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


Torman Maxt


Progressive Metal

1.57 | 39 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars When I first heard about the now infamous Torman Maxt conspiracy, I thought perhaps Tony Massaro (guitars, vocals) had a point in his accusations that some of the one-star reviews for this album might have somehow been unfairly given. I now know that isn't the case. If you want the whole story and wish to decide for yourself, visit the Torman Maxt interview hosted on this site's forums. I'm going to try and refrain from mentioning it directly from this point on, since the review should center about the album itself, and nothing else. On with the review.

Apparently, a line-up change occurred for the band's second album (which I have not bothered to listen to, and probably never will). Now, instead of the singer from the last release, we get Tony as the lead vocalist (the first guy got out of dodge while he still had time). He hits the notes fine, but he is clearly struggling to match the high, operatic type of voice he so desperately wants in his music. As a result, he sings through his nose and has some pitch issues now and again. Overall, however, his voice is decent, and that's not really one of my larger complaints.

What are the larger complaints, then? Well, for starters (and just like last time), the songs are way too short for the style they are in. Two of the songs don't even reach the two-minute-mark, and one of them (''Job's Initial Shock'') doesn't even feel like a complete song. It sounds like they simply stopped playing halfway through a much bigger piece, and called it a day. And no, following track doesn't continue it, either. It just starts up something else completely.

This 'unfinished' feel to the music is present elsewhere, though perhaps not as prominent. The instrumentation is a bit better than I felt it was on Maxt's first album, but still nothing to write home about. The drums are average and bland, the bass playing is standard, and the guitar playing, while clearly the best of the elements, leaves much to be desired in terms of genuine creativity. Most of the time, it's just predictable licks I've heard many times in the past. The few times things do get creative, it never lasts. In fact, no musical moment seems to last on this album long enough to go anywhere interesting. Just as soon as you get used to where you are, something else bursts in. Sadly, the longest consistent musical passages present on the album are repetitive and basic.

Some tracks sound better than others, and even have some redeeming qualities. That's more than I can say for the band's first release, so in that respect, it means this album is, believe it or not, better than what came before it. That means that Torman Maxt, in their own strange way, are indeed progressing. Unfortunately, even the better tracks don't stay listenable all the way through. For instance, ''The Angel's First Song'' has some very nice moments early on, but by the time it's over, we've got a repetitive, sub- par riff and the juvenile lyrics ''Holy, holy, holy!'' rotating overtop of it.

That's another thing I must address this time around: the lyrics. I almost never lower album scores based on lyrics alone, but I cannot help but bring the lyrical concept of this album to the forefront just for a moment. The Book Of Job is one of the most evil, ridiculous stories I've ever read, and why so many religious artists always jump on that story as their vessel for sharing their faith, I'll never understand. Even more baffling is how everybody who uses Job seems to think they were the first to think of it. Basically, it's a story about a man who is blessed by God, and unconditionally praises him. So, God and the devil make a deal to see if ruining Job's life will weaken his faith in the Lord. it doesn't. God allows Job's children to die, his wealth to be destroyed, and his body to be riddled with sickness. Still, Job's strength in God is ultimately not shaken. This is just part one of the story presented in this album, so I won't give too much away, but here's a hint: he never gets his dead kids back.

Considering the grim nature of the subject matter, I find the overly cheerful, upbeat instrumentation quite unfitting and misaligned with the message. Then again, in the religious' eyes, this story is meant to be positive, so I guess coming from that perspective, the musical style is just dandy. But for me, it doesn't work. The lyrics are too straightforward and preachy, and the music doesn't match the subject matter well at all. In this particular case, when nothing is left up to interpretation lyrically, that's a negative thing. Because I know exactly what it is being talked about, and the generally happy tunes (except for the Satan-themed tracks) conflict with the effect the story has on me. So, that's all I'm saying about the lyrics: they don't suit the music, and it hurts the overall experience.

There is an attempt to be really 'artistic' and 'prog' whenever the band obviously reprises earlier musical themes, but of course that falls flat on its face, especially when you take into consideration the two Satan songs. They are identical. Just the same song, ever-so-slightly-tweaked, stuck on the album twice. Unbelievable.

I honestly don't see how anybody who is serious about music could find much to like, here. I'm not saying that lightly, and I realize that it seems harsh, but let's be honest here. Torman Maxt is a band that seems to copy older, better bands way too often, and expects their listeners to temporarily forget while listening to Problem Of Pain that there have already been albums in the past that begins with a track titled ''Overture'', or that we've already lived through the days of the 'epic' prog record. No. This will not do. It's unoriginal, predictable music, and the farthest thing possible from anything remotely 'progressive'.

The best part of the album is the first minute-and-a-half of ''The Angel's Second Song,'' which also happens to be one of the few times when none of the actual instruments are being played. My own personal trial of endurance, I guess.

JLocke | 1/5 |


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