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Review: Persona – Animal

by Zoran Pavlović


Persona – Animal

You Can’t Stop Me
Shout out Loud
Swallow the Night

Tunisian-German armada aims to own European modern metal scene and more

А few days ago, I received a task from my Vjeran to review the brand new album of the Tunisian-German band Persona. Probably knowing that despite the very solid, decades of my heavy metal madness, my love for music in general can provide a very objective review of an album like it is new CD Animal whose release is announced for October 23rd. Whenever I thought of Tunisia, my first associations were always Carthage, exotics, fantastic food and of course, Myrat, one of the most recognized progressive power metal bands who put Tunisia on the heavy world map with their musical skills and gorgeous oriental flavour since 2006.

Persona is originally a Tunisian band that was formed when the paths of the female singer with a very luxurious and highly educated vocals but also beauty Jelena Dobrić, born and raised in Serbia, and lead guitarist Melik Melek Khelifa crossed due same musical interests and which was crowned by…what’s one of the most beautiful things in one’s life?…love and marriage, sure.

The Tunisian heavy metal scene is small but incredibly productive with very talented and perfect musicians who add their own mark to originallity and what the scene is famous for. Of course, we don’t count a large number of wild heavy metal fans there despite the fact that the country is pretty conservative in regards to heavy metal music and rock’n’roll generally.

Already with the first CD Elusive reflections (released at the very end of 2015) Persona announced the avant-garde that will continue on the next CD Metamorfosis (released in 2017) where each member gave his stamp in accordance with their musical preferences starting from the elements of heavy and thrash metal which was the main musical background but all spiced with very well packaged djenty, groovy and progressive power metal guitar sound, carefully dosed electronics and keyboards and, above all, the incredibly high-quality vocals of Jelena Dobrić and the musicality of each of the band members individually.

In 2019, the band continued its work on a new location, in Hanover. There have been personal changes due to the relocation of the band to Germany. Original members Youssef Aouadi (drums), Walid Bessadok (keyboards) and Nesrine Mahbouli (bass guitar) have also been replaced by young equally talented musicians from Germany and this new line-up recorded material for the album Animal. The video single Alpha was an introduction that also announced changes, evolution and maturity in the musical style.

Persona’s latest release is even more progressive in terms of the band’s musical evolution. The very first opening moments for the song Ghost announce the direction of the entire album, which differs in many ways from the previous ones. Artillery of djenty colored guitars and fantastically designed arrangements pin you to a chair and constantly sway you in a rhythm while you are trying headbanging within the energic rhythm making sure your headphones don’t fall off. Jelena’s vocals are perfect. Very well exploited vocal abilities, ranging from high but subtle gothic, sometimes with small opera influences, sometimes lowered, following the groovy rhythms, all the way to the insane growls, which for the first time the singer uses abundantly and that she’s dared to master. Not a single monotonous moment can be noticed in the songs. Although short, the songs abound in a wealth of incredible sudden melodic and musical shifts spiced with subtle electronics and pads most often in the form of short barely noticeable Prodigy or Fatithles moments. Have in mind that I observe all the aspects from distance without any bias because I am much prone to what’s nowadays known as true or traditional heavy metal and subgenres very close to these roots, then 70’s hard rock kinda Thin Lizzy, Montrose, Rush, Triumph…simply I am a lover of all kinds of great music but primarilly heavy metal.

It is very difficult to determine the highligts of the whole album. First of all, although the previous albums were technically extremelly well produced and played, this one goes a step further. In terms of lyrics, the band deals with psychological-metaphorical topics, touching on metaphysics and philosophy, but in each of them there is hope and strength that an individual should have in a cruel world. It is no wonder that the band has be chosed the name by which it became known to a very wide audience and gained a huge fan base especially in Europe but also in both Americas as well as great reviews. Further exploring in music led to the almost complete absence of virtuoso solos for which Melik is known, but this is completely imperceptible due to the enormous energy and very complicated rhythmic sections of both the guitar and other instruments. The new drummer Simon Schröder and bass guitarist Eike H. Nehen natives to Germany are real fury, which could be also said for the previous members, but this time they both give their own stamp. I would especially like to single out the fantastic ballad Shadows that begins with the melancholic sound of the piano and the gothic atmosphere, but Jelena’s angelic vocals and heavenly melodies contribute to a relaxing atmosphere with a lot of melodical shifts. If I have to choose my favorite song from this album which is extremely difficult then it would be the aforementioned song which is in the spirit of some of the best accomplishments of bands like Nightwish, Xandria or Evanesence but having its own flavour and could easily be remarkable hit. worldwide. Worth to mention Martin Schnella, Nancy Thielscher, Marco Meyer which contributed to great production, mastering and effects.

With accomplishing of current musical goal, Persona, I am sure, entered the team of the world’s biggest names in modern metal, especially the European scene, and I believe that band will gain the affection and attention of many new fans not only from the domain of alternative, groove, progressive or gothic metal but also many fans of true heavy metal like me which aren’t strict elitists and even great number of those who are not in favor of metal music. Jelena celebrated her birthday a few days ago, so this review is kind of our best wishes to her and the other band members for the huge success in our metal galaxy.

Waiting for the upcoming release in CD format let’s enjoy band’s current video single for the song Alpha which is 9th track on the album.

Line up:
Jelena Dobric – Vocals
Melik Melek Khelifa – Lead Guitars
Yosri Ouada – Guitars
Eike H. Nehen – Bass
Simon Schröder – Drums
BANDCAMP: https://personaband.bandcamp.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/personaband
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/c/PERSONAOffi…
INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/persona_band/
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.persona.tn
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/persona_band

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