Emil Werstler

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Emil Werstler
Emil Werstler 2 by Steven Walton - 2014.jpg
Werstler in 2014, photographed by Steven Walton
Background information
OriginUnited States
GenresHeavy metal, blues, jazz, experimental
Occupation(s)Guitarist, composer, music educator
InstrumentsGuitar, bass
Years active2004–present
LabelsMagna Carta Records, Roadrunner Records, Century Media, E1 Music
Associated actsChimaira, Dååth, Levi/Werstler, Arsis, Enders Game, Xerath, Sylencer, Ron George, Austrian Death Machine

Emil Werstler is an American guitarist and musician based in Atlanta, Georgia,[1][2] who is perhaps best known for his work with metal and gypsy jazz.[3] In 2004, Werstler became lead guitarist for the metal band Dååth,[4] whose second album The Hinderers peaked at No. 49 on the Top Heatseekers chart in 2007.[5] In 2009 Dååth released The Concealers on Roadrunner,[6] which reached No. 35 on Top Heatseekers[6] and was placed as No. 3 on a list of the "top twenty metal albums of 2009" by Metal Sucks.[7] In 2010 Werstler released the instrumental metal album Avalanche of Worms as a collaboration with Eyal Levi,[8][9] with the album receiving a largely positive response[10] for its musicianship and experimental nature.[11]

After the release of Dååth in 2010,[12] by 2012 Werstler had been confirmed as the new lead guitarist for the metal band Chimaira. With Werstler as a co-writer, Chimaira's final album Crown of Phantoms was released in 2013,[13] reaching No. 52 on the Billboard 200 chart.[14] Werstler announced his departure from Chimaira in late 2014, with the rest of the band dissolving shortly afterwards.[15] Since 2006 Werstler has performed as a session musician for rock and metal groups such as Arsis, Enders Game, Xerath, Sylencer, and Austrian Death Machine, and he is a contributing columnist for Premier Guitar.[16] An ongoing instructor at JamPlay,[17] Werstler has taught guitar clinics throughout the United States.[18]

Early life and education[edit]

Emil Werstler was born and raised in Alabama.[2] He comes from a musically inclined family, and at a young age was exposed to diverse music by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Led Zeppelin.[1] At age six he began learning piano,[1] an instrument he described being un-enthused about for the several years he attended lessons.[1] At age twelve[2] he began teaching himself guitar[2] with a Washburn Lyon guitar and a ROSS keyboard amp, later stating that "I had no idea what a setup was nor did I even know there were guitars that were easier to play. I was just concerned about learning anything I could."[1]

Early on he taught himself songs from heavy metal albums[1] like Testament’s Low and Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven, and also "wound up really getting into more harmonically technical bands like Death and Cynic."[2] As he grew further accustomed to other tracks, he developed an interest in the jazz recorded by artists such as Pat Martino.[2] Self-taught on guitar throughout middle school and high school,[2][19] Werstler began teaching the instrument at about age fifteen.[19] At eighteen Werstler moved from Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia to attend college[2] at the Atlanta Institute of Music. While in college he took a break from playing metal to focus on older genres such as jazz and bebop.[19]

Music career[edit]

Dååth early albums (2004-2008)[edit]

While studying music in Atlanta, Werstler was introduced to metal musician Eyal Levi through a mutual friend. Though Werstler was not looking to focus on the metal genre in particular, he ended up giving Levi some guitar lessons.[2] After some time passed, in 2004 Levi asked Werstler to join the death metal band Dååth, with Werstler taking on the role of co-lead guitarist.[4] On April 25, 2004, Dååth self-released their debut album Futility, touring in support of the release.[4] While continuing to perform with Dååth, in 2006 Werstler was a guest guitar soloist on the Arsis album United in Regret.[9] United in Regret received favorable reviews from press worldwide, including The Village Voice[20] and Pop Matters.[21] Dååth's sophomore album The Hinderers was released on March 20, 2007 on Roadrunner Records, peaking at No. 49 on the Top Heatseekers chart.[5] Allmusic gave the album a near-perfect score of 4.5/5, writing that "the intricately sculpted guitar collaborations of... Eyal Levi and instinctive lead guitar wunderkind Emil Werstler complement [co-founder Mike Kameron]'s considerable orchestrating abilities perfectly."[5]

