Released: 2016, Van Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
I can still recall the first time I heard Universe 217. The heavy booming bass and doomy guitars complimented Tania Leontiou’s vocals flawlessly, in their last full length album Never. Now having built up an international fan base and sharing stages with the likes of Amenra and Scott Kelly, Greece’s most notorious doom congregation are back with their full length follow up Change.
Kicking off with ‘Undone’ the band deliver a fully fronted assault of doom metal that is as potent as ever. Tania’s vocals take the lead and soar high above the production along with the war inducing drum pounds. She also displays a greater range in her vocal range as an unexpected softening of her voice wades in around halfway through, evoking a new found maturity in the band's song writing that further adds to their distinctive sound.
‘Counting Hours’ slithers in with gritty bass guitar and a powerful narrative with the opening lyrics “You think you know me well” as the track plunges into dense soundscapes that are both uncompromising and utterly convincing. The screeching vocals provide an extra dose of angst, making track more immediate and visceral.
The record comes with plenty of forward thinking ideas thrown around. From the intricate drum work of ‘Here Comes’ to the crushing tone of ‘Here Comes’. It shows a band who have full confidence in their abilities and who don’t pull any punches.
The haunting beauty of ‘Burn’ is the pinnacle the record. The shimmering melodies and sense of desperation in Tania’s voice elevate the sound to unimaginable heights. The whole thing feels like the band are purging out their demons with unforgiving guitars that show no sign of letting up.
Closing off with ‘Change’, the bone chilling vocals and sprawling guitars wade in with a punishing effect. The band show some progressive leanings with ghastly ambiance and echoing vocals. The track cuts itself short with an uncomfortable silence that leaves you thinking it's all over as a procession of ambient passages flow in with some of the most impressive vocals you're ever likely to hear in female fronted metal.
To say this album is a step in the right direction for Universe 217 is an understatement. Everything, from the instrumentation, production and vocals are all first class. While the raw intensity of the band is still very much prevalent, there are signs of innovation that give them greater focus and more room for exploration. Without a doubt this their strongest offering to date; one that will be hard for anyone to rival.
Review by Ben Spencer