Review by Rick Ossian
While I was definitely intrigued by these unsigned fellows from Columbus, Ohio, I was also disturbed. The recording, an EP, is bookended by two blurbs of noise/FX, Wake and Sleep. They are merely interludes, and, in my opinion, time-wasters. They are intended to set up the music contained herein, and don’t necessarily fall short, but in my opinion should have been fleshed out or had more tunes added to the fray.
As you make your way through the rest of the music here, there will be moments of excitement and moments of wonder. Yes, you will wonder why such angelic vocals are contained amidst Riff City hammerings and stop-on-a-dime and TURN, complicated arrangements. It was as if a boy band had tried to trade blows with a local progressive metal outfit. Again, I digress. I should probably mention who the folks in Novallo are; Gino Bambino (is that a real name?) (guitarist, producer), Sam Gitiban (vocalist), Nick Salvatore (percussionist) and Brandon Johnson (bassist). They started out around 2006, according to the bio, and from what I can hear have made considerable strides since then.
In Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton, I was reminded of Frank Zappa, Beardfish, and certain jazz-fusion stuff I’ve heard over the years. There is a distinct instrumentation here, that of mainly riffy weirdness, vocal FX, almost a reggae beat. At 2:20 the gents show their proggy-metal site, and they will continue to do so throughout. This is bizarre and weird for the most part, but that’s not to say that it’s not good. I’m a bit on the fence here, folks – I am tempted to go for higher praise but I’m afraid I’m becoming perhaps a bit too jaded or critical for my own good!
1 A.M. starts life off with an almost Dr. John (Right Place Wrong Time) – style intro. Keys and synths with a freaky vocal effect. Kind of cool, though again I am straddling the fence with my ultimate yay or nay vote. Let us continue. There is some sweet bass guitar action going on here, and another of many angelic refrains at the 3-minute mark. I was reminded of Deodato, of all artists, on this one. There was a definite disco keyboard groove happening in the mix. Now, while I was never a fan of disco, I suppose it can be tolerated in the mix. I would not have put it there, but as I said, my attention is wavering.
Sideways Bird has a nice little nature effect (birds) to start out life, then we are slammed into oblivion by a funk metal fest with some pretty decent vocals. It’s almost a bit too sunshine-y (the vocals I refer to), but then that is consistent with what we’ve heard thus far. Keys again figure heavily into the mix, but it IS still Metal. Just Metal-lite, perhaps. There is some heavy duty drum and bass playing going on here as well, but the drums almost sounded a bit machinated…could just be that skeptical critic in me again!
Give Gravity a Choice has a pretty cool spooky intro, and at about a minute or so in the guitar chords sounded like bells to me, for some reason. This track I found mellower than the stuff that preceded it, a bit introspective, even. The vocals are good but again a bit tame, and I never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but I’m missing heavier, dirtier vocals all of a sudden for some reason. Sometimes the straight/clean stuff can irritate, too, I guess. There is a pretty piano piece here, and a lead guitar solo of sorts, but it is mostly Riff City and a powerful shift at the 3:15 mark. Again, I heard heavy keys in the mix, so we should be getting used to that by now!
The last tune proper is White Phoenix. It is good, and makes a visit to Riff City along the way. The keys were of a Nintendo nature this time out, and in my notes I wrote BOY BAND METAL? really big again. This, as I say, can be a disturbing trend. It’s good, but it’s a bit cheezy, isn’t it? Perhaps it is just me, or my distorted, tinnitus-riddled eardrums? Who knows? I should probably listen to it again to make sure…The complicated arrangements surface again here as well. Funk-metal will slam you again and again, and at the 3-minute mark there is another pretty little piano flourish. The crescendo at the end was good, with some nice drums and sort of Foo-Fighters type vocalization.