Torman Maxt - _The Problem of Pain: Part 1_
(Mars Hill Records, 2007)
by: Quentin Kalis (8 out of 10)
This CD may very well be dismissed by many as Christian propagandizing, purely due to the lyrical concept centred around the Biblical tale of Job. According to this story, Job was a man who had everything he desired, before being the victim of a wager between God and Satan as to whether he would keep his faith if everything he loved was suddenly taken away from him. Plus, the album name is taken from a C.S. Lewis quote (he is best known for the "Chronicles of Narnia" series, which is widely regarded as a thinly veiled allegory to Catholicism).

But just because a biblical text forms the basis of their work does not necessarily mean that they are Christian. The Bible contains many tales of betrayal, sacrifice, righteous wrath and war; a veritable cornucopia of (spiritual and otherwise) inspirational material. As long as it doesn't sound like a Pentecostal sermon with blastbeats, I don't really care.

Yet perhaps the most compelling reason why the Massaro brothers trio (Torman Maxt's component members) are probably not Christian is the fact that this is a progressive metal album. Now, I'm not aware of pride and vanity having been expunged from the Seven Deadly Sins, and a progressive metal album without a concept is like receiving oral sex from a man -- despite performing the same function, it is somewhat less than satisfying.

Dismounting from my favoured steed, Tangent, I shall turn to the music proper. True to pretentious form, the album consists of thirteen songs divided up into five "chapters". The story is left unresolved, "to be continued...", presumably on the next album.

Torman Maxt would have benefited from an increased production, especially in providing a fuller guitar sound and having the drums lower in the mix and less hollow sounding. However, this is a self-financed production (Mars Hill Productions is owned by the band and only their material has appeared under its imprint). One has to do the best with what one has.

By virtue of falling under the aegis of prog metal, the brothers are capable of playing their instruments, and just as capable of writing decent songs -- and I've heard far too much freeboard onanism for this to be a given. Also included are some beautiful, if somewhat poppy vocal harmonics. If progressive metal is your preferred keg of ale, then this will be up your street -- don't be so narrow-minded as to avoid it just because of the lyrical themes.


(article published 9/9/2007)

1/14/2002 A Bromley 8 Torman Maxt - The Foolishness of God
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