Avalanche of Worms, Levi/Werstler's first release on Magna Carta Records, delivers a commanding sonic statement from the the partnership of Daath's Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler. Both accomplished guitarists, their interplay allows Levi's compositional style and Werstler' virtuosic guitar abilities to compliment each other fully; this unique alchemy prevents this album from being classified under any one genre."We work in metal but the vibe of this is just coming from somewhere else," Werstler says. "It's hard to put your finger on what it is."
The album is similar in composition to visual art; it is meant to be sonically digested in its entirety, not as a collection of individual pieces. Individual influences do not stand out in the album's formulation; Levi delivers an exceptionally refreshing approach. "This is a dense, epic, and psychedelic stream; a journey through our musical intent with individual sections comprised of smaller details. While contributing the bulk of my writing towards this record, I was dealing with feelings of intense loss and conflicted shortcomings on all fronts. This music is not referring to any of these extraordinary events in particular; It's just my musical interpretation and expression of the feelings which came as a result. It is best heard when you have 41 minutes straight to devote."
Innovative guitar solos and strong central themes accentuate the masterful composition. Unabashed creativity is given full license. "There is a certain freedom that comes with hearing yourself react to a new musical environment. I really wanted to take on something new that was still my own, but was able to explore styles that I utilize as a player that are not appropriate for Daath," Werstler says, "I'm primarily influenced by non-metal guitarists like Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Herring, and Martin Gore from Depeche Mode; Avalance of Worms was a great platform to reach deeper into my bag of tricks and push my need to integrate other genres of music with a metal sound. Having a notorious genre-fusing drummer to play with really helped me get closer to what's ultimately swimming around in my head."
Drummer Sean Reinert (Cynic, ex-Death) proves yet again to be unparalleled in his intensity and musicality. "The way he forced us to focus on feel and pocket was uncompromising. His playing is so right, all of the time, that you have to be right there with him in your playing, or the part is ruined," Levi says, "Playing with Reinert forces you to become more musical."
"Although we were writing and recording in separate parts of the country, I felt a distinct musical connection through out this whole process," adds Reinert, "The fact I already had a professional and personal relationship with Eyal and Emil allowed me to be even more clear and potent in my approach to the music."
Reinert's drumming provides a solid base for the strong, complicated, multilayered guitar leads and fierce solos. The solos highlight the musical arc of the record and "completely smoke those on previous DAATH efforts," Werstler says, "We became better at our craft hands down. When you have the rhythm section of Reinert and Kevin Scott, you have what I consider a moving foundation. As a soloist, I find that everything comes from within the song. My ear is constantly listening for accents and things to play off of. With Reinert, It's like a gold mine of musical ideas. Instead of looking for things to change to accommodate a solo, I was able to diversify and let my playing pick its direction similar to the way I would if I was improvising. These are not solos just for the sake of solos- they are important devices that accentuate the overall theme and feel of the record. This is an album for music listeners."
The writing and recording schedule of Avalanche of Worms pushed Werstler and Levi past the limits of sanity. Eight months of writing and recording work was accomplished in about three months due to their other obligations and events.Once focused on this record, days would typically consist of sixteen hours of writing and recording music. Any other time was spent practicing guitar and juggling all the various administrative tasks that come with making a record.The final section for the album was recorded between 5 AM and 9 AM on the last day of the mix session. They literally spent every possible moment working on this up until the very end. "No letup, no slowdown, just relentless, ruthless and downright insane music making," Levi says, "We were wrecking our bodies and brains without regret to get this done exactly how we intended."
"With Levi/Werstler, it was the first time a label came to us asking for the non-expected. Granted, they were looking for a guitar record. However once the writing sessions started taking place, it was quite clear to us that we had no intentions of imitating Steve Vai's Passion and Warfare or writing an instrumental DAATH record. Instead, we were interested in composing something unique but fitting," says Werstler, "When you have a band, write a record, build a brand, and gain fans playing live, you officially have expectations. Between our vision and the sessions, I feel that every element on this record is a more honest, and less tampered with depiction of our relationship as musicians with the need to create art."
Avalanche of Worms sets a new musical and technical precedent for both Werstler and Levi. This work firmly establishes them as a powerful creative force that will continue to forge remarkable music. "The lineup turned the record into a musical freak show that Eyal and I always dreamed of. I'm more proud of this record than any record I've done so far in my career," says Werstler.
"I seriously look forward to writing and recording more music with them!" says Reinert, "It's always nice to put yourself in a new musical environment, a new set of personalities and a new musical dynamic. Avalanche of Worms was both challenging and familiar- that perfect juxtaposition."