White Stones
Kuarahy


3.5
great

Review

by TheNotrap CONTRIBUTOR (57 Reviews)
April 1st, 2020 | 24 replies


Release Date: 03/13/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The shadow within

Everything around Mikael Åkerfeldt triggers curiosity, especially when dealing with the debut album of longtime Opeth bassist Martin Méndez. That interest arouses even more when it comes labelled as progressive death metal. These last two words associated with Mikael & Co tend to polarize, being subject of broad debate by fans and critics. I would say Kuarahy will keep polarizing opinions, but for different reasons. The formula Martin developed preserves Opeth's spirit of the past decade, however adding the death growls that many fans have been asking for so long. This symbiosis, although cunning, has as its main handicap the lack of originality of someone who should take this opportunity to distance himself more from his main project. Maybe I'm being unfair, because the album does have good songs, deserving to be appreciated with due attention, however, this observation seems to me to be central to the album's analysis. Did Martin Méndez deliver a creative personal manifesto or did he take the easy way out by dumping what people would want to hear? As a listener, I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. As much as he says he intended to distance himself from Opeth, the outcome contradicts his claim. The glamorous smooth approach, reminiscent of Mikael's more recent era, with pre-Heritage gutturals, leads to a formula that will inevitably bond White Stones to Martin's main musical project. And going back to my earlier question, this closeness could indeed be purposeful.

As we move beyond this more central stylistic and creative analysis, we'll have to look at the songs without prejudice, focusing only on what they can offer, whether good or bad. And this is where Kuarahy shines. Its classy feel, with the smooth distortion that only a Fender Stratocaster is able to create, is manifestly seductive. As if we're listening to music out of silk and velvet. Mid-paced songs like 'Rusty Shell' or 'Worms' set the tone for an album that orbits simple ideas. Riffs or bass lines are explored minimalistically, creating structural axes that support the music. 'Worms' or 'The One' mirror this simplicity of processes well, while songs like 'Guyra' and 'Ashes' dive into greater contrasts. Of these ten songs, Opeth-esque 'Taste of Blood' and 'Drowned in Time' are among the ones that grabbed me the most, being the folk harmony of the latter probably my favorite moment on the album. Instrumentally, as one would expect from a musician with Martin's reputation, the album is flawless. Drummer Jordi Farré and vocalist Eloi Boucherie (both members of the Spanish black metal band Vidres a la Sang) do their job very effectively, giving form to Martin's musical idea. The interesting guitar solos by the well-known Fredrik Åkesson and Per Eriksson are also worth mentioning, as they add an adequate and coherent melodic layer.

I'd like to end with the cliché "this is the album pre-Heritage fans were waiting for" or "Mikael Åkerfeldt should draw lessons from Kuarahy ", but that's not how I feel. By naming the album after his birthplace in Uruguay, Martin Méndez intended to explore his personal and musical roots, however I question whether he has fully achieved this goal. If on one hand it's natural for his music to keep contact points with Opeth, on the other hand he hasn't managed to create the distance needed to substantiate artistic independence. But once again I will return to the same reasoning, what if this proximity is premeditated? What if Kuarahy is nothing more than Martin's vision of what people yearn to hear? It's a debatable path, I know, but he's entitled to command his destiny from a comfort zone. It's a choice we must respect. And as long as he's making music of this kind, I'll be here to listen, even with Mikael Åkerfeldt lurking behind my back.



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user ratings (26)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enjoyable debut, even with Mikael Åkerfeldt's shadow sneaking around.



Worms (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx_vCsCII1g



Drowned In Time (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOaUxtHDnb4



The album is available on Spotify.

Digging: Lor - Edge of Eternity

DDDeftoneDDD
April 1st 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Super happy you wrote a review for this. I really like this album. Its very smooth, simple yet hugely fun and enjoyable. Aesthetically cool, with a latent evilness and a great pace work. Congrats!

Digging: Cirith Ungol - Forever Black

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers D. If I remember correctly, it was you who recommended me this album ;) I hope you like the review too.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 1st 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yap, the rev is def an open debate. I personally think the Opeth's riffs are obviously there, yet the album vibes completely different from both, Opeth's nowadays and metal Opeth. You can call it an aesthetics mask only but I feel it as one tight little swede jam from Opeth's bassist (although not Swede lol) with a mix of groovy fun+evil vibe.

For me The One is among my faves, I just love pace there.

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It is debatable as you say, however personally I haven't been able to distance the album from Mikael. It's not a copy paste for sure, but the vibe is there. 'Taste of Blood' is probably the Opeth-esque track.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 1st 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Well, its from Opeth's bassist right? I was expecting some Opeth riffing, I was kinda surprised with some sort of devilish vibe when the dude growls and not exactly Mikael's DM kinda growl, quite distant in fact.



Was just checking the band appears to be based in Barcelona lol

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, they're Spanish. I heard a couple of tracks from the latest album 'Set de sang' and I liked it. Catchy BM.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 1st 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

almost lost me there friend! But I got there eheh - Vidres a la Sang- Set de sang, added, I ll try to check!

Mythodea
April 1st 2020


4701 Comments


Nice review, just want to point out the ''I might be being unfair'' sentence. Is it correct? Doesn't sound right, somehow. Anyway.

Album is decent, Opeth vibes and whatnot, you've all said it before me. If the project is something for Mendez to explore his roots and distance himself from Opeth, I expect differentiation to come with time, as usually happens with many bands that are associated with a sound (e.g. Rishloo to Tool, Soen to Opeth, etc.)

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're probably right, I've edited that sentence. Thanks for the grammar alert ;)

ResidentNihilist
April 1st 2020


1478 Comments


Good review theyestrap, is this really like the Opeth album everyone's been waiting for? Also album cover makes it look like it's from the 60s.

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks ResidentNihilist. It's debatable, but I don't think so. However, that's Martín's hidden goal, in my opinion.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 1st 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I don t see it as such a compromising jam tbh

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
April 2nd 2020


19628 Comments


I guess I don't have to write it up anymore DD ;)

Need to check this. Great rev Notrap!

Digging: Cressida - Cressida

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 2nd 2020


13927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Muchas gracias, señor.

It's a classy jam, I think you'll like it.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 2nd 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I found this largely flat throughout - the ex-Opeth-ian hype really didn't help either.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 2nd 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

ahah Yeah Dew. I mean I recd Notrap as well but wasn't expecting for him to review it, turns out the dude is a rev machine!! ahahah I saw this tune more Dew approachable, but I'm happy Notrap dug it m/



I got this rec from tectactoe, so all credits due, its great to see Sputnik moving.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 2nd 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

C'mon Nocte, Its great how this manages to be kinda evil and heavy without even the use of distorted metal stack, its played in plain overdrive and delivers a kind of unique aesthetics/vibe.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 2nd 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Do you mean C'mon Nocte?



Regardless, I'm not liking it like I should and especially with my BwP, Watershed worship I should be very liking it like I should.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 2nd 2020


12071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Do you mean C'mon Nocte?"

lmao...right...corrected my pleb (common) Nocte!



Anyway, to put this side to side with Opeth's metal work feels just wrong, this has def a joyful jam side...I felt it very uncompromising in a good way, though.







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