White Stones


Written by: RUB on 11/11/2020 12:37:53

Have you ever wondered how Opeth would sound like in 2020? Obviously not the contemporary progressive rock incarnation of the band, but the old Opeth — the torchbearers that enriched us with one brilliant album after the other of harrowing progressive death metal that even today serves as the reference point for how well those two genres can be mixed together. At least one member of the current Opeth line-up thought this could be an interesting idea to dwell upon; bassist Martín Méndez decided to join forces with drummer Jordi Farré and vocalist Eloi Boucherie to launch a new project christened White Stones. And after numerous listens, I have discovered several resemblances between the bleakness of the ‘90s and early ‘00s Opeth, and the sound that Whites Stones have crafted for their début album “Kuarahy”.

After a short eponymous intro, “Rusty Shell” delivers a progressive and groovy piece that immediately recalls that bleak nature of older Opeth material. The vocals are harsh and growled of course, but still for the most part easy to decipher. The track is nothing completely out of the ordinary, but it is nonetheless easy to see where the inspiration stems from — and the same goes for “Worms”, which, after a lengthier, proggy intro, transcends into a mysterious, slow and ominous track with so much much going on. The way the guitar sort of taunts you throughout the majority of the track, sounding like it is building up to some big climax like a massive chorus, or even a menacing breakdown has me teetering on my toes but it never actually arrives. And in fact, this technique sums up White Stones pretty well, and I’ll elaborate on why: the way the group incorporates progressive elements into their songs makes the listener year for more and wonder what is in store next. It creates this ever-present suspense by virtue of a dreary tone, like the soundtrack to some nightmarish horror movie. This darkness and suspense nonetheless renders the listening experience very interesting and serves as a testimony to the extent these three musicians already seem to be intertwined into a single unit. You feel as though the music tries to sneak up on you and if you manage to immerse yourself into the soundscape completely, you might have to look over your shoulder from time to time in fear of some malevolent creature lurking behind you.

Still — there is even some upbeat… heck, you might even call them brighter elements that Whites Stones have fused into their songs. Small jazz-like sections present themselves already on the aforementioned tracks, which only adds to the large variety on offer on the album. So whether it is the progressive build-up in “Ashes”, the jam-like passages in “Infected Soul”, or just a very quirky riff in “Taste of Blood”, “Kuarahy” manages to remain varied and fresh throughout its duration. What the band brings to the table is a sublime ability to tie all of these different elements together with the grim (and their sound really is grim) soundscape at the root of the album. It makes the different ends of the musical spectrum come together in such a way that the fusion actually ends up sounding pretty mysterious and, dare I say, bizarre. The groove and progressive song structures that Opeth currently utilizes has thus actually made its way into the sound of White Stones as well, so this new outfit is not just looking toward older Opeth material for inspiration.

The slow-paced “The One” brings even more groove and features a dark jazz-like main-riff. I won’t go all the way and call this something as extravagant as fusion jazz as “Kuarahy” still without a doubt a death metal release, but these kinds of grooves could nonetheless be found in that particular end of the musical spectrum, I’m sure. What this does is not only to make the listener pay more attention (because sometimes you might downright think, “what the actual f**k, did I just listen to?”), just as it also makes this début album stand out amongst the throngs of mediocre death metal releases.

Is this just a copy of classic Opeth, then? Well, if you mean combining the ‘90s incarnation of Opeth with the current one, you definitely have a very clear idea of how White Stones sound. And as such, White Stones have not, in many ways, found their own sound just yet. Their music is original to the extent that it sounds fresh, yet one simply cannot help but think “Opeth, Opeth… Opeth…” all the way through. But even though that is the case, the fact that we’re not dealing with anything particularly groundbreaking does not halt me from admiring how fresh “Kuarahy” actually sounds. It might be because Opeth themselves haven’t released an actual death metal in a long time, and that this record was exactly what I was craving. Or it could simply also be because the album emerges as a rock solid début. Whatever the reason, if you have even the smallest taste for ‘90s era Opeth and grooves in general, be sure to check this one out if you haven’t already, as I’m sure you’ll find on it at the very least a couple of tracks that push the right buttons for you.


Download: Rusty Shell, Worms, Drowned in Time, The One, Ashes, Taste of Blood
For the fans of: Cynic, Edge of Sanity, Ne Obliviscaris, Opeth
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.03.2020
Nuclear Blast

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