White Stones - Kuarahy review


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Band: White Stones
Album: Kuarahy
Release date: March 2020

01. Kuarahy
02. Rusty Shell
03. Worms
04. Drowned In Time
05. The One
06. Guyra
07. Ashes
08. Infected Soul
09. Taste Of Blood
10. Jasy

Do you wish Opeth would go back to those good ol' death metal days? How about an actual death-metal side-project? No, not Bloodbath. Another one.

Formed by Opeth's bassist Martín Méndez (not the same Uruguayan ex-Opeth member that formed Soen and whose name is also Martin, that would be Martin Lopez) and completed with some Vidres A La Sang members, White Stones is likely the closest we're gonna get to another Opeth album that's closer to the death metal sound. Mikael Åkerfeldt is not involved in this one at all, but there's also some guitars from fellow Opeth member, Fredrik Åkesson, as well as Katatonia/Bloodbath guitarist Per Eriksson. It was also mixed and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano, who has some remastering credit on Opeth's Deliverance & Damnation. So you get the idea. Opeth.

And this should ideally be fine and dandy, you have a lot of people involved that are actually part of the real deal and should have some experience with the Opeth sound, as well as some aching to do something other than the prog stuff they do nowadays. A huge deal of Opeth's fanbase would probably be willing to eat up everything Opeth related that has growls. It should work, but it feels constantly underwhelming. After further listens I think there are three main reasons: the most important one is that it sounds too close to Opeth for its own good, meaning that it doesn't really get its own identity other than sounding like the heavier parts of Still Life or Deliverence (both albums that Mendez performed on), but lacking a lot of what made them great the first time around, so with pretty much the same songwriting and performance skills, but with a prog death metal sound that would move further away from Opeth, it wouldn't immediately force an inescapable comparison. The second and third reason is that the performances, especially the vocals, aren't really on par; and that the production makes everything lack even more of a punch.

There is definitely a lot of progressive songwriting here, and not only that, but good progressive songwriting. Which makes it even more maddening. Listening to a good album that I can't appreciate can sometimes be worse than listening to a genuinely bad album. For sticking so close to its originary sound, they don't also inherit the knack for long songs and a lot of the elegant feeling of the music. No song is longer than six minutes, but Kuarahy makes pretty decent use of each song's runtime. The riffs are groovy, their structure flows really well, the vocals sound rotten, even if the sound still forces me to compare them to the obviously superior Åkerfeldtian ones. But the parts I actually enjoyed the most were the opener and closer, because those felt like the most sincere of the bunch. And maybe this whole album is sincere, with Mendez supposedly naming it after his place of birth. The bulk of it doesn't feel as sincere to me, but Mendez has been involved in the making of that sound for more than two decades, he should have every right to perform it without me questioning his authenticity.

But it is what it is, it's the uncanny valley where it's too close to Opeth to feel distinct, but not close enough to feel like the real deal. As much as they have going for them, the shadow of Mikael Åkerfeldt still looms large over White Stones


Written on 10.05.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.

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