What is Persona? It can be defined as a social role or a character played b……oh sorry that’s the English definition of the word….(yes I know the joke is lame but at least it’s not a boring intro 😛 )
The band, Persona, is a pretty interesting outfit. They hail from the Tunisia ( a country that produced one of my favourite African bands, Myrath), and they….uh….Man, making an interesting intro is hard. Anyway, Persona is a metal band. By that I mean they play metal not that they are a band made of a metallic substance.
So while I have not yet listened to their debut album, Elusive Reflections, I have heard good things about it from all sorts of websites. One reviewer called it a “Precocious and powerful debut album”.
Well now, in 2017, the band has dropped a sophomore album and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.
The album opens with “Prologue – the Initiation” and the vibe I immediately get from the opening piano keys is “This sounds like it could be a soundtrack for a final fantasy game”. The song then kicks off with some hard hitting drums and haunting guitar/piano parts. Actually, it’s more of a church organ sound than a typical piano.
“The Omen of Downfall” the next track also opens with a mellow piano sequence that, still makes me think of final fantasy, which isn’t a bad thing. The sound is quite epic sounding due to the symphonic elements present in the song. Also its 7 minutes long. At the 3:55-minute mark, the intensity of the song does pick up and there are even guitar solos in the mix. Then there’s a slight tempo change at the 4:20-minute mark that does keep things from getting boring. I think they did a good job of making sure the song stayed fresh and interesting to listen to despite its length.
“Esurience Guilefulness Omnipotence”……yes it’s a mouthful. Is the third track on the album and has a more thrashy style opening. The guitar work on this song is quite nice. And the motive/motif is pretty memorable and is probably why I enjoyed the song so much.
“Armour of thorns” opens with some nice guitar riffs and is a pretty cool song. I will be honest it didn’t really leave an impression on me on my first listen but over time I grew to appreciate it. The drumming and synth effects are what stood out to me on this song. It’s at this point I realized that the drumming on the album is actually really well done. It’s not so flashy, it’s distracting and it’s not so simple, it’s monotonous and just…there in the background. Youssef (Drummer), you did well.
“Netherlight” is a very synth-heavy track and I’m listening to it as I type this sentence and there’s a synth section that reminded me of Stranger things (It’s a TV Show on Netflix). The song has a very epic yet melancholic feel to it and is almost 8 minutes long.
The opening riff of “Bete Noire” snaps you straight out of the mellow melancholy that Netherlight put you in. It’s a pretty catchy riff. “Invidia” follows with a bass taking lead in the opening minute of the track and is also another song that didn’t strike me on first listen but upon a second and third listen I found the song to be quite well done and dynamic, in terms of songwriting. The bass and mellow synths take the lead in the verses and opening while the chorus has heavy guitars and some pummeling double bass drumming. The contrast is pretty cool.
Then comes “Hellgrind”, the intro of this song sounded so Death Metal and while things don’t sound as intense going forward it’s still a good song. I do wish it kept that intensity the intro opened with. Also, things do get very progy in the second half of the song with some gojira-esque guitar work and a rhythm change in the mix. There were some blast beats in there too so, that was cool.
This followed by “Credence” which opens with a deceptively mellow clean guitar work. I say deceptive ‘cause the tempo switch that takes place at the 1-minute mark was pretty intense.
The opening of “In Memoriam” is quite intense and epic and is a pretty fun listen. And the lyrics kinda stood out to me. I think it’s about someone who is either super in love and the love interest isn’t caring enough or is abusive?
“The Seeress of Triumph” opens with this catchy piano segment that before the guitars come in. There’s something funky about the chugging and the piano in the song. It’s just easy to bob your head to. The singing and instrumentation at the 3:20-minute mark was pretty epic, as well. So much so that the song could have been a good album closer.
Speaking of album closers, “Epilogue – The Final Deliverance” is pretty good one. The soundscape at the chorus was really epic. And this epic sound transmissions into this very jazzy bridge before the second verse kicks in. After the second chorus, the guitars go on a tapping spree that reminds me of “the gift of guilt” by Gojira. I didn’t realize how good of an album closer this was on first listen….like…by the time the song ends, it’s like ”wow the journey is over”
I’ve already said a lot so I’ll TRY to make this conclusion as short as I can. So upon first listen, the album didn’t really strike me as something I’d eagerly recommend to people unless they were fans of the symphonic/progressive metal genre. Maybe it’s because Symphonic metal isn’t a genre I listen to often. But upon repeated listening, I started noticing just how well the songs on this album were written. No two songs sound so similar that you’d mistake one for the other.
Also, no member of this band was cast in the shadows of the others. Everyone brought something to the table. From Jelena’s seamless transitions from cleans singing to harsh vocals, to the guitar work, to the really good drumming and the bass sounding just right. No one rested on their loins in this album. And the synergy between the instruments is really cool.
And while I do feel that the harsh vocals aren’t great, they aren’t bad at all. Plus this is a young band, there’s a lot of room for improvement in whatever areas need to be improved.
So, anyone who is a fan of progressive/symphonic/female-fronted bands really should give this listen. Not feeling it on first listen, listen again. Trust me.