2013 has been another strong year for doom metal but just when you think you’ve heard all there is for the genre to throw at you there comes along something else that tweaks the formula that extra little bit and gives you something that you may not have heard before.
Universe217 are a female-fronted doom band from Greece but singer Tanya’s vocals are a far cry from what you would expect, emerging from nothing to a powerful wail on opening track ‘Mouth’. Bringing to mind the powerful air-raid siren style of Bruce Dickinson with the melancholic edge of classic Candlemass, Tanya’s voice is an instrument unto itself as she rises over the backing track, itself building in scale before ending as abruptly as it began.
The haunting ‘Enter’, complete with Gothic keyboards and layers of thick guitars, ups the power levels into a percussive stomp before breaking down into the bass-led groove of ‘Mark My World’, Tanya’s rich voice giving the occasionally cold music some character.
But just because something is a little different from the norm doesn’t always mean it’s better, and for every ‘Mark My World’ there is an ‘Electrified’ which doesn’t resonate as much as you feel it should. Maybe it’s because it’s sandwiched between the 11-minute might of ‘She’ and the epic title track that it doesn’t seem to do much, but you can’t have everything.
Overall, “Never” is an album that will take a few listens to really appreciate but there is enough happening here to mark out Universe217 from the hordes of European doom/Gothic metal bands as a unit that are trying to push the envelope and create their own sound within an already packed sub-genre, and on this evidence they’re well on their way to achieving just that.