How do you feel about something a bit different, yet still the same in many respects? No, I haven’t gone off my medication – I’m talking about a fresh take of sorts on an already expanded (and ever growing) genre. Spain’s NIOBETH offer their own take on the increasingly popular Symphonic Gothic Metal genre, spicing it up to near Power Metal heights with the use of double bass and songwriting that’s just a little left of center (read, progressive). The compositions are lengthy affairs, with twists and turns aplenty, all advancing through classy leads and keys, a vocalist from the Simone Simons school of operatic singing and a crisp and clear sound.
Speaking of Simone Simons, NIOBETH’s sound most closely resembles Simons’ band, EPICA, without the male vocals, and more extreme parts. Take a small dash of NIGHTWISH’s “Oceanborn” – because what band in this genre isn’t influenced by that album – and you pretty much have “The Shining Harmony Of Universe” pegged. However, unlike the band’s longer-running comtemporaries, it’s pretty evident that NIOBETH are on album number one, as the songs tend to get a little aimless and long-winded at times. In fact pretty much every song could benefit from an unbiased, outside ear aiding the band in trimming the fat. It’s not as though the songs lack direction, as each one ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion, but the route to said conclusion often takes some unnecessary detours. With this being NIOBETH’s first album though, and when keeping in mind the obvious chops these Spaniards possess, it’s likely only a matter of maturing until their songwriting takes a turn towards the brilliant. With that in mind, “The Shining Harmony Of Universe” gets a mild recommendation, but NIOBETH as a whole earn the label of band to watch for in the future.
(Online February 15, 2009)