Persona – Animal (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 13th October 2021
Rating: 9.5/10

Some bands start to run into a trend of simply following what came before them by the time of their third full-length – they have established a sound and are sticking to it.  Not the case for Persona, who have continuously evolved and changed with each new release.  A distinctive hunger runs strong within the band, to the point where the core of the band relocated from Tunisia to Germany between albums.  Animal, as a result, feels even more unique than the band’s past offerings and dishes out quite a diverse array of songs, not to mention some of their best.

The amount of song identity on Animal is impressive, as is the way that the band continues to expand their palette and weave things into each individual song.  It’s the type of album that one could do a track-by-track dissection, but let’s stick to picking a few to get a vibe for the album.  The opener “Ghost” quickly establishes that the band isn’t afraid to move in a more modern direction.  While the symphonic/progressive edge of the band’s identity is still there, there’s something more upbeat and dance-able about the way the lead-off track introduces playful riffs and catchy, rock-like vocal patterns and somehow still makes it sound like Persona.  The title track pushes the modern component further into the mix, with pulsating, bouncy electronics as a major piece of the track, something that contrasts nicely with the band’s ability to put some heavier grooves (and growls) into the same space and have it run smoothly.  Later track “Shadows” is a moving ballad that works because it avoids more saccharine territory and has a more dark and dreary fairy tale feeling to it, one that makes you feel like you are whisked away to a different land.  Closing track “Swallow the Night” has an eerie, lurking and menacing feeling to it, complete with urgent progressive riffing and screams that lead into more epic sounding chorus lines that makes for a thrilling finish. They double down on the heaviness here and it really makes the song stand out in its aggression (as opposed to the toe-tapping catchiness of “Shout Out Loud”).

Playful progressive melodies meet upbeat electronic and symphonic elements, but it’s tethered by a genuinely heavy core.  There’s not a lot out there that sounds quite like Persona’s Animal, but they’ve really struck into some potential gold with all of their moving parts.  Perfect for the modern metal fan that wants something that doesn’t fit into the nicely compacted boxes that the genre sometimes necessitates.  How has a label not picked up this band yet?

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