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    Posted: October 16 2010 at 15:08


Torman Maxt has become one of the more vilified bands in our database. A quick look at the reviews part of their PA profile will tell you what I am referring too. Yes, I also gave that album a 1 star review. A review the band has both read and is fully aware of.    

Torman Maxt has just released a new album and that is for me an opportunity to interview the band and get their story. I guess Torman Maxt may cause some high blood pressure with some of the opinions raised in this interview. I always encourage my interview objects to be brutally forthright in voicing their opinions in interviews for ProgArchives. Please keep this in mind when you read on.  

Without further ado, I give you this interview with Tony Massaro in Torman Maxt. 

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Your biography in ProgArchives is very extensive so I refer everyone to the PA profile. But just to start with; please give us your long or brief afterthoughts on......




Just Talking About The Universe... So Far from 1994

We recorded it on traditional 24 track and had limited time to mix it. I still really like the album, but there are a few items I would love to touch up. Lyrically, it is a brief introduction to our Christian faith, but in a very indirect manner. My favorite track is Summer; I am very proud of the guitar and vocal layering on that song.



The Foolishness of God from 2001

After our vocalist for the first album left the band in 1997, I decided to take over singing duties. I had written all of the vocal melodies for Just Talking About the Universe…So Far, so it was a natural evolution. The title “The Foolishness of God” is taken from the New Testament, where the apostle Paul states:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:   "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

I had heard a sermon years ago with the same title and decided to incorporate the actual sermon into the track, using excerpts of the speaker, Dr. Walter Martin’s message. Lyrically, the album is a defense of the Christian faith and echoes the words of the Bible that “the fool in his heart says there is no God.” But if one looks closely at the structure of the songs, they would find that the tracks preceding the songs with the strong outward message are actually “from the inside” and speak of personal inner struggles and vanity. Thus, there is an attempt to lyrically “pull the plank out of my own eye” before worrying about the speck of dust in another person’s.

There was less acoustic guitar work but quite a bit more of guitar layering and textures. City of Man is my favorite track on the album both lyrically and musically.



The Problem Of Pain: Part 1 from 2007

From the first time I heard Rush 2112 I had always dreamed of writing and recording a concept album. I just never felt like I had a story. Then during the recording of The Foolishness of God, the idea of retelling the story of Job from the Old Testament came along. The album had about twenty tracks and was about 84 minutes long, so we decided to split it into two parts; somewhat of a takeoff of the idea of the Lord of the Rings movies, where you knew before the movie started, that there would be a continuation.

Writing music that tells a story can be a challenge insofar that the music must follow the story and the tone and timbre of the music is determined by the nature of the subject. I absolutely love the album and musically, and feel like it faithfully tells the story from the Bible.



Your brand new album The Problem Of Pain: Part 2

Obviously, it is the continuation of Part 1, and the songs were written in the same general time period, so it has the same feel. So the thought for developing the songs and recordings was twofold: first, it had to sound like the previous album for it to be a cohesive package but secondly, as with all of our other albums, there needed to be a step up in production, playing and overall arrangement and composition. I think this album achieves both. There are some darker keyboards on the album as well as some guitar work using the e-bow. Also, this album has the most lead guitar work of any of our albums.

There has been some breaks in your release schedule. What happened between the albums ?

I am an architect by profession, and I own my own business and have a wife and three children. Additionally, I am active in our church life, so there is only a limited amount of time to write, record and produce music. So, of the four most important things in my life, the order of importance is: God, family, work (because it supports my family) and then music. However, I feel with what I lack in time I make up with persistence and diligence. Parts 1 and 2 of The Problem of Pain took thirteen years to write and record.

The first three albums are now free downloads. I guess the web hosting of your website is not free. How is the Torman Maxt business model and how do you earn a living ?

As I mentioned in the previous question, I am an architect by profession. While I had always hoped and dreamed I would make a living as a musician, it just hasn’t worked out that way. What’s interesting is, however, that I am paid to design buildings; thus, I must design buildings that meet the client’s needs, and not my own personal preferences. They are paying the bill, so they get to call the shots. So when it comes to writing music, because money is not a part of the equation, there is total freedom of expression. I quite like it that way.

The joy I receive from people who have downloaded our music and have really been inspired or blessed by the music we make outweighs any amount of money I could ever get. What’s also great to know is that I get emails from people in countries where they can’t access music as easily, or they don’t have the money to pay for it, but are very grateful for someone making their music available at no cost.
With that said, we have agreed with our record company and its distributors, that we will be charging for the new album for a set time period to recoup some of the production and manufacturing costs. However, if someone doesn’t have the cash and sends an email, we will gladly send them a free copy.

Your lyrics has a Christians theme. Are you targeting the Christian market or the secular markets with your music ?

Interesting question. When one approaches writing music as a business endeavor, then it is prudent to determine who the audience is and what to do to successfully market the product in order to sell the music. By definition, that is what makes the music business a ‘business.’ That line of thinking does not enter my mind any more. When you are not worried about money, then you don’t need to worry about how many albums you sell !

My paradigm is this: I have a vision of what the music I write needs to sound like and how to get there. Additionally, I have a vision of what I want to communicate both musically and lyrically. I feel like I am being the artist that God made me to be. I desire to write the best music I can possibly write, using the gifts He has given me to the best of my ability. I want the music to reflect God’s truth, order and beauty.
So I would ultimately say that I am “targeting” pleasing God with my music, first and foremost.

How would you describe your music and who would you compare yourself with ?

One of the technical definitions of ‘progressive’ is: “characterized by striving for change or innovation; moving and advancing.” For me, what makes something ‘progressive’ musically is when an artist, either through composition or production, is trying to move towards new ideas and methods. Any style of music can have a progressive element to it. Torman Maxt takes normal hard rock / metal music and advances it forward with more sophisticated arrangements, layering, counterpoint, and harmonies.

Most importantly, I think ‘progressive’, like the definition I gave above, should be an adjective and not a noun. Progressive as an adjective, describes the music, and makes for artists striving for something new and interesting.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience that many Prog fans use “Progressive” as a noun. Thus, there is now a criteria for what Prog music should be. That criteria usually includes long songs, lots of solos, and lots of time signature changes. It reminds me of the term “Alternative Music.” By the mid 1990’s “Alternative Music” was the main stream and wasn’t an alternative to anything! Unfortunately for me, I hear a great deal of un-progressive “Progressive Music.”

I would describe Torman Maxt as a blend of Black Sabbath, Rush, Iron Maiden and King’s X.

You were the ProgArchives artist of May 2008. Which I guess is not the same as being the Fishing Lure of the Month in the Bass Angler Magazine. How was this experience for you ?

Hmmmmmm….good question. Let me start by saying, in a million years, I never expected Torman Maxt to be such a divisive band !

OK, here are some background facts. Max from ProgArchives approached Torman Maxt with the opportunity to be ProgArchives artist of the month. He explained to me that is was a paid spot and they were trying to feature bands that were both quality and wanted to advertise their music on ProgArchives. It was to be a win for both the band and ProgArchives. The band gets a good advertising spot and ProgArchives raise some cash in the process. 

Interestingly enough, at that time, someone wrote a very strange, very anti-religious review of our album that had little to do with the music and more of a slam of Christianity. I mentioned this to Max and asked him what the policy for ‘nonsensical’ reviews were. He read it and agreed that it was rather offensive as well as not really ProgArchives material. Max immediately pulled the review and then mentioned that that particular reviewer had been problematic for a while. (Incidentally, I ended up making contact with that reviewer and I feel like we worked things out). So that prompted a discussion about that, because we were paying for the advertising, that for the month of May only, that ProgArchives would hold off on posting negative reviews. This was ONLY for the month of May that we were paying for.
Come June 1st, he could post any and all reviews no matter what the content and when it was written. The line of thinking was similar to a movie studio buying an ad in a newspaper and using reviews or quotes that are favorable. This seemed like a reasonable idea to me. Our manager agreed it was a reasonable request and so did ProgArchives. I didn’t give it much thought after that….

Well, the spurned reviewer got on the forum, emailed me and everyone he could think of to start denigrating me and Torman Maxt. This started quite the hullaballo on ProgArchives and thus came a string of unbelievably bad reviews. I think if a score of negative one was possible, we would have got that! I never bothered to respond. Even Max from ProgArchives took a beating.

Here is some food for thought, however. Prior to the ProgArchives debacle, the reviews for Problem of Pain Part 1 were quite stellar:
8/10 from the Dutch Progressive Rock Page.
4/5 from Ytsejam.com
5/5 from the Progfiles.com
5/6 from Progressor.com

8/10 from Classic Rock Magazine...we were the highest rated prog band
for November 2007 and even had our photo printed in one of the UK's
largest publications!
   
Here is a quote from Prognosis:
"The Problem of Pain: Part 1 is a classy and well written album. I recommend you check out some music samples at the band's Myspace.com page. You may be impressed by what you hear."

Here is a quote from Sea of Tranquility Prog review site:
"...here's a certain AOR element that can't be ignored, giving some of these songs a real radio
friendly appeal, especially thanks to the Beatles-influenced vocal harmonies. Otherwise, expect plenty of tasty guitar licks (that include crunchy riffs & melodic leads), sumptuous keyboards, tight
rhythms, and melodic vocals."

So, it is clear, the facts bear it out, that Torman Maxt is not an untalented, amateurish band. I have played guitar for 30 years and have studied music theory and counterpoint. There are many passages in the album that are extremely sophisticated. Some sections have five and six instruments playing separate parts simultaneously. The first six songs barely have a repeated part.

We got two separate 8.7/10 reviews from Ultimate Guitar.com. This is what they think of Torman Maxt:
It's hard to compare something that seems so new, and so fresh, and so different to some other album or some other artist. You can't just compare a brilliantly made album. Job's First Song and Job's Resolve is probably my most favorite songs from the album, and I continue to listen to them. I love the fact these guys wanted to try something different, and they achieved a great sound.

So why the consistent 1 out of 5 reviews on ProgArchives? If these reviewers were Olympic judges for gymnastics or figure skating, they would get flagged and dismissed immediately as judges who have an agenda that goes far beyond what they are supposed to be judging and their scores don’t reflect the reality of the performance. Now, I don't expect everyone to like us; but to present Torman Maxt as a 1 out of 5 just clearly shows that there is far more than musical critique happening here...

I think the reviews come from two directions, both having to do with subjective feelings and not objective ones. The first is a simple reaction to having ProgArchives hold off on negative reviews for the month of May. Many people felt their free speech was being tampered with. The second reason for the bad reviews is the negative reaction to the spirit carried by the music.
I firmly believe that music is a “carrier of spirit” and as the ProgArchives reviewers have tried so hard to discredit Torman Maxt, what they don’t realize they have done actually validates what we have tried to accomplish! It is honoring to me that our music has caused such a strong reaction. That means the spirit I was hoping to convey is very present in the music. It is to be expected that the spirit of Jesus is offensive to many. That comes as no surprise. Torman Maxt is not a group of amateurish musicians and songwriters and many good ears have validated the skill of the band so that is not what is causing the negativity here. Too many qualified and sophisticated listeners have acknowledged the quality of the music.  

But in the end, everyone is entitled to their opinion. A wise man once told me that sometimes ProgArchives gets it right and sometimes they get it wrong.
If I could make a suggestion to anyone at ProgArchives about the review system I would have them look at Progression Magazine. They have four categories: Sound, Composition, Musicianship, and Performance. Each of the categories is rated one to four and the maximum score is 16. I think this is a better way to break an album down numerically.

Just to find out some more about you, please give us your opinions on........

Progressive rock.

As I mentioned above. For me, Progressive should be an adjective and not a noun.

Record labels

Record labels are in business to sell music. By definition they make decisions based upon what is most beneficial to their business. This is not always what is best for the artist or musician. It has been fascinating to see the whole industry turned upside down in the past few years. I like to compare the music industry with the airline industry. The price for a cross country flight from Miami to Los Angeles has been around the low $300 range for twenty five years. How can that be when the average car has gone up by ten times in the same time period? It seems that the market corrected the over pricing of airline tickets. I think our current technology is correcting the overpricing of music.

Music festivals

Lots of energy and synergy. I think they make great events.

Your Christian beliefs
 
These are my Christian beliefs:

The Bible [all the books of the Old and New Testaments] is the true written message of God to us. I believe the authors of the Bible were inspired by God and are therefore completely trustworthy. The Bible is the final authority on all matters to which it speaks.

There is one God, who exists forever in perfect community as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God. He is the perfect reflection of God’s character and glory. He lived a sinless life and offered himself as the only perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on the cross. All who believe in Him are declared righteous on the basis of His death. He rose physically from the dead and will return again to earth to reign forever with those who are His.

Humans are created in the image of God, but each one has fallen short of God’s perfect standard and is in need of salvation.

Salvation from our sinful condition is a free gift from God to us. It is not something we earn or deserve. It is offered in grace and received by faith in Jesus Christ alone. those who believe in Jesus Christ and call on His name are made right with God and given eternal life.

The American culture


I love being an American. If you look at the history of this country, and how many people came here for religious freedom and a new start, you can get a general feel for the DNA of a people who love freedom and seeking out opportunity. Americans are fiercely practical and pragmatic, and I like that. However, I believe we are in a moral decline and that is due to our turning away from God.

Barack Obama vs. Sarah Palin

In America we vote for representatives to govern us who “represent” our values and beliefs as voters. In that aspect, Sarah Palin shares more of my values than Barack Obama. I think Obama made a great presentation of himself during his campaign and made some very impressive speeches, but ultimately, I strongly disagree with many of his policies and values. With that said, even though Sarah Palin more closely represents my views, I am not sure she is the best candidate for president that represents my views.

The Vietnam war vs. the Iraq & Afganistan war

Interesting question. Answering this one is like doing a review of an album without really closely listening to it and not downloading the lyrics…it makes for an unimpressive and uninformed presentation. In general, I don’t feel like I have enough good facts to make a qualified answer; however I think they are three separate wars and not easy to compare. The big question is, does one think a pre-emptive war overseas to prevent a disaster at home is a justifiable war?

Florida vs California

Lots of beaches in both states! Actually, they do have something very similar in common. They both are transient states. People tend to move there from somewhere else. People tend to move to Florida for the warm weather, especially senior citizens, to retire and slow down. California is quite different. People tend to move there for opportunity and to make things happen in their life. The music and movie industry epicenters are there. What is interesting is that growing up in Florida, for me, California had quite a mystique. I think California still is representative of the idea of “going West” to seek fortune and opportunity. The Europeans did it 500 years ago and I still think it happens here in America today. I have lived here for 23 years and love it.

After these rather untraditional – and very nerdy- questions; what is your plans for the rest of this year and next year ?

I plan on promoting Problem of Pain Part 2 and to start writing more music. I am also very involved in my church life and my wife and I, with some others, help run an outreach here in Costa Mesa that provides meals and showers for homeless people. I lead a bible study there once a week.

Anything you want to add to this interview ?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions!! Readers can go to our homepage and here four tracks from the new album.



Thank you to Tony for this interview

Their PA profile is here and their homepage is here
 
Admin edit relates only to font standardisation

   



Edited by Easy Livin - October 18 2010 at 03:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Quiet One Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 16 2010 at 16:04
I still haven't listened to any of their stuff, but I'm well aware of who they are and that's why I read the interview. I found it very interesting, I didn't even know about that incident of 2008, though I did know about the reviews. Knowing much of the reviewers who reviewed that album, I really couldn't disagree more about what he thinks of us, reviewers, but still it's great he was sincere.
 
Thanks for the interview Torodd!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Finnforest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 16 2010 at 18:07
Interesting stuff Torodd.  I'm not familiar with TM music, but the guy came across as a thoughtful person and a gentlemen.  His only problem is that, as Pablo mentions, the reviewers in question are also thoughtful gentlemen and good guys.  It will be interesting to see how our metal-heads take to the new album, now that the controversies have died out.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 16 2010 at 18:35
As for those reviews, I do believe that at least some can be put in the category "territorial defence". The musicianship of the album in question is undeniable. The technical aspects of it - mix and production - may be more questionable. Compositionally on a level above average, but how well the themes and motifs are crafted and executed is another thing entirely.

Bottom line on th end result here as on all other productions is that it boils down to personal taste. The added dimension in this case is that many felt that the band had invaded their private property (so to speak) which did cause some folks to loose their sense of objectivity on the matter. Emotions and emotional responses do colour people, no matter how intelligent and objectively inclined they may be on other issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Easy Livin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 09:48
Very interesting interview, and good timing now the dust has had time to settle.
 
I think a lot was learned from the 2008 debacle on both sides. From the band's point of view, offering an album for free doesn't mean everyone will automatically like it, indeed it is possible it will attract more adverse comment as the freeloaders investigate it.
 
Not sure I'm convinced though by the attempt in the interview to prove that people got it wrong here.
From the site's point of view, I think some of the reviews and comments were offensive rather than constructively critical. I also believe a mob mentality developed. Anyway, old ground now, and an interesting interview anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote J-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 10:38
Nice interview, Torodd!

Tony seems like a nice guy, even though I completely disagree with his stance on the reviewers here. I wasn't even a member of this website when all the controversy happened, yet I gave it 1 star. I rate based on how much I like the music, not on how popular the album is. I know many of the other reviewers who gave 1 and 2 star reviews, and they feel the same way...

Just sayin'.... Ermm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan_Melgar_M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 11:28
A good interviewer is the person that causes a strong reaction in the interviewed forcing him/her, to say what otherwise would had kept hidden. 

Torod did an outstanding job,. but I honestly can't accept this paragraph:

Quote So why the consistent 1 out of 5 reviews on ProgArchives? If these reviewers were Olympic judges for gymnastics or figure skating, they would get flagged and dismissed immediately as judges who have an agenda that goes far beyond what they are supposed to be judging and their scores don’t reflect the reality of the performance. Now, I don't expect everyone to like us; but to present Torman Maxt as a 1 out of 5 just clearly shows that there is far more than musical critique happening here

This is offensive IMO.

Most of the members of PA would never let an agenda interfere with an honest rating, and in this case the ratings are constant...It's not 1 or 2 one stars reviews

Out of 15 collaborators reviews, we have:

- 9 one star reviews.
- 5 two stars reviews
- 1 four stars reviews

This is not casual, the album has to be bad o at least bellow the average, but it was worst to force [email protected] to delete the 1 stars reviews, I believe no artist has ever done this.

In my case I find terrible vocals, less than average guitar and drums and absolute lack of versatility, so I gave 1 star because I believe that's what the album deserved, and no, I don't have any agenda.

If you want a review with agenda, read this one http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=168905 by, a guy named DaleJuday ( http://www.progarchives.com/Collaborators.asp?id=19413 ) who joined PA in order to review this album, raise the average and then vanished.

The only review with a clear agenda that I read is the above mentioned.

Iván

 






            
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 13:56
I heard the album a few times and never found the elevated "musicianship" Olav talks about. It's obvious he and I have different musical concepts. As for "territorial defence" I'm quite sure everybody who gave the album a bad review listened to it first. I know I did and still think is a piece of crap, the guy's religious beliefs and his infamous situation with PA nothwithstanding. If my review is too much "territorial defence" and if I can't grasp his "undeniable musicianship" then I'm a f**king fool for daring to criticize the master. I'll be glad to have that and all my other reviews deleted offthe database since I don't egen care about that part of my business here anymore. I come to PA only for the forum and to talk with people. I did my share of contributions in the past adding and reviewing bands but I prefer now to leave this one the hands of those who know about "undeniable musicianship". I don't even consider myself a "prog fan" anymore. I'm a music fan who likes SOME progressive rock and I don't really give a damn what the prog community thinks of what I sincerely wrote a while ago.

And that album is, anyway, crap. Unoriginal, poorly played music. I wonder who is the one with second agendas and trying to "defend their territory" here...

That the Maxt guy attacks people who reviewed his album I can understand. But people in PA really disappoint me...


Edited by The T - October 17 2010 at 13:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 14:35
Musicianship - as in knowing how to play an instrument - doesn't mean that the people doing just that are able to make good music. Some of the criticism aimed at the band was that they didn't master the very core skill of using their instruments. And as far as I'm concerned, these guys are above average in that particular field.

If they are able to use it to make good music or interesting music is another matter entirely. That they are skilled musicians, and that their tunes contain some rather complex arrangements, are facts. If the end result is good or not, if the compositions are good creations overall, if the motifs are well enough developed and put into a pleasing context, are all aspects determined by taste and perception.

I felt they succeeded, others did not. That's all fair and square. That this case still leads to emotional outbursts says quite a lot about the size of the storm within this particular bottle of water was.
Websites I work with:

http://www.progressor.net
http://www.houseofprog.com
http://framemusic.net/

My profile on Mixcloud:
https://www.mixcloud.com/haukevind/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 15:15
If the guy in that band knows how to play drums... I guess we'll have to re-assess what "knowing how to play an instrument" means...

Whatever... You can enjoy your site...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote J-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 15:40
Originally posted by Windhawk Windhawk wrote:

Musicianship - as in knowing how to play an instrument - doesn't mean that the people doing just that are able to make good music. Some of the criticism aimed at the band was that they didn't master the very core skill of using their instruments. And as far as I'm concerned, these guys are above average in that particular field.

