Progressive death metal outfit White Stones featuring Opeth’s Martin Mendez have released their sophomore effort, Dancing In Oblivion, late last month via Nuclear Blast Records. We caught up with Mendez to discuss the album, which was created while in lockdown.
How has the pandemic affected the writing process for Dancing Into Oblivion?
Well, if the pandemic didn’t happen this album would never have been written. I was at the beginning of the Opeth tour for our latest album “In Cauda Venenum” when everything started going to shit. Once I was at home and the lockdown started, for some reason I got inspired and I really took advantage of this time off. Taking advantage of the time off as well as the emotions I got from that period, adding those feelings into the sounds. That helped me to keep my mind busy and sane. So for me, it was nice having all this time to concentrate on the writing.
What were some challenges you went through to get this album together during these challenging times?
Well, the only thing we couldn’t get as we wanted was to have our lead guitar player Joao in the studio. He’s living in Portugal and couldn’t fly when we were recording this album. So he recorded all the guitar solos there and did send them over. Other then that we didn’t have any more problems.
How would you compare the new album to Kuarahy?
This new album is a bit more technical compared to the previous one. The manner of songwriting was a bit different as well compared to Kuarahy and in doing so it gave me a good learning experience which, I feel, improved my composing and recording skills. So overall I think Dancing into Oblivion is on a somewhat higher level than Kuarahy.
What was the experience like making the video for “Chain of Command?”
We had two days of filming. The first day with the band and the second day with the dancer. The video was recorded and edited by our good friend Gabi from @visualnoisebarcelona. We came up with a script for the video and then we scouted the location, an old abandoned factory, which I thought would be a great environment. Overall I think it was an easy and fantastic experience making this video.
Can you talk more about the song “New Age of Dark?”
It is the heaviest song on the album. I really like the sound of the guitars and the bass in the main riff. Is chunky and aggressive. I got influenced by bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide for this song. As well as some black metal influences for the middle parts. I wanted to have that chaotic type of feeling on it, which I really like.
What are some things you’ve learned over the last eighteen or so months?
Well, firstly I’ve been very busy making this album and by gaining that experience I feel I’ve improved a bit in terms of learning about composing, recording, and handling visuals during this period. But besides work, it has been a very tough period in our life from which I learned to have a bit more patience and hope for the future. It was frustrating, especially at the beginning when you lose control over pretty much everything around you. Not even seeing the light on when we will start working again as ‘normal’. But it is what it is and one needs to learn to live with it in the best way possible.
Is there anything else you want to say or add about the new album?
It’s a dark album but I feel it has positive energy to it. I just hope some people give it a shot and listen to it. And then hopefully they’ll like it, of course!