Album Review: Levi/Werstler ‘Avalance of Worms’

Let me start this off by saying that I’m a big fan of Daath. ‘The Concealers’ was a contender for one of my favorite albums of 2009. So to say that I was excited when I heard that guitarists Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler were going to put out an instrumental album in the same style of music is an understatement. Add to that the fact that Sean Reinert of Cynic/Ex-Death was announced as the drummer and I was sold. I love a good instrumental record and this sounded like something fresh and exciting that I would love once I got my grubby hands all over it. 

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The first thing that I noticed listening to ‘Avalanche of Worms’ is that the technical prowess of each musician is not lost in any way. The structure and compositions of Eyal Levi are very solid and some of the riffs are crushing. The influence of classical music and classical theory is not lost at all. The shredding of Emil Werstler is technical wizardry. There really isn’t any other way to describe it. The man is truly amazing at the guitar and his jumps from minor to chromatic to harmonic minor scales is at some times mind-boggling. The drumming of Sean Reinert plays to the exact needs of the piece. 
The first track, ‘Noxious Vermin, My Friend’, is a perfect introduction to the entirety of the album: There are fast drums, thick rhythm riffs and fluid, blazing solos. The production is just the slightest bit raw, giving a ‘gritty’ sound to the song. This track is a perfect argument for those who contend that metal is the new form of classical: There are key changes, tempo changes, polyrhythms, etc… It truly is an impressive display of the abilities of each musician. 
Up until now, I’ve been lauding this album for the technical abilities of the performers. However, when it comes to the actual content of the album, well, that’s a bit of a different story. As amazing as theses musicians are, the songs themselves are somewhat forgettable once the next track comes on. This album makes great background music but that isn’t what I wanted or expected. ‘The Concealers’ was in your face and tracks like ‘Wilting On The Vine’ still gets me pumped. There wasn’t any track on ‘Avalanche of Worms’ that gave me that same feeling. Rather, I found that this album worked the best for me as background music. It’s perfect when driving, when friends are over, when cooking, etc… but it’s not really something that I would sit down and immerse myself into. 
As a testament to the skills of the musicians, this album is perfect. By the end of the album, you WILL respect these musicians: It’s unavoidable. But as an album to sit back and listen to, there isn’t enough of a connection between the music and the listener to truly be satisfied with the end result. My hope is that should there be a sophomore release, Levi and Werstler will be able to bring the listener along for the ride instead of keeping them at arm’s length. 
3 out of 5 skulls