Well, bad news guys. I did a few more checks and the results don't seem good.
I tried a leakdown test with the cams removed, and I could only get 60-70% leakdown at best, depending on which cylinder. Just to be clear. I put in 100psi and could only hold 30-40 psi. Ive never seen such a leaky combustion chamber. I wanted to rule out any ring seal problems because the motor is 100% fresh and has never been fired, so I put a little oil into a couple of the cylinders to try and stop any ring gaps, and nothing seemed to improve. I guess the upshot, if there is any is that it looks like my leakage is isolated to the head and has nothing to do with the shortblock. Still quite annoying. I guess the head is coming off for sure. Bent valves? Bad valve job? What the hell went wrong?