In 2008 Werstler was a guest guitar soloist on the track "Subzero" by Austrian Death Machine.[9] On April 21, 2009, Dååth released The Concealers on Roadrunner and Century Media.[6] It peaked at No. 35 on the Top Heatseekers chart.[6] A MetalSucks.com ranking by Vince Neilstein placed The Concealers as No. 3 on a list of the "top twenty metal albums of 2009," writing that "through Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler’s trained technique, The Concealers is musically interesting and extremely varied, too, a rarity in the realm of — for lack of a better way of describing it — commercially viable metal music."[7] With Dååth Werstler has performed live at festivals such as Ozzfest,[17] and he was a fill-in musician for the band Unearth in 2009, taking the role of guitarist Buz McGrath.[18] American metal band Chimaira had Werstler fill in for Matt DeVries during a number of European tour dates in 2009, with Werstler helping support their album The Infection from September until October.[22]

Levi/Werstler and Avalanche of Worms (2010)[edit]

"Avalanche of Worms is an incredibly unique and diverse piece of work... [Levi and Werstler push] the boundaries in several directions at once, taking elements of prog, metal, avant-garde, classical, jazz and experimentalism to varying heights both in their respective contexts and as a wild, yet listenable, cornucopia of styles."
— Ryan Ogle of Blabbermouth[11]

During the break between the final tour for The Concealers album cycle and the writing sessions for the upcoming Dååth album, Eyal Levi and Werstler released a collaborative album entitled Avalanche of Worms on April 20, 2010.[19] Magna Carta Records had first approached the duo about a collaboration after becoming familiar with their playing through the 2009 Guitars Ate My Brain compilation,[19] and Avalanche of Worms features twelve all instrumental rock-metal tracks co-written by both guitarists.[19] Both Levi and Werstler produced the album, which includes contributions from guest artists such as drummer Sean Reinert of Cynic.[2] The album received positive to mixed reviews[10] for its experimental and non-commercial nature.[11] Ryan Ogle of Blabbermouth wrote that the two guitarists had composed and recorded a "dazzling display of fretboard pyrotechnics,"[11] while Metal Sucks called it "one of the best albums of 2010 thus far."[23] Levi/Werstler afterwards toured with the band Cynic, also playing a number of other shows in between Dååth gigs.[2]

Dååth and joining Chimaira (2010)[edit]

The band Enders Game brought Werstler in as a guest soloist for a track on their album What We've Lost in 2010.[9] Dååth released their fourth studio album in October 2010 via Century Media Records.[24] The eponymous Dååth[12] met with largely positive reviews, with Blistering writing that "Levi’s and Werstler’s guitar riffs drive the album’s force and display beautiful transitions and time signature changes."[25] Allmusic wrote that the album was "another reminder that now it's the guitar-wielding duo of Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler (whose superlative lead work remains a must-hear proposition in its own right) running the Dååth show."[12] Werstler played guitar for a number of albums as a guest soloist in 2011, including II by Xerath, the Nine Inch Nails tribute Just Like You Imagined by From Exile, and The Age of Hell by Chimaira,[9] which sold more than 7,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 54 on the Billboard 200 chart.[26] After previously having played rhythm guitar for the band in 2009, Werstler periodically performed bass guitar for Chimaira in 2011,[18] and by 2012 it had been confirmed that he would replace Rob Arnold as the band's lead guitarist, with Jeremy Creamer from Dååth taking on Werstler's previous bass duties.[27] Werstler continued to work as a studio musician and in 2012 he played lead guitar for the track "Shock and Awe" on the album A Lethal Dose of Truth by Sylencer.[8]

Crown of Phantoms (2011-2013)[edit]

