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Levi / Werstler - "Avalanche of Worms" (CD)

Levi / Werstler - "Avalanche of Worms" CD cover image

"Avalanche of Worms" track listing:

1. Noxious Vermin, My Friend (3:41)
2. Dura Mater (4:08)
3. Obsidian Fissure (3:51)
4. Plague House (4:12 )
5. In Amethyst, Through Moldavite (4:09)
6. Trellis Of Thorns (1:16)
7. Hollow Thorax Of The Gilded Eye (1:57)
8. Loathsome Little Fiend (4:51)
9. Trepanation & Bliss (0:47)
10. Architectural Necrosis (5:20)
11. Casting The Molten Sea (5:52)
12. Chrysalis Wound (1:09)

Reviewed by on June 3, 2010

"Almost like having a jazz singer scoo-diddy-be-wop themselves over Slayer. Something just never clicks."

I consider myself a big shred and technical metal fan - Batio, Malmsteen, Becker, Lane, Jarzombek and so many more. So when an instrumental guitar album lands on my door with none other than Sean Reinert as the group's engine, it's normally cause to celebrate. As particularly alert fans might recognize, the Levi / Werstler name comes guitar duo Eyal Levi (Daath) and Emil Werstler (Chimaira/Unearth/Daath) who provide the pyrotechnics on their first collaboration under this title in “Avalanche of Worms.” Enough names? Lets get onto the music then!

At the end of this listening to this album one comes to ask what was the entity that I've just listened to? Where does it sit in the spectrum of aural pleasures I know? It would seem that "Avalanche of Worms" is neither here nor there in the shred-metal-verse. It's almost a shred guitar album, but one which is schizophrenically split between industrial metal and ambient music at the same time. Is it any good? Well it sure is proficient, there is no doubt about that. When guitarists put out an instrumental guitar there's very little chance of it lacking fireworks. Most of the dazzling speed based licks are rooted in neoclassical shred, with interspersing sections of jazz adding the experimental feel of the album.

The issue with the strangely titled "Avalanche of Worms," however, is that no matter how technical your arpeggios and 16th note articulations are at high speed, without interesting songs the effort will be for very little (see Yngwie Malmsteen's flops for reference). The standout element Levi / Werstler have gone for is a collage of soundscapes tied together with heavy industrial riffs, but it all serves as a very awkward background for guitar music, almost like having a jazz singer scoo-diddy-be-wop themselves over Slayer. Something just never clicks.

Likewise, there are glimpses of very interesting songs trying to push through from the other side. "Obsidian Fissure" is a good example with several great progressive and ambient sections (with a big nod to guitar hero Jason Becker at the end). Unfortunately the reverse applies, the mechanical and industrial guitar lines seem out of place in the fray and when they collide with the "creepy/ambient" keyboards, the avalanche of worms to turn to a big noisy mush.

The other piece of this puzzle is Sean Reinert, a drummer needing little introduction to fans of Death and Cynic. Again, there's little need to pull into question technical proficiency. However as in C-187 or Aghora, he's little more than hired muscle for the project and plays second fiddle to the guitar dueling. Unlike in Cynic or Death, his ludicrously talented brain seems to have been put to a task rather than full artistic use.

In all, there are some nice progressive songs and great shredding on here, but yet all somehow buried beneath indirection and artistic noise.

Highs: Some clever progressive sections of music.

Lows: Incohesive and noisy mix of elements fighting for dominance.

Bottom line: Fans of Daath may find something to enjoy, but this lot of worms falls far short of the guitar heroes they are emulating.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)