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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Levi/Werstler

Avalanche of Worms

Review by Gary Hill

This is an all instrumental album. It has quite a bit of heavy metal built into it, but more in a fusion motif. There are other sounds that occur, too. Often fully instrumental releases can suffer from a monolithic nature that leads them to drag and feel redundant. This disc definitely avoids that. It features members of Daath and Cynic. Fans of hard edged instrumental progressive rock should love this.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Noxious Vermin, My Friend

This comes in tentatively and eventually powers out to a really heavy jam. There are some definite symphonic elements in the progression, but this could qualify as heavy metal. Still, I also hear bits of Dream Theater and fusion mixed in here. There is some amazing soloing on this. It manages to become frantic and fiery while avoiding the noodly label. Comparisons to Yngwie Malmsteen would not be unwarranted.

Dura Mater
Another that’s quite symphonic, parts of this remind me of “Flight of the Bumblebees.” This is a pretty incredible piece of music. In some ways it’s more pure metal and yet there is conversely more progressive rock built into this.
Obsidian Fissure
Feeling almost like an extension of the previous piece, parts of this are uber heavy. Yet, it also includes some of the most purely progressive rock sounds we’ve heard to this point. There are more things that feel like “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” too. There is a cool mellower, keyboard like portion later and then it moves out into a nearly classical jam that’s very cool. This takes on a more pure progressive rock texture as it builds up. There is also some jazz guitar built into the arrangement. 
Plague House
Coming straight out of the previous piece, there is a twisted sort of thrash metal riff driving this. It works through a couple variations like this before moving into more melodic territory that makes me think of Hemispheres era Rush. The cut careens this way and that after a while and we get some intriguing changes and alterations. It’s one of the more dynamic cuts on the disc and also one of the highlights. The Rush-like movement returns later and is expanded. 
In Amethyst, Through Moldavite
Again, this seems to continue the musical themes of the previous piece at the start. It includes both some of the more metallic music here, and some of the most purely progressive rock oriented. Comparisons to A Farewell to Kings/Hemispheres era Rush is appropriate here, but there are also bits that remind me of more melodic fusion. This is another standout. 
Trellis of Thorns
While this is much mellower and more melodic, it still has every bit the energy of the rest of the album. It is a short piece, coming in less than a minute and a half in length. There is a definite fusion sound present here and hints of RIO, too. It takes on some crunch right at the end to segue into the next number.  
Hollow Thorax of the Gilded Eye
The metallic crescendo of the last piece is continued here, but they drop it to noisy textural territory from there. As this continues it remains mellower and feels rather like a cross between Hawkwind and Djam Karet. Towards the end it seems destined to power out into real rock as there is an insistent building. It doesn’t power out, though, instead the percussion drops away, leaving us more purely in Hawkwind-like territory. This space ambience takes it to the end. At less than two minutes in length, this is another short one. 
Loathsome Little Fiend
This comes in with more metal and resembles some of the earlier cuts. It has a lot of intriguing twists and turns. Parts of this feel like thrash, but there is a definite symphonic quality present, too. We get dropped into a world music, mellow movement later, too. It turns out to a fiery jam later that at times makes me think of Mahavishnu Orchestra a little. 
Trepanation and Bliss
The shortest cut here, this is less than a minute long. It starts with a percussion solo and then works to a flamenco guitar styled piece.
Architectural Necrosis
A proggy jam that makes me think of Captain Beyond opens this. The track drops back after a time and this is more classical in nature. From there it fires out into a more fusion oriented sound, but drops down to carnival music with a twisted flair after a time. From there we are taken to seriously metallic fusion territory as this track fires down the road twisting and turning in some seriously tasty abandon. The changes continue as we’re run into a rubbery sort of thrash meets Dream Theater and Rush segment. Then it’s quickly into another direction. It turns to a symphonic textural interlude to segue into the next piece. 
Casting the Molten Sea
This fires out of the gate in forceful fashion, but the symphonic melody from the previous track continues. After this aggressive introduction they drop it back to mellower territory for a short time and then a new burst of fierce technical riffing rises up. Another brief stint of melodic music interrupts it before we’re back into riff central. There is a very heavy grind later that gives way to some mellower music that takes it out. 
Chrysalis Wound
Only a little over a minute in length, a mellower rock and roll type sound leads this off and holds it for a time. The cut gets a more classic rock meets symphonic metal treatment as it continues.
 
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