There's a new death metal band formed by a member of Opeth and, no, it isn't from Mikael Åkerfeldt. It's bassist Martín Mendéz who has started up White Stones, an evolution of what began as a solo project, and they'll be releasing their debut album, Kuarahy, in 2020.

For Mendéz, White Stones is a return to his roots, both musically and personally, as the groove-oriented death metal band was named after his birthplace in Uruguay.

"I feel strongly connected to Uruguay still," commented the bassist. "I wanted to write music related to that — the sun on the Uruguayan flag I transformed into the White Stones logo; there are a lot of small things that connect the record to that place. 'Kuarahy' is the native Uruguayan people’s word for ‘Sun.'"

Speaking about his ambitions with White Stones, Mendéz offered, "I’ve always written music at home but never had the confidence to do anything like this. I never wrote a song, never presented something I wrote for Mikael (Åkerfeldt). I didn’t have any direction, I came up with the first song for fun. I used to sing death metal 25 years ago, and the plan was for me to sing, as I’d written it all, but when it came to it, I didn’t feel comfortable at all!”

"I really had one thing in mind —to be groovy" he said in reference to the style of death metal fans can expect. "You have to groove, no matter what style of music you play."

Kuarahy appears to be sticking to gritty, old school production values as well as Mendéz explained, "I recorded with a Fender Stratocaster with just a tiny bit of distortion- that’s rare for death metal, and then made the bass really distorted and fat to bring heaviness to the music."

Joining him on the recording is vocalist Eloi Boucherie (Vidres A La Sang) and drummer Jordi Farré (Cruciamentum, Vidres A La Sang). Opeth guitarist Frederik Akesson played lead guitar on every song except "The One," which features a solo from Per Eriksson (ex-Katatonia, ex-Bloodbath).

Fans shouldn't read too far into the bassist's election to start a death metal band as Opeth notably abandoned the aggressive, more extreme elements of their sound starting in 2011 with the release of Heritage. "I am 100 percent comfortable with what we’re doing with Opeth," Mendéz reassured his fans.

"It’s the best thing we could have done; I don’t think we’d be around today if we had done another death metal record," he further reflected.

Speaking about the differences between the two bands and his appreciation for what each group offers, he added, "I love the challenges Opeth presents, we experiment a lot in the studio. When it comes to me writing death metal for White Stones, it’s the style of metal I like the most. I’ve loved Morbid Angel since I was a kid- death metal is inside me. White Stones is nothing to do with Opeth, I see no relation between the two. I played Kuarahy to Mikael a few months ago, he really liked it and was happy for me. Everyone in the band has side projects, it’s important. We tour so much you can become consumed by it; it has been really nice to do something different. White Stones has renewed my strength and energy."

Kuarahy will be released on March 20 on Nuclear Blast. View the album art and track listing below and look for new music to come soon.

White Stones, Kuarahy Album Art + Track Listing

Nuclear Blast

01. "Kuarahy" (1:24)
02. "Rusty Shell" (4:25)
03. "Worms" (3:57)
04. "Drowned In Time" (5:17)
05. "The One" (4:34)
06. "Guyra" (4:45)
07. "Ashes" (4:04)
08. "Infected Soul" (5:59)
09. "Taste Of Blood" (4:10)
10. "Jasy" (2:48)

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