White Stones is the solo debut solo for Opeth bassist Martin Mendez. Given his 23-year tenure with Opeth, it’s obvious that their fan base is the immediate target audience. Despite the obvious purpose of a solo project to distance itself from the parent band, many Opeth fans are going to hear parallels between the two, and draw comparisons.
In terms of its tone and atmosphere, the presence of Opeth’s heavier work is clearly established as a primary influence, intentional or not. In many ways, Mendez’s debut release will resonate with the group of Opeth’s fans that have felt dejected since their crushing death metal was replaced with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s fascination with bombastic and erratic prog. You won’t find a song on Kuarahy longer than five-and-a-half minutes, which is barely half the length of your average Opeth track. Anyone who misses the crushing heavy riffs of Opeth’s golden age are going to find that White Stones have a lot to offer them.
The whole project has been marketed as death metal, but that’s misleading. The tempo of the album is far slower than your typical death metal; the riffs don’t come close to meeting the speed of what you typically associate with the genre. It’s far more methodical, knowledgeable and groovy. From both the writing and production stages, there is a very clear understanding of what the album intended to sound like, and there isn’t a single instance where it strays from that. For his first solo project, Martin Mendez comes off as a competent composer graduating from Blackwater Park University, majoring in the school of Opeth’s prog-death. (Nuclear Blast)