On December 29, 2012, Chimaira Christmas 13 revealed a new song from the upcoming 2013 album, titled "I Despise".[28] The seventh and final studio album by Chimaira,[13] Crown of Phantoms was released on July 30, 2013, via record label E1 Music.[13] Werstler helped with co-writing the songs.[13] On May 14, 2013, Chimaira released the album's first single, "All That's Left Is Blood", along with an accompanying music video[29] and guitar solos by Werstler.[30][31] A second single, "No Mercy", and music video was released on June 18, 2013.[32][33] The album reached position 52 on the Billboard 200 charts on its first week of release,[14] and improvement from the band's previous peak at No. 54.[34] Crown of Phantoms made it into the "Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2013" list compiled by Metal Sucks, ranking at No. 6. Reviewer Axl Rosenberg praised the new lineup, writing that "lead guitarist Emil Werstler and drummer Austin D’Amond give MVP performances; they sound ADD in the best possible way, taking riffs and fills which might be 'stock' in other hands and turning them into something just that much more creative and unique."[35]

Teaching, recent projects (2014-present)[edit]

By September 2013 the band was supporting Crown of Phantoms with a tour of the United States.[2] Werstler announced his departure from Chimaira on September 1, 2014, and a day later, four other members announced their departure as well.[15] On September 3 the band announced their formal break-up, describing it as amicable.[36] Werstler had a guest guitar solo on A Question of Perspective by Ron George in 2014, also performing on a single by Nok Novum.[8] In November 2014, Metal Sucks included Werstler as No. 2 a short-list of "five guitarists we'd be happy to see join Megadeth," underneath only former Megadeth member Marty Friedman.[37] Among other live appearances, in 2015 Werstler was a fill-in at a Brent Mason show, performing with Mason in Evansville, Indiana.[18] He made his final live appearance of 2015 opening for Deantoni Parks with electronic artist Chris Hunt on the 16th of December.[38]

According to a 2015 interview, Werstler is nearing completion on his debut solo album, which is due for a 2016 release. He described the album as an opportunity to avoid "compromising" on the final rendition of tracks in any way, and also stated it wouldn't be described as "guitar music" only. Stated Werstler, "I don't look at myself as just a guitar player - I've always stressed the importance of having an identity and writing music."[39] Werstler is an ongoing contributing columnist for Premier Guitar,[16] and among other features on his musicianship, in 2009 Guitar World Magazine featured two segments of "Betcha Can't Play This" on Werstler.[16] Werstler has taught guitar clinics throughout the United States,[18] and beyond private instructions, he is also an ongoing instructor at JamPlay.[17]

Style and equipment[edit]

Emil Werstler photographed by Steven Walton in 2014.

As a six-string guitarist and bassist[3] with a musical background in jazz and blues,[19] Werstler incorporates diverse genres into his music,[40] though he is perhaps best known for his work with metal and gypsy jazz.[3] According to Werstler, he has been influenced by musicians and vocalists such as Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, David Eugene Edwards of Woven Hand, Anna Calvi, and Flying Lotus among others.[1] In terms of jazz, he has also cited musicians such as George Benson, Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian, and Pat Martino as having an influence on his musical outlook.[1]

External video
video icon Video: "Interview with Emil Werstler" - Vol 247

As a guitarist, Werstler uses several models but is particularly known for playing a hollowbody.[41] After playing a Spruce Hollowbody PRS on the first few Daath tours, Werstler was approached by the company in 2006 and began playing Paul Reed Smith Guitars exclusively. He often tours in the United States with seven different models on hand.[2] According to Werstler, the guitars "are used for different tunings — one main and one backup per tuning: Drop C, Drop B, and Drop A. The 7th guitar is used as a bus guitar for warming up or teaching on the road."[2] He described the PRS Archon as his primary instrument for "metal and loud rock,"[1] while he uses the PRS Private Stock JA-15 for more general purposes.[1] In terms of guitar pedals, as of 2014 he primarily uses the Xotic Overdrive model, as well as the Electro Harmonix brand.[1] Werstler continues to be active as a clinician and endorsee for Xotic Effects and PRS Guitars as of 2015.[16] He is also an official advocate of the PRS Archon amp.[42] He has been a part of a few ad campaigns and product launches, including the PRS Hollowbody with Mike Scott.[41] Werstler has made a number of appearances at the annual Experience PRS event with a main stage performance and clinics with various musicians.[43]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2015, Werstler continues to teach in the Atlanta, Georgia area.[16]


Albums with Dååth[edit]

