"...Casella's voice is god. Thick, rough without screaming, dynamic, perfectly in tune, and -- surrounded by the detuned musical onslaught, beautiful. One of the best rock/metal voices I've ever heard." - Andrew Perkins, Space City Rock.
The Distant End
written by Derek Walker at The Phantom Tollbooth
This rock-minded acoustic self-release has several surprises. I wish there were more like him – inventive types, who wait until they have quality material and then give it their best shot.
Label: Independent (www.tonyonfire.com)
Time: 11 Tracks /44 minutes
Houston-based Tony Casella is a man of surprises, and the first is his big entrance. Not one to do things gently, he bursts into this release as if the PA has broken and he’s trying to sing to the third tier of the balcony – and at this stage, he’s still playing acoustic guitar. What’s more, he’s opening the disc with a rock song in 3/4 time.
He shows his versatility in the first few songs. The acoustic-electric split of the grungey “Set Me Free” sets up the range of material to follow. “If Ever” is a rock ballad that – along with one or two others – carries hints of Mediterranean and Flamenco aromas, while “Anomaly of Anomalies” has something different again going on: it has the feel of unplugged Nirvana, only with Mac Powell singing. But there is more to come. Stephen Delopoulos-like vocals, the rhythms and even the chord progressions combine to make “Distorted Forms” sound quite like a rocky Burlap to Cashmere outtake.
And one of the biggest highlights comes last: “Whatever It Means to You” is wordless, but has a life of its own. Built from percussive samples and a simple bass line, Casella uses his vocals to build a mood and then drop it down again. It is the archetypal simple-but-effective strategy, one that sums up much of this disc.
Not everything shines. Although worth including, “Solace” sounds quite flat at the start, until it builds into the acoustic emo type sound that Nouveaux and a host of CCM sound-alikes used to churn out.
Casella takes faith themes – prayers, reflections on life and comments about the world - and keeps them refreshingly clear of jargon.
This is an independent release. As such, having just a trio to work with, the sound could have been really lo-fi, but the mix is so finely tuned that it is a real pleasure to listen to. It is the same with the song selection; Casella waited ten years before releasing this, so this is the cream of his produce. I wish there were more like him – inventive types, who wait until they have quality material and then give it their best shot, rather than banging out a collection as soon as they can muster 40 minutes-worth.
After failing in an attempt to create a time machine at the age of 7, Tony Casella put aside his dreams of time travel to pursue rock stardom.
Born in the "City of Legends," Quincy, Massachusetts, Casella was raised by a pack of bikers who all but forced him to play guitar. His childhood was nationwide.
At 22, living on the road and armed with only his acoustic guitar, Tony arrived in Houston, Texas. He co-founded the alternative/metal band Deafening. Deafening enjoyed local and regional success, which included two tours to Los Angeles, an appearance in an MTV video for gold-selling artists Cold, and opening for Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains.
Casella, under the name Tony on Fire, then released an acoustic-oriented grunge rock album entitled The Distant End; an expression of raw, sincere, and intimate emotion.
Over the next few years, after performing hundreds of acoustic shows, Casella longed to rock out with a full band again; hence The Nirvana Experience: the ultimate Nirvana tribute band was born. Casella cut off his brown locks, bleached his hair, and equipped himself with a Fender Jaguar to bring the essence of Kurt Cobain to the stage.
As of the summer of 2013, rumors of a second Tony on Fire album are beginning to surface!
Tony is seeking opportunities for national promotion and touring support. He is actively performing solo acoustic rock shows throughout the Houston area as well as regional shows with The Nirvana Experience.
"...Deafening, which hit my in-box this morning, literally blew me away with an inventive metal sound that is capable (and has been) a frontrunner through both Internet and commercial radio." - Jake Wheat, Streetblast Radio.