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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Vonassi

The Battle Of Ego

Review by Greg Olma

Vonassi is a prog band from the Chicago-land area that really needs to get their “break.” There are many bands that jumped on the prog rock/metal bandwagon but few have been able to really capture the ability to write songs that deserve repeated plays.  A lot of today’s prog focuses on being clever and showing off musical “chops.” Vonassi shows us that you can do both; show off your musical skills while still writing music that is catchy.  Jeff Vaughn, Vince Buonassi, and Chase Carter blend a number of influences including Rush, Dream Theater, Marillion, 90s rock, etc to form a somewhat unique sound.  They certainly know their way around their instruments but more importantly, they write great tunes.  There are many great musicians out there but the really good ones write songs that make you want to hear them over and over again.  Vonassi is just that type of band and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.  If you like any of the above mentioned bands, then do yourself a favor and get The Battle Of Ego.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Drudge

Vonassi really show off their Dream Theater influence on this one.  It’s one of the heavier moments on the record and is a great way to start off the proceedings.  There is a cool, almost rockn roll guitar solo thrown it to keep the listener on their toes.

Gini

This one reminds me of latter day Marillion mixed with The Beatles.  It’s great to hear bands take chances and put very different types of songs on the same album but still make them seem like they belong together.

Beginnings

When I listen to this cut, I am somehow reminded of the Brave record by Marillion but it still sounds new somehow.  The whole band really click on this one and it is definitely one of the standout tunes on The Battle Of Ego.

Strong Arm Welfare

The beginning sounds like A Farewell To Kings era Rush but quickly shifts into a combination of 90s rock with newer prog elements thrown in.

Posing For The Cold

This is a short little acoustic piece that clocks in just under two and half minutes.  It’s a nice little break from the heavier tunes on the record.

The Battle Of Ego

I’m a little surprised that the title cut is so short (usually they are longer epic songs – at least in the prog world) but it a good track nonetheless.  It follows closely in style to “Strong Arm Welfare.”

Authenticity

You may think this is an instrumental because the vocals don’t come in until a third of the way through the song.  It starts off heavy but there are some cool Styx-like keyboards (think Grand Illusion era) thrown in the middle. 

Open Hands

The Rush influence creeps in again on this prog rocker.  There is a lot going on in this tune with different parts that weave together seamlessly.  As a listener, you have to love these types of tracks because there is so much to keep your interest.

In The Mirror

Things slow down a bit on this one.  It has a 70s Moody Blues type of feel.  The vocals really give it that sound but they add elements of Pink Floyd in there too.  It’s a really interesting cut and, although it is probably my least favorite on the disc, it is far from bad.

The Now Game
Bonsais and Vaughn make up a really formidable rhythm section and they really shine on the beginning of this tune.  It is very Geddy Lee/Neil Peart in style.  The rest of the track has more of a 90s rock sound.  “The Now Game” is like “Open Hand” in that both have a lot going on musically.
Field Of View

There is not much to say about this one other than it is another prog rocker that shows off Vonassi as a talented prog rock band.  It is a mid paced tune that has some heavier moments yet the underlying melodies have kind of a “bounce” to them.

Coiled

Vonassi leave the best for last.  I feel this is the most prog of all the cuts on the album.  They take you on a roller coaster ride of different styles and levels of heaviness but somehow still keep a common thread throughout the whole track.  My recommendation would be to listen to the whole CD because there is still quality music like this all the way to the end.

 
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