If you know, have interacted with me through social media, or have seen my list of top albums of 2019, you would already know that I’m an Opeth fanboy. I love, basically, everything that the band has released. You would also probably know that I’m a bass player and (yes, you guessed it!) Martin Méndez is my favorite bass player and one of my top inspirations to play the four-stringed instrument. So, when I heard that he was releasing a new Death Metal project, called White Stones, I was equally excited and confused. When talking about the release of the infamous Heritage (Roadrunner Records), Mikael Åkerfeldt, singer, songwriter, and guitar player from Opeth, stated that they wrote a Death Metal record as a follow up for Watershed (Roadrunner Records), which is their last heavy record, but Méndez talked him out of it stating that was not the music that he should be writing for Opeth. Can you understand my confusion now?
Moving on to Kuarahy (Nuclear Blast), this is a very interesting album that brings more questions to the table. First, and foremost, we may believe, and for good measure, that Mikael is the main writer at the Opeth camp, but there are a lot of “Opeth-like” riffs and passages through this record. Tracks like ‘Drowned in Time’ and ‘Infected Soul’ which start with the slow, melodic parts that the Swedish band has us accustomed to and ‘Rusty Shell’ which has those tasty, heavy riffs, which makes this track a perfect one to start the album with. The production of the album is also very compelling. Though not necessarily as loud as we would be used to listen to the guitars in a mix of a Death Metal album, the album still comes across as heavy and could make you headbang to the nice grooves that most of the tracks have. All the tracks feature growled vocals, which brings a very dark aura into the album. What I believe is even more fascinating that this is a very Latin-American approach towards Death Metal, and it makes sense being that Méndez is from Uruguay and the whole concept of the album is focused on his roots. This album also features some extremely heavy parts where it also includes blast beats like on tracks like ‘Rusty Shell’, ‘Ashes’, ‘Taste of Blood’, which bring total headbanging sessions within the album’s melodic side.
Being the second member of Opeth with the most time being in the band, and being close with Mikael, we can infer that Méndez’s music views influence greatly the musical direction of both bands. Of course, this is his solo project, which makes things even more interesting and could give us a clearer idea of how things are handled. I’m not sure if we’ll hear more White Stones in the future, but I don’t mind if we do. If these are Opeth b-sides or whatever they are, it is still coming from the mind of a genius musician. So, if you’re looking for new music or want to have a bit of remembrance of the old Opeth days (oh, give it up already!), play it and crank it loud!
8 / 10