins. The vocals of renowned Riverwood frontman Mahmoud Nader give the second verse a much more chesty register that almost makes his performance feel like a part of an opera or a musical theatre piece. With a well-supported voice like that, he gives a very different aesthetic to the high notes in the chorus. Another pleasant surprise was the death growls Nader used to give his part more anger and grit. 

After his chorus, the rhythm section takes full control with a bone-crushing neck-breaking breakdown. The rhythm guitars played by Mr. Hassan Araby will instantly transfer you to a moshpit at a huge concert with how intense they sound in that part. But that’s not all, for the true beast of that section is the distorted keyboard solo played by none other than the great Omar Salem. This keyboard solo fills the place where a lot of listeners would usually be anticipating a guitar solo, but it has enough energy and heaviness to work with the ferocity of the breakdown.

Photo credit: @parcineiamedhat__

We are then moved to a calm interlude with some spoken word, and then one final chorus is sung by both vocalists together in a moment where the styles of both bands are truly and masterfully combined. The song’s self-explanatory lyrics speak of how we metaphorically (and sometimes literally) give ourselves “scars” by fleshing out our pain into works of art and music, and the counter-argument that creating art is what actually heals those scars not forms them. In that last chorus, you can hear the violently cathartic approach that Nader is presenting and the artistic and confident one brought by Sherif. It’s a beautiful contradiction of high notes and harsh screams that yearn for a very similar (yet not completely identical) meaning.

Just when you think the song is over with the chorus and high notes, you’ll find one more breakdown with the great gift of not one, but two guitar solos. The shred fest begins with Seif El Sokkary doing the melodic and shreddy soloing he’s known for, followed by Mohamed Selim‘s super fast and super technical tapping and sweeping. To me, it felt like the fantasy-ridden symphonic path of Riverwood intersected with the modern and ambitious rock of Cairopathix with honest emotion and advanced musicianship being the catalysts that made this unlikely mix become a match made in heaven. 

You can watch the song’s official lyric video on Cairopathix‘s YouTube Channel here: