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Universe 217: Change

Oddball doom from dark Hellenic hinterlands

Universe 217 album

Given some of the political and social upheavals they’ve experienced in recent years, it should come as no surprise that Greece is producing records as thrillingly despondent as this.

On the surface, Universe 217 is a doom metal band, albeit one with a penchant for experimentation. But dig deeper into Change and there’s something far less easily defined simmering away: a frisson of some ongoing, untamed evolution that encompasses a far broader and more eclectic array of influences. Opening track Undone registers with the same baleful, slow-motion thud that fans of Avatarium will recognise and embrace, and the sober crawl of Burn favours simplicity and emotional precision over any bold sonic excursions.

It’s not until the closing track that Universe 217 truly stretch out and shed their most familiar reference points: 12 minutes of amorphous, harrowing gloom that veers from macabre pentatonics to a new wave-like textural wash via moments of fragility and fractious ambience.

It’s a stunning climax and suggests that the band’s next album could be something genuinely extraordinary.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.