Dååth studio albums with Emil Werstler as member[8][9]
Year Album title Release details Chart peaks
2004 Futility
  • Released: April 25, 2004[4]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital
2007 The Hinderers
  • Released: March 20, 2007[5]
  • Label: Roadrunner
  • Format: CD, digital
2009 The Concealers 35
2010 Dååth
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Albums with Levi/Werstler[edit]

Albums by the collaborative project Levi/Werstler[8][9]
Year Album title Release details
2010 Avalanche of Worms

Albums with Chimaira[edit]

Albums by Emil Werstler[8][9]
Year Album title Release details Chart peaks

2013 Crown of Phantoms
  • Released: July 30, 2013[47]
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD, digital, vinyl
52 4 86 8 10
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Guest credits[edit]

Incomplete list of production credits for Emil Werstler[8][9]
Yr Album release title Artist(s) Notes, role
2006 United in Regret (Depeche Mode cover) Arsis Guitar solo (track 8)
2008 Total Brutal Austrian Death Machine Guitar solo on "Subzero"
2009 Guitars That Ate My Brain Guitars That Ate My Brain Guitar solo on track No. 5 ("Unwavering Collapse")
Monolith From Exile Guitar solo on "Aparition"
2010 What We’ve Lost Enders Game Guitar on track “A Flawed Design”
2011 II Xerath Guitar solo on "Nuclear Self Eridication"
The Age of Hell Chimaira Keyboards, guitar solo on track 16 ("Samsara"), bass
Just Like You Imagined (NIN tribute) From Exile Soloist on track "A Warm Place"
2012 A Lethal Dose of Truth Sylencer Lead guitar, solo on track 4 ("Shock and Awe")
2014 A Question of Perspective Ron George Guitar solo on track "Margin of Error"
"Shiryo" (online single) Nok Novum Guitar solo[18]
2015 Plagued Works of Flesh Guitar solo on "Paradise Lie"[48]


Selected music videos featuring performances by Werstler
Year Title Original artist Release details
2007 "Subterfuge" Dååth Roadrunner production
"Festival Mass Soulform" Roadrunner production
2009 "Day of Endless Light" Century Media video release: July 3, 2009
2013 "All That's Left Is Blood" Chimaira Single release: May 16, 2013
"No Mercy" Single release: June 18, 2013
"Wrapped in Violence" VEVO release: Jan 29, 2014
"Crown of Phantoms" YouTube release: Dec 21, 2014

Further reading[edit]

