WHITE STONES – Memoria Viva (Album Review)

WHITE STONES - Memoria Viva (Album Review)
White Stones: Memoria Viva: Album OUT June 28 On Reigning Phoenix Music

Memoria Viva is the third album by the band White Stones. The band who feature ex-Opeth bassist Martín Méndez along with singer Eloi Boucherie and Joan Carles Marí Tur on drums and Joakim Svalberg on keyboards have created an album that is very different from what has come before. Now of course having come from Opeth it is easy to draw comparisons but in all honesty, this has some influences that are quite fresh and new for this scene. Yes, there is a lot of this album (even sonically) that could be from the experimental prog of the 70s, but with added flavours. Apart from the growled vocals, this album would fit in with the greats of the 70s. Yes, it is that good! The other thing that sets it apart from not only their releases but many others is that the whole album is sung in Spanish.

The nine tracks float between so many styles yet seem very cohesive. No matter where they go as a listener it is fun to follow. The title track starts things off all eerie and doom-laden. Sound effects, synth (I think) into the bass, slow and with a tolling bell joining in before the tune fully breaks in for a short while until it drops and a beating heart can be heard. All very atmospheric. “Humanoides” has an almost samba vibe about it musically as it starts with whispered spoken words. This of course changes into a heavy prog riff that has a fair amount of groove and plenty of drum fills. The main riff is driving but counterbalanced by some guitar melodies. This is dark and menacing with one riff that has a hint of “Hall Of The Mountain King” by Grieg. Only for a few seconds though. There is some lovely bass work on this as well. At nearly seven minutes this chops and changes with themes moving in and out, they go and they come back around seamlessly. “D-Generacion” is one of the simpler tracks, a driving piece of rock with a very sweet melody line sweeping in at points. It does dive more into death metal at one point but that nice melody keeps coming in stopping it sounding too samey. “Zamba de Orun” is quite brilliant. Shimmering acoustic guitar, moments of piano, and some beautiful flute playing from José Ignacio Lago, this is basically jazz fusion. The drumming is varied and sensitive to the piece with lots of gentle fills. The instrumental is like nothing the band have done before and the album is all the better for it.

White Stones: Mean & Moody! Photo By Sandra Artigas
White Stones: Mean & Moody! Photo By Sandra Artigas

La Ira” translates as “Anger” and opens with what appears to be clapping into a very dark riff with I think keys adding an ominous vibe. The song (like many of the tracks) moves around with some interesting riffage, some fun organ and on this occasion some crazy soloing (from João Sassetti who is responsible for the solos) and laughter before the end. There is a video to this which you can check for yourself below! “Somos” (“are” in English) is an acoustic guitar piece helped along with some keyboard noodling. It feels like a short interlude! “Grito Al Silencio” or “I Shout To Silence” starts gently but about a minute in a mean and moody riff kicks in. This is possibly the most obvious track to the previous band mentioned earlier. Like them, this song has sections of intensity, growls, and fast riffs interspersed with moments of mellow contemplation. Being a longer piece at seven minutes there is time for a number of changes and the longest guitar solo on the album.

Vencedores Vencidos” or “Defeated Conquerors” is heavy yet there are elements of jazz in there, possibly due to the guitar work. It is a steady movement piece at times and again it has a Spanish flamenco feel to it despite it being quite heavy. The solo sounds quite sad at the start, like weeping, but it lifts as it goes. Quite beguiling. They close with a piece that is very classical in sound. “Yemaya“, which I couldn’t find a translation for is gentle and lilting and once again involves some flute playing before heading into the sounds of waves gently crashing against stones (white stones anyone?).

This is a fabulous album. As I have said before this sounds different to everything else from the band, taking them further away from the “Opeth comparisons” as they forge their own unique sound. This takes from 70s prog massively, but they have added some of their Spanish culture to it all to keep it fresh and new. The vocals are harsh and in Spanish which is the thing that shows this is from this era. For anyone who loves prog and can handle harsh vocals (I know some people cannot deal with them) this is a must-buy album. Stick the headphones on and enjoy all the little touches of drums, effects, keys etc that add flavour and texture to the piece. Stunning stuff all around.

Link To Purchase Album HERE

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