Tunisia is becoming an emergent force on the international metal scene. Myrath has been making waves for some years now; Carthagods, and Riffburn had their moment in the sun back in 2015; Nawather, and Persona released their debut album last year. And in September this year independent female fronted metal band Persona released their sophomore album, “Metamorphosis”, after a successful Indiegogo campaign to finance it. The band was formed in 2012 by lead guitarist Melik Melek Khelifa and singer / pianist Jelena Dobric and, after several changes, the line-up was completed by Yosri Ouada on rhythm guitar, Youssef Aouadi on drums, Walid Bessadok joined on keyboard and Nesrine Mahbouli took over bass duties.
It’s hard to label Persona’s music simply as symphonic metal because they fuse modern metal with progressive elements, thrash riffs and synth effects with classical orchestration. To all this, they add some extreme metal elements to give their music a more aggressive edge.
Prologue – The Initiation
The Omen of Downfall
Esurience Guilefulness Omnipotence
Armour of Thorns
The Seeress of Triumph
Epilogue – The Final Deliverance
And it works incredibly well! Also, the vocal lines and the lyrics are written and delivered in top notch style, and fit perfectly on the background of aforementioned heavy thrash riffs and pounding drums. Think of something along the lines of Arch Enemy meets Delain, with some prog-oriented twists that will make your head spin, in the best way possible. The title, “Metamorphosis”, was very well chosen, as the band sounds more mature and tighter on this album as compared to their previous release (“Elusive Reflections”, 2016), the songs are more complex with some intricate rhythms, layered instrumental, and varied vocal deliveries that range from beautiful cleans to deep growls (that I don’t remember hearing on their debut album), showing how much vocalist Jelena Dobric and the rest of the band have developed their skills, and how much Persona has evolved as a band. The lyrics are very personal, taken from real life situations, and as such each song presents another aspect of the album’s arching concept. The band has really raised the bar with this album.
Jelena Dobric – vocals
Melik Melek Khelifa – lead guitar
Yosri Ouada – rhythm guitar
Nesrine Mahbouli – bass
Walid Bessadok – keys
Youssef Aouadi – drums
Photo by Rock Raven
The fans and the metal community got a taste of the new music when the band released “The Seeress of Triumph” as the first promo single a few weeks ago. However this song, and “Epilogue – The Final Deliverance”, may be the most accessible and ‘light’ songs on the album, as they feature beautiful underlying piano lines, heavy guitar riffs, a beautiful orchestral arrangement on “Epilogue”, and only clean vocals. The rest of the album is full to the brim with a mix of clean and growls, aggressive instrumental and captivating vocal melodies. And this is evident from the first track, “Prologue – The Initiation” which starts with a playful piano melody but soon the band and the harsh vocals kick in and thus the headbanging can begin. Though this is a guitar-driven album, the piano / keyboard plays a vital part in creating an organ-concert-in-a-gothic-cathedral type of vibe and I love how those sharp tones blend with the guitars, drums, and bass to create impressive melodies as in “Esurience Guilefulness Omnipotence”, “Netherlight” or “In Memoriam”.
Hats off to Walid Bessadok for his keyboard work! As I said before, this is a guitar-heavy album where both Melik Melek Khelifa and Yosri Ouada deliver some intense riffs and solos, and “Hellgrind” is probably the heaviest and hardest song on the album. Personally I can’t get enough of Jelena’s harsh vocals / growls and the way she switches between styles with apparent ease, like in “Bête Noire”, is incredible. At times she reminds me of Vicky Psarakis of The Agonist. She has proved to be a versatile vocalist, capable of going to from whispers and soft singing to death metal growls. Case in point: “Invidia”. I am not exaggerating when I say that “Metamorphosis” could give any highly appreciated symphonic metal album a run for its money in terms of songwriting, heaviness, consistency, and melodicity. It is that good and, as such, I hope to see Persona one day perform at ProgPower USA, as they did at FemME (Female Metal Event), opening for Delain. I do believe the band deserves to be on the festival’s line-up as soon as possible.
In conclusion, this is not an easy album to get into, but it is very dynamic, adventurous, and entertaining. I enjoy it more and more with each spin, as I always discover something I missed before. I rate “Metamorphosis” with a solid 9.5 / 10. Kudos for this masterpiece, guys!
For more info visit: