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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 If ever there was a band/album that has garnered a level of infamy on the forums here that can be best described s stratospheric the it will be this, Torman Maxt's The Problem of Pain Part 1. Anyone interested in the controversy itself should read the interesting interview in the forums, and we'll leave it at that. So yes, its another 1 star review for this album, and I'm making the unusual decision to review it after a single listen, something I have never done before, because I will never listen to it again after this, and I'll explain the specific reason for that later.

I must admit, I downloaded this album (the bands first three albums are available for free download from the bands website) to find out if its every bit aas bad as the other reviews have made it out to be. Confusingly, the answer is both yes and no.

Despite the fact that the band is listed as a Progressive Metal group,the only songs on here that I would list as metal at all are Satan's First & Second Song, the rest of the album is heavy rock inspired primarily by early Rush with hints of Led Zepplin and Balck Sabbath thrown in the mix as well. Note that I said "heavy rock", prog this album isnt. The compositions are all fairly simple, repetative and show little development through the short songs, worse still many of the early melodies make a return later in the album, not that the melodies in between were that different from the first few anyway. And that right there is the albums biggest problem musically, there is not enough variation between the songs for me to keep my interest after only the first couple of tracks. That said, as a conceptual piece based on the Old Testaments Book of Job it maintains a certain flow that binds the album together in one cohesive whole with only a few minor parts feeling out of place.

As far as the musicanship goes, its a bit of a mixed bag. Tony Massaro's lead guitar lines tend to be pretty good, and some of his solo's are tasty enough, but his rhythm guitar work leaves a fair amount to be desired, like he's just switched off his playing when its the main melody his working on, but the counterpoint shows that this man isnt without talent. This also might explain why the melodies are repetative and, well, dull as Tony is the main writter of music here. I'm also used to distinctive and unusual vocals from the likes of The Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler Zavala and Pavlov's Dog's David Surkamp so Tony's vocals dont bother me in the slightest for their general high register and in fact I'd go as far as saying that he has quite a pleseant voice, though his style and delivery could use a bit of work in my opinion.

Its the other two Massaro brothers, Dominic and Vincent, that are the problem here. Dominic's bass playing is rather simplistic, holding the bare minimum of the rhythm and completely ignoring the versatility of the instrument. As a bass player it's something I pay a lot of attention too and its not helped by being lost in the mix, not that there's a whole lot to hear anyway. Worse still, Domonic's keyboards are completely unnecessary, adding absolutely nothing to the compositions. The last track, A Great Silence, should have been 2 minutes shorter at least, with the final soundscape being taked on, and thats just an example from one song, all the keyboards are taked on with little point.

Vincent's drumming has come in for a lot of flack, and the reasons are obvious. First, it sounds like he was recorded on an old 8 track, the quality of sound of the drums stands out as being vaastly inferior to that of the bass, keyboards, guitars and vocals. As for his drumming itself, for the most part he's rather pedestrian but the occasional fill does grab my attention, but its all rather masked by the poor production, and the production defecit on the drums is rather strange as the rest of the album is not at all bad. With one exception though. The instrumental track Job's Contemplation is completely out of tune and should have been done away with as its grating on the ears.

But, aboe all this,there is one reason why I will never listen to this album again, the lyrics. As previously stated its a concept album based on the Old Testemants Book of Job. Now, I've come across religious lyrics from lenty of bands before where they have been done pretty well, Transatlantics The Whirlwind being the most recent example I can think of, and I've liked the album/song overall, but here its a different matter. This is preachy in the extreme, and worse still just hearing The Angels Song (either of them) makes me cringe. I am an agnostic, but with a serious dislike of organised religion and so this not only fails to appeal but I actively dispise (no, not too strong a word) the hamfisted and overly preachy approach. Ironic, given that the music doenst elicit any kind of emotional response at all.

On the day I listened to this for the first time I got the Birds and Buildings album Bantam to Behemoth and listened to pair of them back to back, the difference in quality in all areas between Dan Britton's jazz-Rock project, one of the best albums of 2008, and this was startaling. Overall the music is not to bad with lead man Tony Massaro demonstrating a level of skill that sugest with a better rhythm section this band could be much better. Based on the music alone I would give this album 2 stars, maybe pushed up to 2.5. However, because of the lyrics I hate this album and I can guarante I will never listen to it again but for people that don't mind the overly religious lyrics they might get a lot more out of this than I have, so 1 star, and congratulations for being the first album that I've awarded one to.

sleeper | 1/5 |


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