Space Of Variations – Imago (Album Review)

Release Date: May 20th 2022 - Napalm Records

Space of Variations - Imago

I have never heard of the Ukrainian band SPACE OF VARIATIONS before, but given I do enjoy some Metalcore I decided to give it a go. As a designer and graphic communicator, I can’t help but judge releases based on their graphic choices, and I pretty much knew where this band was going when I saw the album track list and the way all tracks were written in funky styles, like ALL CAPS, numb3rs, punctuation signs, etc. I always found that particular trope one of the most unnecessary ones during the Nu-Metal era of the early 2000s. SPACE OF VARIATIONS play a very commercial type of Metalcore, usually with unclean verses and clean Emo-y choruses, taking in the recent success of bands like Ice Nine Kills and I Prevail as a very clear influence.

The album starts somewhat weak with “Someone Else”, in my opinion. This is a jumpy song where you can immediately notice the Nu Metal and Metalcore sounds that strongly influence the band. The chorus is very catchy and the riffs chunky, but the annoying voice samples bring this song down. “Vein.mp3” is next, with its more Trance-core style. The electronic intro is very neat and creates a tense atmosphere. Everything marches okay till the chorus arrives. I just can’t help but feel it is a bit on the cliche side. “NON-HUMAN CLUB 2.0” starts with some cheerleader-style chants, and becomes a very danceable Metalcore song that sounds perfect to be a crowd-pleaser, but once again, the not very interesting chorus brings it down. Shame, because the main riff and verses sections are solid. “DNA molecule in a million of dimensions” is the first song of the album that I am truly enjoying. I like the fact that the band decided to experiment a bit with this one, adding odd time signatures and interesting patterns. The atmospheric section in the middle is a massive win for this song as well. It builds tension perfectly for a crushing breakdown riff. Next is “Slaughterhouse”, a very commercial-sounding track that strongly reminds me of I Prevail. This one has some very interesting sections and very good guitar work. Not a standout track, but it feels better than the lukewarm album openers.

The middle section of the album feels like a genuine breath of fresh air, both in style and musical prowess. “OUTER SPACE” is a very melodic song with well-achieved electronic passages and catchy melodies throughout. Very radio-friendly, but one of the most solid songs so far. We start to notice that the band is at its best when playing more melodically and not so unrestrained. “1M followers” brings some 90s Alt. Metal with its dissonant main riff and screamed verses. The chorus feels like it came out directly out of 1998, and although some sections are too samey, the closing riff is an absolute killer. “OCEAN OF MADNESS” keeps the Alt. Rock feeling. This is the most radio-friendly song in the whole album, but it actually works. It is also one of the most consistent tracks overall, but as far as metal as the band gets. “FACE TO FACE” is an amazing song. It plays perfectly with dynamics, starting with a very mellow verse section and slowly building up to a soaring chorus and some of the most neck-ripping riffs in the whole album. My favorite song so far. “IMAGO” keeps it strong with its very Korn-influenced riffing. One of the most ear-wormy choruses and standout riffs make this song one of the highlights of the album.  After a much better middle section, I was eager to find out how would the album finish. Unfortunately, the songs in the 3rd act, are a bit more hit and miss. “Brahmastra” has some of the best and most technical riffing in the recording, and the pounding kicks are very enjoyable, but it also has some rather weird vocal sections that bring it down a bit. “serial killer” is a very short and mellow track that feels like we have all heard it before. A little bit too Emo for my personal liking, but still enjoyable if you’re into that style. “ULTRABEAT” is the last full song in the album, and more a miss than a hit in my books. Very Nu-Metal influenced, and I find the Hip Hop section in Ukrainian a rather odd choice to close the album with. “Ellipsis” is a minute-long electronic outro that has nothing interesting going for it, totally skippable.

Production-wise this album is mostly okay. The sounds are well balanced, and although the bass is barely noticeable in many tracks, I appreciate that it isn’t as over-produced as many recordings of the same subgenre. Some of the musical choices the band makes can come across as obnoxious or cliche, and I personally think that this band is at its best when they play more melodically, and although they have very good ideas and riffs, some of the songs end up feeling a bit uninspired or disjointed even. If you like Metalcore and more commercial-sounding heavy music, you will enjoy this one, but it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table in my opinion.

Album highlights: DNA molecule in a million of dimensions, Outer Space, Face to Face, Imago

For fans of: I Prevail, Ice Nine Kills, We Came As Romans, The Amity Affliction

SPACE OF VARIATIONS: Facebook

Release Year: 2022
Label: Napalm Records
Category: Album
Country: Ukraine

Reviewed by Roman Ibarra