Persona makes a surprising comeback at the end of the year with a third album entitled Animal. I had the opportunity to discover it a few days before its release on Saturday 23 October.

Animal, first impressions

Having in mind the first hits of the band like Blinded or Forgotten, it took me a little while to convince myself that I was indeed listening to Persona.

 The band takes a 180 degree turn here and offers on this new opus more modern and aggressive sounds than on the two previous albums, Elusive Reflections (2016) and Metamorphosis (2017). In October 2020 we already discovered a first single, “Alpha”, which announced the return of Persona in great shape with a brand new rhythm section and the desire to take a new direction (an article on this subject is available here).

Looking at the cast of the album, one can assume that the collaboration with German producer Marco Meyer is not totally unrelated to the new style adopted by Persona. While most of the lyrics are still written by singer Jelena Dobric, the music is mainly shared between Marco Meyer and the band’s new drummer, Simon Schröder (who also writes the lyrics for a few tracks).

Persona
What about this new Persona ?

Surprising, yes, but not disappointing. After the frustration of not finding the melodic or even symphonic universe of the old days, one can quickly embark on the wild journey offered by Animal. Ten tracks for forty minutes of music is, in my opinion, the ideal format to enjoy it without going overboard. The album starts with samples reminding us of the prison universe already exploited in the music-video of Alpha. The melodic guitar solos of the previous albums are gone, here it’s more a sequence of electro samples and jerky riffs flirting with death metal, mixed with catchy choruses like on Hurricane or Shout Out Loud. The middle of the album is marked by the masterpiece Shadows, a magnificent ballad of almost six minutes, all in softness which contrasts completely with the rest of the album. The music is subtle and understated, leaving us almost alone with Jelena’s beautiful voice. This track is a real treat from the first listen. My other favourites were You Can’t Stop Me and Oracle for their groovy-funky side, and the dynamic and effective Alpha which had already caught my attention when it was released last year. I had a bit more trouble with Animals, without hating it, but maybe it is too modern for me. At the very end of the album, I let myself be bewitched by Swallow The Night which is worth the diversions just for its mystical atmosphere, one could think of walking through a dark magic shop.

Listening to this new album, I quickly had Amaranthe in mind, even if I don’t know much about the band (but I promise, I’ll get into it soon). To the Swedish fans who will read this review, what do you think ?

A second video was released last week for Ghost, the very first track on the album.

After a four-year absence and a move from Tunisia to Germany, Persona has simply matured. We can indeed feel a desire to take the next step, to take it up a notch. Growls has taken an important place in Jelena’s vocals, perhaps too much for the fans of the first hour, and the music has become more aggressive. What is certain is that the band has managed to renew itself and take risks. It remains to be seen what the new Persona will do on stage. If the setlist mixes tracks from all three albums, it promises to be quite a great moment of diversity !

 

Line-up:
Jelena Dobric – Vocals
Melik Melek Khelifa – Guitars
Yosri Ouada – Guitars
Eike H. Nehen – Bass
Simon Schröder – Drums