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Through the various full-lengths, collaborations and EPs, Greece’s Universe 217 has proved that they are masters of an emotional, experimental edge of the doom spectrum. That much becomes apparent from their previous album, Never, on which that the band achieved new heights in terms of song crafting and depth.

Change further solidifies the work that was presented in Never. Through the construction of a solid doom core, the band expands into additional territories, as heavy riffs come pummeling down. However, that does not mean they limit themselves to that style. Drone motifs present themselves in parts of “Rest Here,” and “Change” gives rise to minimal aspects of their sound, while emotional turns are awakened through the majority of “Burn.” It is not just the use of melodic, ambient parts that give an emotive kick; the band goes to extreme measures when a desperate and agitated tone needs to register, as is the case with “Counting Hours” and “Here Comes.” There are even moments where stonerized aspects of the band will come about, granting the parts a bit more grit and dirt.

As was the case also with the previous album, the instruments are perfectly in tune with singer Tanya Leontiou's voice from the imposing character of “Counting Hours” and “Here Comes,” to the emotional awakenings of “Burn” and “Call” and finally to the extreme outbreaks (with cutthroat performance) spread all over this work. On the title track, her voice takes the spotlight through the minimal construction and to the heavier, doom moments of the track.

What all this boils down to is the experimental scope of the band. Simple additions, such as post-metal leanings in “Counting Hours” can definitely take you a long way, as do the ambient passages in the same track. It is basically the merging of the doom sound with that ambient approach that yields the best results for Universe217--that is when they are at their strongest, managing to create stunning works of heavy music. Throw in the melodic aspect also, and you suddenly find yourself going through spiraling mazes of sorrowfully crafted soundscapes, or mysterious sceneries.

Change is a definite step forward when compared to Never. Even though the feel between the two records is not dissimilar, Change is easily superior in terms of song structure, performance and scope from the band. It feels like this is the pinnacle of the band's career so far, and it would be the perfect ending to their current chapter. Based on their experimental view, it is interesting to try and theorize what their next step would be, and hopefully they will surprise us there as well.

—Spyros Stasis

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Change is out now via Ván Records. Follow Universe217 on Facebook.

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