White Stones – “Kuarahy” (Nuclear Blast)
Battle Helm Rating
Named after the native Uruguayan people’s word for ‘sun’ as depicted on their national flag and formed by Martin Mendez, bassist of Opeth during their year long break following the “Sorceress” tour, White Stones is a solo project that brings him full circle both as a musician and a man! Composed by Mendez, who naturally plays bass but also the guitars and featuring guest solos by Opeth’s Frederik Akesson and Per Eriksson (Katatonia, Bloodbath), the core sound is death metal, which Mendez used to sing 25 years ago, although the material here is far richer than standard cookie monster dough. Although a long term native of Stockholm, Mendez’s roots are in his native Uruguay and the decision to recently relocate his family to Barcelona is no mere coincidence, being something of a cultural bridge between European and Latin cultures. Reflecting this further inspiration, White Stones has plenty – in fact tons – of groove to its 10 tracks, all being a fusion of beauty and brutality brought to life through the distortion tinged guitars casting exotic spells and phat distorted bass adding plenty of rhythmic djent fluctuations. Completed by Akesson loading in the prog, White Stones have already made their mark, with the initial recording line up now being expanded to play live, and their first shows already scheduled for this year. Opening in serenely if somewhat melancholically on ‘Drowned In Time’, the huge bass kicks in to bring forth its catchy, rhythmic menace made all the more oppressive through Eloi Boucherie’s (Vidres A La Sang) primordial growls and roars, all of which are nicely offset by some captivating folk melodies that whisks the song into your heart and mind effortlessly through its sophisticated fusion of mysticism and technicality. Indeed, it couldn’t be clearer on ‘The One’ with its simple but utterly possessive main melody backed by pistoning double bass drums, more shimmering prog splendor and the wailing lead bliss of Akesson atop which like a lofty beast commanding his throne, Boucherie roars his barking brutality. Speeding up with the drums and fluid guitars on ‘Ashes’, the grooves are immense, rolling and cascading massively while impressively matched by Boucherie, who even adds the odd sadistic cackle as Akesson goes mental, unleashing that side of himself through his own wild guitar work. It’s awesome, and easy to see that why although starting as a side project, White Stones has morphed into something more for Mendez and the world too…..