WHITE STONES - Kuarahy (Album Review)


White Stones is the brainchild of Opeth bassist Martin Mendez which features fellow bandmate Frederik Akesson playing most of the guitar solos here apart from one track where Per Eriksson (Katatonia and Bloodbath) fills in. The album has the title Kuaraly which translates from a native word in Uruguay (his birthplace) for “Sun”. The album is definitely in the death metal genre but yet it also features touches of his own cultural background and progressive rock or metal. If the words “death metal” scare you, be assured most of the 10 tracks have shed loads of groove in them and the flourishes of prog and even jazz (especially in the drumming at points) add plenty to the mix and might soften the blow of the grunting vocal style (something I know some folks do not like).

2 of the 10 tracks are short musical pieces that form the intro and outro of the album. Opener, the title track “Kuaraly” sounds quite optimistic and captivating and closer “Jasy” is more haunting and atmospheric. “Worms” and “The One” feature lovely grooves and riffs and like most tracks are underpinned excellently by the drumming of Jordi Farre who shows lots of dexterity whether he is playing fast rolls or adding colour to things with touches of cymbals and percussion. The latter has a moment where there are guitar sweeps that sound like planes quickly flying by overhead, along with clever changes of pace/style before the guitar solo. The way that the band can switch between those death metal grooves and progressive moods is highlighted particularly in “Ashes” where there is a melody that appears at points (a real head-nodder) between the heavy incessant riff of the verses but adds little twists and turns to keep it interesting and challenging for the listener. The guitar for me sounds like it is crying at the start of the solo which is unusual but effective.

White Stones: The Band

White Stones: The Band

Talking of challenging “Guyra” is the least immediate track on the album, sounding ominous and has the drums almost as the lead instrument with guitar and bass working around them. There are moments of spoken word rather than singing with guitar bubbling away underneath adding to the overall vibe. There is a change of pace halfway through when the track becomes more “in your face” which I liked.

Possibly my favourite song is “Infected Soul” which does have an Opeth feel to it but is no carbon copy or outtake from there. This stands very nicely on its own merits. The way Jordi works his way round his cymbals (there is also a sound like a tolling bell) whilst the guitar plays a melody only to suddenly stop for some vicious tribal style drumming for the refrain or melody to come back in from whence the song builds up. The bass work (which is terrific throughout) is very prominent especially alongside the guitar solo. As a writer and arranger (and no doubt he is aided and abetted by the rest of the band) Martin shows a real skill and talent for finding and adding little riffs and melodies to the body of a song that surprise and delight.

This is a fine debut from a man that has much to offer musically in the metal world. I have found myself regularly returning to the album due to how it has grabbed my soul. Very highly recommended.

Album out NOW on Nuclear Blast Records!

BUY: AMAZON.ca / AMAZON.com / AMAZON.co.uk


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