Originally conceived as a collaboration between drummer Jeff Vaughn and bassist Vince Buonassi, VONASSI released their first Prog EP in 2008. Since then, the band has added a third member, vocalist/guitarist Chase Carter, and the power trio signed a deal with Prog Rock records. This fortunate turn of events has culminated in the release of the band’s first full-length album, “The Battle Of Ego.”
One of the most attractive things about VONASSI is not any gratuitous display of instrumental wankery, but rather the remarkable restraint the band shows. The trio goes about the record with a sense of delicacy, with melody often being prioritized over tricky riffing or errant time changes. The band makes extraordinarily effective use of acoustic guitars, particularly on the track “Beginnings.”
“The Battle Of Ego” is an album that doesn’t overwhelm the listener with progginess. Most of the time, when one musician is wailing away on his instrument, the others back off a little, playing simpler lines so as not to detract from the soloist. A perfect example is on the verses of “Field Of View”; while Buonassi plays a fast, complicated bass riff, the guitar plays a single, staccato chord, punctuating the bass at the beginning of the riff. This system generally works well, creating an overall sound that is easy to listen to while remaining technically impressive. These guys are also great at writing catchy choruses, as exemplified by the vocal hooks in “The Now Game,” probably the album’s catchiest ditty.
VONASSI might not be as all-out Prog as something like RUSH, but what they’ve done is create a nice blend of Prog and Melodic Rock themes, creating a Prog experience that’s a little easier to get into on your first try. While “The Battle Of Ego” should satisfy any long-time Prog fan, genre newbies should find it a solid point of entry as well. This power trio has delicately crafted a smooth-flowing album that should appeal to Prog fans old and new.
(Online August 24, 2011)