If they are able to use it to make good music or interesting music is another matter entirely. That they are skilled musicians, and that their tunes contain some rather complex arrangements, are facts. If the end result is good or not, if the compositions are good creations overall, if the motifs are well enough developed and put into a pleasing context, are all aspects determined by taste and perception.

I felt they succeeded, others did not. That's all fair and square. That this case still leads to emotional outbursts says quite a lot about the size of the storm within this particular bottle of water was.


But how would you define "average"? Yes, the guys in Torman Maxt know how to play, but in reality, I've been playing drums for a few months, and I can keep up with the guy in that band. There are so many prog albums that come out each year, and almost all of them have at least decent musicianship. I hesitate in saying that about Torman Maxt.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 15:51
I can't remember exactly the drums on that one now, it's been a few years and a heck of a lot of albums between then and now. If my recollection is correct the main arrangements were centred around the guitars and to some extent the vocals on this one, with the rhythms basically used to provide a steady foundation.

As for above average, that the album contains passages that more musicians would fail at than master, and again if memory serves me right with the guitars as the most impressive.

But this is more of a side issue - my main gripe was some of the people who slaughtered this album heralding the notion that these guys basically couldn't play, that they failed at the very basics of the music profession. That they may not impress with their skill level is a totally different matter than stating that they don't have any skill at all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan_Melgar_M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:19
Originally posted by J-Man J-Man wrote:



But how would you define "average"? Yes, the guys in Torman Maxt know how to play, but in reality, I've been playing drums for a few months, and I can keep up with the guy in that band. There are so many prog albums that come out each year, and almost all of them have at least decent musicianship. I hesitate in saying that about Torman Maxt.

I agree with you, I played drums for years, so I listen this instrument with special attention, and I must say that the drummer is far bellow the average, specially  in "Job's Initial Shock", "Job's Second Response" and "Job's Wife" where IMHO sounds horrible.

But the weakest point is in the vocals, simply horrendous.

The rest of the instrument sound pretty well, good for a pub band.

Now, about we having an agenda, the only ones who have an agenda are Torman Maxt, being that it's a Christian band, with the purpose of spreading a religious message...Don't imply this is wrong "per se" (even when I believe religion is for the church, not for rock stages), but this is an agenda, so it's a paradox that in the interview they mention we have one.

BTW: .I'm not anti Christian, as a fact I'm a Christian, but everything has a place IMO.

Iván




            
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:30
Hmmm, I'm rather picky on vocals myself, but didn't get negative vibes about them in this case.
I'll check them with my better half the coming week - an advantage of being married to someone who used to be a member of a national baptist choir trained by the arguably most renowned choir director in Norway is that I can get a more than halfway decent opinion on technical vocal performance.

Listening through the samples we have here my main finding is that the mix and production leaves quite a bit to be desired.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan_Melgar_M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:42

One of the advantages of having studied music for several years.and having been raised by a musiciabn  with full certification of the Lima Conservatory (my mother), who taught me to listen music,  is that I can personally give an opinion about the performances.

But I believe that the only things we need to appreciate what is good and what  not, is two ears. LOL The educated or uneducated can appreciate music equally.

The voice is extremely acute, with no variations, IMHO an unpleasant sound, and the choirs sound like absolutely dissonant (not in the good sense) with the main singer.

Of course the bad production doesn't help, but Nursery Cryme's production sucks and the album is outstanding.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote J-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:45
Originally posted by Ivan_Melgar_M Ivan_Melgar_M wrote:

Originally posted by J-Man J-Man wrote:



But how would you define "average"? Yes, the guys in Torman Maxt know how to play, but in reality, I've been playing drums for a few months, and I can keep up with the guy in that band. There are so many prog albums that come out each year, and almost all of them have at least decent musicianship. I hesitate in saying that about Torman Maxt.

I agree with you, I played drums for years, so I listen this instrument with special attention, and I must say that the drummer is far bellow the average, specially  in "Job's Initial Shock", "Job's Second Response" and "Job's Wife" where IMHO sounds horrible.

But the weakest point is in the vocals, simply horrendous.

The rest of the instrument sound pretty well, good for a pub band.

Now, about we having an agenda, the only ones who have an agenda are Torman Maxt, being that it's a Christian band, with the purpose of spreading a religious message...Don't imply this is wrong "per se" (even when I believe religion is for the church, not for rock stages), but this is an agenda, so it's a paradox that in the interview they mention we have one.

BTW: .I'm not anti Christian, as a fact I'm a Christian, but everything has a place IMO.

