White Stones
Kuarahy

Have you ever had an itch you just can’t explain? Worse yet, one you can’t seem to reach? For a lot of people, this is somewhere on the back. You know that place below the neck and between the shoulders. Inventors have made millions (I assume) from this. For me, unfortunately, the itch is on my ass. Or in it. If that’s too much information, I’m not sorry. We’ve all been there, but more on that later.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself right now what exactly this has to do with White Stones. Everything. White Stones is the solo project formed by Opeth bassist Martin Lopez. Martin wrote the music, recorded the guitars and bass, enlisted Cruciamentum drummer Jordi Farré, and vocalist Eloi Boucherie of Vidres A La Sang. He also had a little help with the guitar solos from his friend Frederik Akesson from Opeth on all tracks, except for “The One,” which is courtesy of Katatonia and Bloodbath’s Per Eriksson.

With a lineup listed like the one above, I had very high expectations. The album begins with a brief intro, then goes right into the first track “Rusty Shell.” The sound is very reminiscent of that one band with whom Martin Mendez plays who used to perform progressive death metal yet changed direction to go into progressive rock. Their name escapes me. When Eloi’s roar starts a little over 30 seconds into this track, tell me it doesn’t remind you of Mikael Akerfeldt and I’ll fight you. However, he is far from a clone, and has his own vocal style, which fits the music perfectly. On the instrumental side, I was reading that Martin recorded the guitars using a Fender Strat with very little distortion but recorded his bass to be fuller and fatter. Mission accomplished. The bass has a thundering rumble, which is present throughout the duration.

Right after “Rusty Shell” comes “Worms,” which is a groovy monster. In fact, this could describe the entirety of the album. Every single track should get your head moving. There are quite a few standouts, so I wanted to mention just a couple. “Guyra,” which is track 6, starts out with a relatively clean intro, but doesn’t take long before bringing the death metal. About 2 minutes into the track, you can really hear that Fender Strat. This track is constantly moving and evolving all the way up to the excellent solo at the end. Standout “Infected Soul,” clocking in at a little over 6 minutes, contains the trademark groove of the rest of the album up to this point while also containing some outstanding lead work, which has a Latin vibe to it, but definitely keeps with the overall vibe of the track.

It’s worth mentioning at this point some differences between expectations and reality. There are no 10-minute epics here and the album is just over 40 minutes altogether. So, while there are reference points to Martin’s earlier work with Opeth, to call this a clone would be a disservice to what has been created. That would be an insult to every artist’s involvement.

With that said, back to the whole ass itch thing. In this poorly conceived metaphor, Opeth was the itch. While their new (if it can even be called such at this point) direction doesn’t really do a lot for me, I respect artists doing what they desire. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to scratch that itch for the vibe from their earlier material. I read so many reviews where bands were being compared to them and it just never stuck. Who knew that all these years later, the bass player still in the band would be the one to finally do it? This album is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. If I’m so glad I finally got rid of that itchy ass. Oh, and found a fantastic death metal record, too. Very highly recommended!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
March 23rd, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    “The One” is groovy. Like the Opeth meets Tribulation haze here. Good write up.


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