The car is an 01 Z28 with bolt-ons and an F13 cam, 99k miles on the odometer. This ticking developed a few days ago on my way to work. I've done several searches on here and youtube comparing this noise to common noises (belt tensioner, lifters, pushrods), but none of them sound the same as this one to me. The noise is there all the time (idle, acceleration, deceleration), and varies according to the rpms. Any guesses where I can start to look?

I changed the oil today, it did not smell burnt and there were no metal shavings in the oil/plug, oil pressure is good. I haven't ruled out belt/pulley issues, but I wasn't sure how to test for that (I can't start the engine with no belt, can I?). My next idea is to pull the valve covers and check the valvetrain, see if anything looks out of the ordinary.

I can't really afford to take it to a mechanic right now, so any help is greatly appreciated!!!