Iván


I actually wasn't impressed by the guitar work either... I found it really sloppy, and it even occasionally sounded way out of tune. As a whole, the album is simply not good IMO, and that's justified in my review. Tony's bad comments towards the PA reviewers are pretty ridiculous... It's an album that I absolutely dislike, and that has nothing to do with what other people think.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:54
I'm actually generally more critical than my wife on vocals, if the lead vocalist is more than a quarter of a note out of tune I find that the vocals grate. Not that I can listen and say that this is what is happening, it's that bit I need my wife for. I can merely listen and sense that this isn't working at all, she can explain why ;-)

The backing vocals is a curious setup on this album, by accident or design functioning as separate melodic textures rather than following the lead vocals or the dominating motifs. Probably one of the dimensions of this production that makes the opinions on it as diverse as they are - disregarding the internal issues on PA. Very much an acquired taste.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote J-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:56
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If I could make a suggestion to anyone at ProgArchives about the review system I would have them look at Progression Magazine. They have four categories: Sound, Composition, Musicianship, and Performance. Each of the categories is rated one to four and the maximum score is 16. I think this is a better way to break an album down numerically.


This section honestly almost made me laugh... He criticizes our rating system - as if that's the reason why I don't like the album! LOL If I were to rate TPoP1 using this scale, it would look like this:

Sound: 1/4
Composition: 1/4
Musicianship: 1/4
Performance: 1/4

Thus, my rating would be 4/16, which equates to even less than my 1.5/5 review on ProgArchives. The problem isn't the rating system - the problem is the album.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 16:59
I didn't find the album amazingly bad or amazing anything, unless it's quite amazingly lackluster.  I didn't review it but genuinely found it sub PA par (based on the music I know in PA) The guitarist is technically capable enough, but he doesn't hold my interest (I find the playing dull).  The drummer I find poor.  The vocals and vocal harmonies I don't find successful. It sound quite derivative to me and very boring -- unimaginative to my ears. If it had been a "so bad it's good" album, I would've liked it more. Neither the compositions nor the performance is anything special to me. I agree far more with the low ratings than the essential and masterpiece ratings. Those very limited reviews at the mentioned sites don't prove any inherent quality to the music. One was written by Hashman who also gave it a four here, but I can't say how objective he is (he is involved in promotion). I actually don't really trust any of the sites even listed, let alone those individual reviewers.  If it had a few positive reviewers at each site, then I would trust it more. I noticed that "Progressor" gave two of TM's earlier albums a four, and I didn't find Pain reviewed there, but I don't know why I should trust him. If you had good reviews at Ground & Sky, that would mean more to me since I do trust that site for reviews more than most others (including PA).

I find it less than average when it comes to albums I know that are included in PA.  And when we're talking average, that's what we compare it to (those prog umbrella albums we know). I find the album amateurish.  I don't mind poor production values as I can really appreciate raw live albums (barely mixed and released in poor audio quality).

There certainly was a backlash against Torman Maxt and the whole scheme (especially after, as I recall, King By-Tor's review was removed).  I think that really glowing review from the one time poster (a publicist? a friend?) didn't help since it looked like a very disingenuous PR job.  I know I sometimes get more critical when I see such overly effusive stuff written by people who only come here because of a recent addition to prop it up.

I guess [email protected] liked the album or he wouldn't have chosen Torman Maxt to be the first "featured artist".  I mean, especially for the first, I would think he would have wanted to be very careful, use quality control, in soliciting a band, otherwise the experiment could epically fail.

EDIT: Anyway, even though i find the album tasteless (bland), and even if I thought it better executed I don't think it would be to my tastes, hopefully some others will discover the band thanks to the interview and enjoy it. To each his or own tastes. If the band appreciates making music and is pleased with the final product, well, cool.  That matters more than what reviewers think, especially as it's not a particularly commercial venture. I'm sure there would be quite a few people out there who would genuinely appreciate the album. Rateyourmusic has some good ratings for it: http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/torman_maxt/the_problem_of_pain__part_1/

Just noticed something.  Nightmare Records is selling the album and copied Hashman's review to describe it (the one he used at PA and Ytse jam). http://nightmarerecords.com/NMR/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=427&category_id=3&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=6 It may be that Hashman is involved with the record company, might have prepared it himself, as I know he is involved with promotion and stuff, but maybe they borrowed it without his permission (is uncredited).


