Written by: Valkyrjiaa
Whiteabbey – Volume Two
> Power Metal
> United Kingdom
> Released November 4
There is no illusion as to the appeal of female-fronted bands across a variety of metal subgenres, and power metal is no different. Whiteabbey is the brainchild of Northern Irish guitarist and producer Steve Moore (Stormzone, Fireland), and features the powerful vocals of the Netherlands’ Tamara Bouwhuis (Dim Crimson), Steve McLaughlin (Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, Sandstone) on lead guitar and vocals, and Ruddiger Spree (Fireland) on drums. Together, this power metal force is proud to unveil their second full-length album entitled simply Volume Two, featuring nine brilliant tracks of female-fronted madness! As with Volume One, this album touches on a variety of influences and inspirations ranging from Power and Symphonic Metal to traditional Heavy elements and others.
The first track “Swan” embraces electronic-like keys to carry in this enigmatic song on soaring vocals, much like the wings that adorn the album’s cover. It tackles the reflections on a broken relationship and the pieces left to crumble afterward. Inspired by an actual swan named Stephen who met an unfortunate end in Belfast Park, the tragedy in this song is strengthened by powerful riffs and an unbeatable melody. It’s a solid introductory track; one that keeps things mellow and steadfast in the journey’s first steps forward before carrying through into more perilous territory.
“Guardian” comes in on a hastened gallop, picking up the energy where the first track left off, and building on its tragedy with a combination of piano keys and heavy bass lines. Tamara’s vocals pick up, leaving lingering notes to flutter in the air like falling feathers, though not to be taken lightly. A song for a Warrior, a Guardian, who stands to defend the weak and vulnerable against those seeking to wrong them, this track rides on an infectious melody, layered with complexity through vocals and mirrored notes from keys to strings; utilizing a balanced harmony throughout, this track dances into a passionate solo that not only makes it a stunner to the mind but, to the ears as well.
A speedier track, “Angels” touches on the inspiration from the movie 30 Days of Night, bringing in the imagery of freezing cold, blood-thirsty monsters, and hopelessness that brings relentless chase at every turn. The backing rhythm of this song is a rapid one that gets adrenaline pumping with its beat, and hearts pumping through the lyrical visuals. “In the curse of the setting sun, it’s the end of days for everyone / We’ve been overrun,” not only strikes on the ear but puts that visual in your mind of being chased by a horde of unforgiving and unsatiated monsters. With a lyrical tagline as catchy as the one here it’s hard not to sing along the moment it catches your ear.
“Shadows” comes in heavy, touching on vibes familiar with albums like Nightwish’s Imaginaerum for its circus-like feel. Speaking of tarot, and fortunes unread, this track balances destiny with past mistakes and those who see through our facade. A frighteningly intense track that blends lower, harsher vocals with a demonic guitar solo derived straight from hell. Though short, its one of my favourites from the album, not only for its feel but its mystery as well.
“Wicked” follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, bringing the heaviness with a trembling drum beat and solid bass line. To have crossed paths with a person who perceives nothing but problems, broken promises, gives minimal effort, and tardiness in all—this song is about them. You can likely picture this person or a familiar character who holds these traits, and this song picks at all of them with viciousness and callous vocal strength that’s as infectious as it is heavy.
Tracks like “Wish” and “Heaven” hold ballad-like semblance, with “Wish” coming in as a powerful track that holds the desire to express ones feelings openly and without consequence. While “Heaven” is the wish—to undo those wrongs, and dream of a time when smiles can conquer fears—both are delicate in their execution, with Tamara’s vocals coming on the finesse of metal glory balanced on lighter drums, steady bass, and divine guitar work.
“You” comes on like a meteor, building up its aggression through thick bass strums and a rising riff that really makes you panic. The trauma of a broken heart, or broken trust, and who to point the finger at, who to blame for it all is “You”. “My soul’s in torment for you” tears into the heart like a hot knife, placing strength in such a line while inflicting a harsh blow. It’s a track that holds nostalgia and painful reflection for everyone at one stage of life or another; having felt betrayed, left behind, or shattered by someone else and left in utter agony. The energy of this track is wild, switching from pain and sorrow to aggression and vengeance on swift wings which easily made it one of my favourites.
The finale on this album comes with Whiteabbey’s cover of “Rule the World” by Take That. It’s a power ballad blend that twists the original from its lighter roots to one with a bit more of a punch. Tamara showcases exquisite vocal prowess on this cover, with Stevie backing her in a perfect blend that melds together but doesn’t overthrow. Pack this cover with a fitting solo, and some wicked riff work, and you’ve got a lighter-flickering track to play on the long car rides home at full blast.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Volume Two is a delicate blend of power metal with influences from symphonic, heavy, and even classic rock that works well for the band’s musical expressions and storytelling. With similarities to Amberian Dawn, this album and Whiteabbey in general are sure to please those looking for lighter, slower power metal that still slams down the riffs, and tears into the heart and soul in hopes of a long-term commitment.