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Torman Maxt - The Problem Of Pain: Part 1 CD (album) cover

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN: PART 1

Torman Maxt

 

Progressive Metal

1.58 | 36 ratings

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1800iareyay
Prog Reviewer
1 stars Torman Maxt gained a little bit of notoriety in May of 2008 when they became the first subject of this web site's Featured Artist section, which was designed to both introduce visitors to new acts as well as earn the site a little income so as not to bombard us all with incessant talking ads or even converting the Archives to a paysite. Trouble was, the recognition came as a result of the band insisting that the site bar any negative reviews while it was the FA. The subsequent explosion of internet wrath completely overshadowed the album itself. In Torman Maxt's case, that's kind of a good thing.

Torman Maxt is a Christian progressive metal band made up of three brothers (literally and in Christ). They've been plugging away for nearly 15 years, and have only 3 albums to show for it. Jesus, what are they, Tool? These albums better be spectacular to be worth such long waits. Well, if this one is any indication, they aren't. Now, I must admit a certain bias; I grew up in a heavily Baptist community and have been subjected to Christian rock for over a decade. It is right up there with the Inquisition, Crusades, and witch trials on that list of egregious sins committed by Christians. Now, this will sound insensitive, but I think it's accurate: if you can be converted to a religion, any religion, by a song, you're an idiot. Religion is a serious step, a decision on how to live your life, and something as gloriously trivial as a rock song should never determine your life code. But that criticism is perhaps unfair. Surely the people who play Christian rock are smart enough to realize they won't convert people because no one could possibly be that stupid. So maybe it's just for us Christians to enjoy while getting together. Of course, all too often lyrics are little more than a repeated chorus extolling the awesomeness of Jesus (he fed the 5000, cured the ailing, and could totally dunk from half court) and the composition is a simple acoustic rock riff, so most of my Christian friends get our kicks with normal bands.

The problem is that whatever the reason these guy play for, they fail. Let's consider Option A and suspend our disbelief and assume that Torman Maxt wants to bring more young 'uns to the fold. The Problem of Pain is about the story of Job. *slams brakes* Did you say Job? Yep, Job. The worst story in the entire Bible. For those of you who don't know, Job is the sotry of how God's most faithful follower was cruelly punished, nay, tortured (punished implies you did something wrong) by the Lord basically because of a hosing contest he was having with Satan. Satan is sure that, if stripped of all his fortunes, Job will curse God. It is the story everyone cites when they attack religion and it terrified me as a child.

Option B states that the band just wants to make some good music for Christians. Torman Maxt proudly state their Rush and Dream Theater influences, yet the music barely reflects any influence at all from anyone. I say that because it's so achingly simplistic that it's impossible to derive any musical style at all, much less the impact of any one band. I've taken Meshuggah to task before for starting albums with 6-7 riffs and repeating them for an hour at various tempos, tunings, and time signatures. Torman Maxt have a grand total of one riff, played with different speeds, volumes, and levels of distortion. The singer sounds like Geddy Lee only not as good. Read that sentence three more times and see if your head doesn't explode (and this from an ardent fan of Geddy's voice). The songs have moments of average mediocrity, but these last only seconds before dipping back into the monotonous failure of the album. The one that gets me the most is Satan's First Song. After some choirs that are so annoyingly repetitive that they destroy any potential hint of epicness, Satan gets his song, rife with the first heavy distortion of the album. No, I'm not kidding, these metalheads seem to believe that their own music is the devil's music.

The most and indeed only interesting part of the whole album is the strange fact that the horrifically gory tale of Job's torture is censored here. The boys gloss over some of the meatier aspects and just focus on the story as a whole. This has already been pointed out, but has the Bible become too hardcore for teens? After all, every time a classmate shoots up a school hall video games and rock music get blamed; could the Bible's multiple stories about bloody jihads (often supported by God in the Old Testament) be an equal threat to impressionable youth? That opens the door to some fascinating social and theological discussion that is completely inappropriate for an album review unless I strip down and skinny dip in the Lester Bangs Stream of Consciousness.

I've listened to the album three times now because I feel that a first listen cannot convey everything you need to make a solid opinion. In doing so, I have come to feel an odd affinity with Job. Like that poor sod, I have been subjected to inhumane treatment for no reason at all. Also like him, I had the power to end this merely by claiming ENOUGH! Of course, his reason for not doing so was devotion to God and mine was...well, I don't even know. It's not the worst album I have ever heard, but it's up there. Perhaps TM can rebound with the second part (unlikely) or in future albums (unknown) but they need a massive overhaul, and fast.

Grade: F

1800iareyay | 1/5 |

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