Interviews and articles
  • "Emil Werstler - the Metalsucks Interview". Metal Sucks. May 19, 2010.
  • "Emil Werstler Interview: Avalanche of Worms". Guitar International. July 4, 2010. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015.
  • "The Making of Daath, Part 6 - exclusive Interview with Guitairst Emil Werstler". Metal Sucks. October 19, 2010.
  • "Exclusive Play-Through Video: Chimaira — "All That's Left Is Blood"". Guitar World. July 31, 2013.
  • "Chimaira/Daath Guitarist Emil Werstler's Shocking Confession: "I'll Throw 5ths into Anything"". Gear Gods. July 15, 2014.
  • "Five Guitarists and Five Drummers We'd Be Happy to See Join Megadeth". Metal Sucks. November 26, 2014.
  • "Emil Werstler - Author". Premier Guitar. 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Alfano, Chris (December 4, 2014). ""I Realized That Asshole Playing That Sounded Horrible Was Me" – an Interview with Emil Werstler". Gear Gods. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Werstler, Emil (September 9, 2013). "Rigged: Chimaira Guitarist Emil Werstler". Metalsucks. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  3. ^ a b c Alfano, Chris (July 15, 2014). "Chimaira/Daath Guitarist Emil Werstler's Shocking Confession: "I'll Throw 5ths into Anything"". Gear Gods. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  4. ^ a b c d Rivadavia, Eduardo (April 25, 2004). "Futility". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  5. ^ a b c d Rivadavia, Eduardo (March 20, 2007). "Daarth - The Hinderers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  6. ^ a b c d e Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Review: The Concealers". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  7. ^ a b Neilstein, Vince (December 17, 2009). "Vince Neilstein's Top Twenty Metal Albums of 2009". MetalSucks.com. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Emil Werstler". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Emil Werstler credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  10. ^ a b c Freeman, Phil (2010). "Eyal Levi / Emil Werstler". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  11. ^ a b c d Ogle, Ryan (2011). "Levi/Werstler". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  12. ^ a b c d Rivadavia, Eduardo (2010-10-18). "Dååth - Dååth". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  13. ^ a b c d "Chimaira Frontman Talks 'Crown Of Phantoms' Album With Artisan News (Video)". Blabbermouth.net. July 25, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Brown, Matt (August 14, 2013). "Metal By Numbers 8/14: Asking Alexandria About The Charts". Metal Insider. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  15. ^ a b "...And Then Everyone But The Vocalist Quits CHIMAIRA (Again)". MetalInjection.net. Retrieved 2014-09-03.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Emil Werstler - Author". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  17. ^ a b c "Emil Werstler Guitar Lessons". jamplay.com. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  18. ^ a b c d e f "Videos". Emil Werstler Official - Youtube. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Warnock, Matt (July 4, 2010). "Emil Werstler Interview: Avalanche of Worms". Guitar International. Archived from the original on 2015-11-22. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  20. ^ Death Metal With No Masturbatory Dissonance - The Village Voice (December 5, 2006)
  21. ^ Popmatters: United in Regret review
  22. ^ "CHIMAIRA Guitarist To Sit Out Rest Of European Tour; DAATH's WERSTLER To Step In". Blabbermouth. September 20, 2009. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  23. ^ Rosenberg, Axl (May 19, 2010). "Emil Werstler - the Metalsucks Interview". Metal Sucks. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  24. ^ "Dååth: New Album Art". Metal CallOut. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  25. ^ "Review: Dååth - Dååth". Blistering.com. 2007-11-22. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  26. ^ "Age of Hell". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  27. ^ Kik Axe (2011-12-09). "Exclusive: New guitarist straps up for CHIMAIRA duties..." Kik Axe Music. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  28. ^ YouTube (2012-12-29). "Chimaira 2013 Official Teaser". ChimairaTube. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  29. ^ "All That's Left Is Blood - Single - Chimaira". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  30. ^ "Chimaira: New Single Available For Streaming". Blabbermouth.net. May 15, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  31. ^ Fanelli, Damian (July 31, 2013). "Exclusive Play-Through Video: Chimaira — "All That's Left Is Blood"". Guitar World. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  32. ^ "No Mercy - Single - Chimaira". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  33. ^ "Chimaira: 'No Mercy' Video Released". Blabbermouth.net. June 19, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  34. ^ "CHIMAIRA: 'Crown Of Phantoms' First-Week Sales Revealed". Blabbermouth. April 7, 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  35. ^ Rosernberg, Axl (December 3, 2013). "Axl Rosenberg's Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2013". metalsucks.net. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  36. ^ "It's Official: Chimaira Calls It Quits". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
  37. ^ Rosenberg, Axl (November 26, 2014). "Five Guitarists and Five Drummers We'd Be Happy to See Join Megadeth". Metal Sucks. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  38. ^ "Emil Werstler playing with Deantoni Parks on Wednesday, December 16t". Sound Space official Facebook. December 1, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  39. ^ "Emil Werstler Concert and Live Workshop Archive". JamPlay. May 14, 2015.
  40. ^ Rosenberg, Axl (October 19, 2010). "The Making of Daath, Part 6 - exclusive Interview with Guitairst Emil Werstler". Metal Sucks. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  41. ^ a b "Mike Scott and Emil Werstler - PRS Hollowbody". Paul Reed Smith Guitars. October 11, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  42. ^ "Archon: High-Gain Heavyweight". PRS Guitars. 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  43. ^ "Video: Highlights from the Experience PRS 2012 SE 7 Clinics". Emil Werstler official Facebook. November 27, 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  44. ^ "Chimaira – Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  45. ^ "Chimaira – Chart History: Hard Rock Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  46. ^ "Discography Chimaira". australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  47. ^ Heaney, Gregory. "Crown of Phantoms – Chimaira". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  48. ^ "Works of Flesh by Plagued". Sputnik Music. August 9, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.

External links[edit]

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