Edited by Logan - October 17 2010 at 17:58
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views" (Doctor Who - The Face of Evil, Jan 22, 1977).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windhawk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 17 2010 at 17:59
Progressor - aka Vitaly Menshikov, is an accomplished musician himself. He's been playing in various bands for close to three decades if I recall correctly. And an avid fan of avantgarde music and technically challenging material. Cuneiform Records is a label he holds in very high esteem, if that tells you anything.

I googled TM myself now, and I think it is fair to say that PA's reviewers has given this album a much more hostile reception than most other sites. One of the more interesting descriptions I found was on the blog of Dave Ling, a guy who's been working with reviews as a profession since the early 1980's. His take:

 "Also received 'The Problem Of Pain, Pt 1', a fascinating album from Torman Maxt, a pomp-prog Christian quartet from California that remind me of a heavied-up Starcastle, though who are most often compared to Rush, Dream Theater, Gentle Giant, Queensrÿche and, of course, Yes. Its ponderous lyrics are based on The Old Testament's Book Of Job, questioning why God allows so much evil and human suffering on Earth, but don't let that put you off - the music is wondrous."

Indeed, few of the sites that do regular reviews of CDs seems to put the CD down on an extensive level. That DPRP made it a recommended album may not be that surprising, but that The Metal Observer sung it's praises is much more so.

One of the few negative ones I've come across (from this site) goes like this:

----

OK, so I've been procrastinating on reviewing or even listening to this album because, honestly, I have a problem with religious music. It just bugs me, something about it. I'm not religious myself and I don't have a problem with anyone's religion (except when it's shoved in my face) to each their own, I say. But when I hear religious music it just irks me. Especially Christian metal, every time I think of Christian metal, friggin Stryper is the first band to pop into the old skull. Gahhh..I hate those a-holes.... But I digress...where was I? Oh yes, so when I got Torman Maxt's album, I immediately put in the “to do later” pile. I knew I was going to have to be unbiased and just focus on the music.

So I was pleasantly impressed with the strong direction of hard rock, metal, and progressive rock that Torman Maxt were heading towards. Fans of Rush, Dream Theater, and Queensryche would probably feel right at home listening to this. They are talented musicians that hold an ability to put together compositions that are unpredictable which can be heard in tracks such as “Job's Wife” and “A Great Silence”. Unfortunately, they loose that later on down the album and decide to play it a little more safe. “Angel's Song”, “Job's Song”, and one of their instrumental track's, “Job's Contemplation” are not really anything more than average. There's nothing unique that makes me want to take a second listen.

Plus, I'm sorry guys, but if you're going to be a progressive rock band your songs to last longer than a couple of minutes. That's just the way it is. I think only three out of their thirteen tracks lasted longer than four minutes. “Job's Commitment” lasted maybe two minutes and “Job's Initial Shock” clocked in at just under two. That really doesn't give you enough time to gain any interest in either of these songs.

The musical ability of this band goes without question. Vocalist Tony Massaro has a clean, melodic voice that is suited perfectly for these guys and also showcases his guitar-playing abilities on some of the heavier instrumental tracks such as “Satan's First Song”. Drummer, Vincent Massaro, has a great technical style and helps fill out the rhythm section. All of this should've been emphasized a lot more on this album and unfortunately it wasn't.

I don't really have anything to compare this to but like I said before if you're a fan of Dream Theater, Queensryche or Rush you would probably dig this. It's a good album, not a great one though and not anything that swept me off my feet.

Rating: 2/5

---------------------

Some sites gives it a halfway positive reception, a fair few 6/10 rating around, but few of the review sites actually put it down. As such, my conclusion is that this is an album that appeals to many that does an  extended amount of reviewing. Given the negative ratings on this site, I'm more than a bit surprised about the lack of slaughtering reviews to be found elsewhere on the net. This place and RYM basically has most of them.

Out of sheer curiosity I'd like to see some reviews made by pro's and semi-pro's that takes a critical stance towards this effort by now. The results of my 2 hour google trek on finding reviews of this album most certainly does put PA in a strange light, and I'd love to see critical assessments done by others, basically. What I have come up with does substantiate the band's reaction - their CD has generally been positively received most other places - and from their point of view it would look like this place has an agenda against them.

So - please find links to other negative reviews on the net, so that I can at least balance out the impression my search trek has given me. Analytical ones by preference, and ones written by musicians and veterans in the music biz would be a bonus.
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