It’s a daunting task to approach a band’s overtly-proclaimed concept album for a casual spin when it’s meant to be listened to for deep layers of meaning.  Such is the case for the second album by Italian band N.A.M.B. (the band says that what the acronym stands for varies, but “Noise And Music Bombshell” could be appropriate).

To quote the official press release, BMAN is an “ambitious concept album…about a little robot called BMAN… and his quest for self-identity.”  While the press release also states that the album can be enjoyed as is without any backstory, the 18-song, 70-minute run is an exhausting trek from start to finish due to the band erring on the side of noise instead of melody.

There are shades of Trent Reznor with the more emotional side of Matt Bellamy of Muse to Davide Tomat’s vocals that are mainly sung in English, with some Italian also in the mix.  The band’s sound is a cross between Nine Inch Nails electronics and Muse’s guitar riffs (hmmm, maybe the band’s name stands for “NIN And Muse Blend”).  The songs are hit or miss, with a standout being “TV Invasion” coming on like a belligerent NIN tune at the start with distorted, grimy synths, electronic blips and squeaks, and vocals that veer from soft to shouty, until it morphs into picked acoustic guitar and a background of electronics with Davide falsetto cooing like Prince.

N.A.M.B. gets kooky on “Musichetta In Pausa Signaretta” with kitschy-sounding plucked and curling Hawaiian guitar and the vocals sung in Italian where Davide goes a bit off-kilter and high on the verses, sing-talking about “things you can’t explain”.  Raw emotions are on display for the dissonant “Bye Bye Sides” with Davide shouting out his words amid a constant, fast-picked guitar chord and a plethora of other noises that smother the vocals.

“Work It Out” displays a better balance between noise and melody, alternating between contemplative vocals and gentle guitar strum and a grinding beat and robotic electronic squirks.  Aural utopia is found on “FWR” as the dreamy merges with the bearably noisy where music box chime, guitar strum, and hushed vocals fit alongside a stronger guitar riff, tape rewinding, and tapping sounds.

Album-ender “Blue Sky” is a calm respite of piano notes, cymbal tap, and orchestral strings with Davide sounding like a toned-down Trent Reznor as he sings “Blue sky / I’m waiting for the other side / I’m waiting for you.”