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Torman Maxt - Just Talking About The Universe... So Far CD (album) cover

JUST TALKING ABOUT THE UNIVERSE... SO FAR

Torman Maxt

 

Progressive Metal

1.42 | 5 ratings

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JLocke
Prog Reviewer
1 stars I'll be frank: I'm sick of music like this. I'm sick of modern bands trying to replicate old music and regurgitate it as if it's something new. It simply isn't. I'm also sick of the 'epic' attitudes taken towards the composition of the songs. Every track doesn't need to feel like the next 'Close to the Edge', yet time and again I run into bands (particularly in the Prog Metal sub-genre) that aim so high so often, and it results in a large amount of pretentious cheese and little substance in the way of actual music or memorability (in this album's case, such a musical direction is even harder to digest because every song is an epic in its attitude, yet no track goes past the five minute mark). Granted, this album first came out when I was a child, so this release in particular may not fit under my 'modern' description, but the same band is still making music today, and I 'm quite honestly not looking forward to hearing the rest of the material. But I've decided that I will do so, mainly because one album of theirs in particular (not this one) has raised a lot of controversy around these parts. If it's anything like this first release, I don't see how anybody could come to any other conclusion than the obvious one.

This first release, Just Talking About The Universe... So Far, sounds like a mish-mash of all the power and prog metal that was big at the time (1993-1994) put into a blender with all the obvious prog bands of the 70s, and no real direction is ever decided upon. It honestly sounds like a small group of guys just crowded up in a room, started fiddling around on their instruments, and starting making noises that sounded like their favorite metal bands to their ears. ''Hey, man! That totally sounded like Dream Theater! Put it in the song!'' If that isn't how it happened, I would be very surprised indeed; because honestly, nothing on this album sounds like it was all that inspired or well thought-out before the songs were recorded. Just a bunch of messing around until they got to a point they thought sounded like 'prog' to them, and that was good enough. The vocals are just like any other generic, high-pitched, vibrato-ridden vocal style you've heard a thousand times before. Nothing new to offer in that department. The guitar work is fine. Better than I could do, surely. That doesn't mean I have to like it, because I don't. It's just not to my taste. Again, none of this sounds even remotely unique or individual to this band. I could turn on a Rush record and hear the same sound, except I would actually enjoy the songs.

Now, I'm not trying to be mean. I'm an independent musician myself, and I'm certainly not saying I could do any better than these guys. But I cannot pretend like it's good music when I honestly don't think it is. This is as bland as it gets, as far as I am concerned. Hell, you could turn on any of the best records by The Beatles, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, records that were made decades before this one, yet the music held within those releases sound centuries ahead of the stuff Torman Maxt offers on their debut 'progressive rock' album, Just Talking About The Universe... So Far. Even prog metal groups specifically, the best of them, sound miles ahead of this. As far as I can hear, this record is just a carbon copy of something else that's better quality and more artistically relevant. Rush, Dream Theater, Quensryche, take your pick. It's all being imitated here, and not all that well, in my view.

Some folks have been criticizing this band's music in general for being too simple. I'm not going to do that, actually. Because that doesn't matter to me, and it shouldn't matter to you. If the artist has passion, talent, and strong concepts worth presenting through his or her art, then technique doesn't really amount to much without talent, and the end result is the only thing most people will experience. Some folks' tendency to hold technical ability over everything else puzzles me indeed. Unfortunately, at least in this first album's case, the music doesn't sound very passionate or inspired. Not to me, anyway. As I said before, it's imitation music. Like a cover band who decided to attempt to make their own material, but only listened or cared about the handful of bands they had already been covering.

The best song (in other words, the least-irritating) is the first one, ''Riders of the Cosmic Circuit'' (ooh! What a super 'proggy' name!), and the worst track is the last one, ''Life Sketches 2''. And the quality of the music steadily declines over the course of the CD. Yes, it's one of 'those' albums. After a while, all the tracks started to blend into each other without any of them having much of an identity on their own. You could easily play any one of them, and I could have listened to the album fifty times, and still have trouble telling you which song is which. Considering how most albums I buy (including pop albums!) take me virtually only one listen to at least be able to differentiate between the songs, hopefully you get the idea of why I felt a bit irritated by the time the ordeal was over. A whole album's worth of soft guitar, then a sudden blast into frantic drum and guitar work, solos, screechy vocals, rinse and repeat, gets very trying on one's nerves. I'm not exaggerating, either. Eight of the ten tracks present on this release all have that same exact formula of the softer intro, followed by the 'awesome' blast of mighty guitars, and so forth. And if you just quickly switch between each song after getting a taste of the intros, it's very difficult hearing much difference. The outro of ''Ancient 120'' is the only stand-out moment on the album, since all the 'epic' nonsense gets pushed aside, and a nice, peaceful synth section leads the track out.

I wish I were just goofing around, but I'm not. This music is not just generic; it's unpleasant for me to listen to. The vocals are all over the place, the instrumentation has no creativity or flare of any kind, and often times the music sounds pieced together as I mentioned earlier in the review. Bits and pieces of their influences sewn together by very thin, stringy thread. I can't say I can recommend this to anyone who has any substantial amount of musical knowledge as a listener or as a musician. All you'll find, in my opinion, is more of the same, except not as good. In and of itself, that wouldn't even warrant the worst rating I could give it, but the fact that the music itself just isn't fun at all for me to listen to means that I'm most likely never going to listen to the album ever again. In other words, it's poor. So, that's the rating I'm going to give it. I honestly thought my controversial Bedlam In Goliath review would remain my only one-star review for a very long time, as I usually find something redeemable about even the least quality music I come across, but Torman Maxt's Just Talking About The Universe... So Far has proved me wrong. I don't even care about the goofy Christian lyrics. At this point, the lyrics wouldn't have raised my rating, even if they were good.

JLocke | 1/5 |

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