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Niobeth - Silvery Moonbeams
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Niobeth CD Review
Silvery Moonbeams
Niobeth - Silvery Moonbeams

CD Info
Molusco Records
12 Tracks
English / Spanish Lyrics


We reviewed Niobeth’s original CD, The Shining Harmony of Universe, some time ago. Since then, they’ve done an EP and have just released the present work. I missed the EP but wasn’t about to miss this one. I described their first work as something of a Nightwish on steroids, lots of instruments, a large choir, all the bells and whistles and a soprano to rank with the diva herself. And this one doesn’t disappoint, in fact, from a production standpoint alone, it shows a solid maturation. You still get that solid soprano, and some even better metal, and damn, they even throw in a little Spanish which certainly brings a smile to the face of this old Spanish university graduate. Cantando en su idioma natal es siempre una buena cosa. Y este viejo escritor le da las gracias por este regalo.

The first thing we need to make clear is that this music is classical in nature. If that doesn’t work for you, or if you have a problem with solid operatic vocals, this just ain’t gonna be in your interest zone. But, for the rest of us, this is solid Symphonic, Operatic Gothic, as good as you’ll ever hear. In fact, it’s better than that, and we’ll get into why as we move along. But, the sound does make use of a far larger cast than the four musicians listed as the primary group. And that group remains largely the same from the first offering, with soprano Itea Benedicto providing the lead vocals. However, there are a total of 4 additional guest instrumentalists providing orchestral harp, violin, cello, and flute, several additional male vocals, a six person choir as well as the customary electronics to provide additional orchestra and piano sounds. So we have a lot of music here, and produced to an extraordinary level of excellence. And not to be forgotten is the art work, both photographic and graphic, that makes this one of the most beautiful packages I’ve seen since the last Hugo Flores (Factory of Dreams) package I reviewed.

There are certainly a range of styles in this production, just as there was in the first one. We get some metal, actually a considerable amount of metal and done with some truly interesting guitar work and percussion. But, we get solid symphonic components as well as instrumental work from the additional musicians listed above. Then there’s the choral work which is solid and utilized on a number of tracks. But, beyond that, there is the greater issue of components, what is the music about. First item for the prosecution is this one, entitled My Dead Angel. You may not understand the Spanish interpretation, or the English lyrics, but, from the video you get a pretty solid idea what this one’s about. And, socially relevant music gets high marks from me, especially as rarely as it’s encountered. And this video is one of the best in this realm I’ve ever seen, and addressing a topic of significant relevance, maybe on a par with what I consider to be the standard for this musical direction, Krypteria’s Liberatio. The first CD provided a track aimed at the effect of the Hiroshima bombing on innocent civilians, with a focus on the children. This one aims to broaden that perspective, a touching commentary and one that should find significant interest within any civilized community.

The second item of interest also parallels a direction from the earlier full release. This one is Polovtsian Dances, which you may not be familiar with up front but which, I suspect, you might be familiar with if you heard it. Unfortunately, there is no video of it to link to, at least not the version attributed to Niobeth. With the first CD, the similar title was The Magic Flute, a Mozart composition which put the full range of the featured soprano on display. This one doesn’t focus there, instead, it focuses on one of the greatest classical tunes in history, I’ll provide a classical interpretation here (Bet you weren’t expecting that link on this site, were you. You’ll start to recognize the music at the 3:45 mark.) We do get the soprano in this production, but her vocal is almost used as an instrument, as I suspect was the intent with the original version written by the Russian Alexander Borodin in the opera Prince Igor. You might actually be more familiar with a contemporary interpretation entitled Stranger in Paradise which is more familiar to the non-opera crowd. But this version is extremely well done, a metal version of a classical Russian score that demonstrates the band’s capability to explore difficult and interesting classical work.

Well, those may be the two tracks that garnered the most attention for me but they are certainly not the only ones worthy of mention. The CD begins with The Banished Princess, and begins like a movie soundtrack, with a hunted, breathless sound, followed by a howling wolf. It then moves to one of the more metal sounding tracks on the CD, lots of pounding drums, solid guitar riffs with the solid soprano, and some accompanying vocals, to tell the tale. And that story telling continues with the second track, Eclipse which features the leggy Spanish lass in some interesting outfits. Yo, try and concentrate on the music, OK?

Now, about that Spanish component. There’s only one song done in Spanish, but that’s one more than last time. This one is worth the listen, and not just because I like to hear music in Spanish, although I do. According to lyricist Jesus Diez, "’Campeón’ is a song in loving memory of my father, who sadly passed away on January 14th 2009 when he fainted while walking in the street. He was going to attend to our show with a choir in a theater 10 days after that. My father was loving and such a joyful and strong person, who always tried to get the best of me. He and my mother teached me to be perfectionist and aim always for the best with all my effort, so I wrote this song for him with all my heart. It´s very personal and intimate." The song takes a decidedly Spanish direction, soft Spanish guitar with symphonics that take us to the vocal where our lovely soprano provides a moving reading of those lyrics. And this is one that showcases those vocals, this is solid operatic material with some nice production to make it all come together. Lyrically, we get:

La noche eterna, el oceano azul
tapizado de estrellas y lotos.
Tus sonrisas en el eco,
se que todavia estan ahi.

Clearly, a high point of the CD. But, make no mistake about it, Niobeth can do metal with the best of them. I Know That I Know Nothing starts out with a crushing guitar and a soaring soprano, as only Itea can do it. The song takes a very Nightwish direction, with vocals that clearly leave no space between Itea and the Nightwish diva, the original one, that is. And the lyrics leave little to be desired for those of us who cherish the dark Gothic direction:

Believe that your way
in the afterlife can be;
choose your tomb,
choose your death,
without answer there exists a dream.

Another track of interest is I Need You to Need Me. Here we get both a male vocal and a female vocal, and both work seamlessly. I don’t recall this from the previous effort, but it is certainly a direction that should continue in further efforts.

Niobeth has clearly provided another masterpiece. If you cherish the Symphonic Operatic Gothic, especially when developed with solid classical influences and a first rate soprano, it just doesn’t get much better than this. And, since I gave the first one a 10, and this one is superior, it’s difficult to think off a lower score. Simplemente no puedo imaginar algo mucho mejor.

Darle un 10.

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