King Crimson, Nektar, etc.)

The Foolishness of God Torman Maxt - The Foolishness of God (Mars Hill) 2002

A. From The Inside (Part 1)
1. "Vanity Explored" (4:54)
2. "Ghost Town" (3:15)

B. External Perspectives.
3. "City of Man" (5:15)
4. "The Stage" (3:24)
5. "Space & Time" (5:06)
6. "Off this Planet" (2:13)
7. "The China Song" (6:49)

C. From The Inside (Part 2)
8. "40 Days" (3:59)
9. "Life Sketches III: Sin" (1:43)
10. "Silence Isn't Golden" (3:34)

D. Foolishness.
11. "Life Sketches IV: Eternity" (2:45)
12. "The Foolishness of God" (10:46)

Back in the late 90's I was buying up anything at all that was labeled Christian metal. During that time I discovered an independent band called Torman Maxt and picked up their "Just Talking About the Universe" CD. I was impressed by their sound. They were not really a metal band, but rather they reminded me of the classic progressive rock bands of the 1970's; King Crimson, ELP, Rush, Nektar, etc. However, Torman Maxt didn't sound exactly like any of those bands. They had their own unique sound. However, as my CD collection began to grow outside of the small Christian metal spectrum, I somehow had forgotten about this gem of a band until 2007 when I saw them performing at Cornerstone California. They played to a very small crowd, but the band was tight and sounded great. My interest was peaked again. Upon arriving home I dug out that old "Just Talking About the Universe" CD and gave it a spin and was again quite pleased with the band's unique, melodic, almost atmospheric prog-rock. Soon after I contacted the band and found out they had released two more CDs since that time.

"The Foolishness of God" is their sophomore release. It picks up right where "Just Talking..." lets off. Melodic, atmospheric, progressive rock. They band experiments with multiple tempos, odd time signatures, clean and distorted guitar tones, and lots of different drum patterns, etc. "40 Days", for instance, is driven by a tribal drum beat. However, despite all the experimentation and progressive song writing, they have also not forgotten to include some hook. "The Foolishness of God" is a lengthy CD, yet I didn't find myself getting bored or wanting to skip tracks. Vocalist/guitarist Tony Massaro has a unique voice that has some similarites to Geddy Lee of Rush, or even Claudio Sanchez of Coheed & Cambria. However, these are only to give an idea of the sound. Tony really doesn't have the exact same tone or delivery as either of these guys.

"The Foolishness of God" is a concept album, however, as of writing this I haven't studied the lyrics close enough to actually pull the story out. However, from what I understand from my first read through is that the story line is basically about how people outside of the Christian faith view those in the faith as foolish for believing in God. Despite the odd sounding album title, Torman Maxt's members are Christians and their lyrics reflect their beliefs. However, after a quick review of the lyrics, the band expresses their beliefs poetically and imaginative without sounding overly preachy or condemning. It should also be noted that despite the fact that Torman Maxt are an independent band, the production values are quite good. Those familiar with their first album should be pleased with the strides made in production from that album to this.

The Problem of Pain, Pt. 1Torman Maxt - The Problem of Pain, Part 1 (Mars Hill) 2007

Chapter One: Prologue
1. "Overture" (3:53)
2. "Job's Song" (3:36)
Chapter Two: Job's First Test
3. "The Angel's First Song" (3:42)
4. "Satan's First Song" (4:17)
Chapter Three: Bog's First Response
5. "Job's Initial Shock" (1:56)
6. "Job's Resolve" (3:49)
7. "Job's Commitment" (2:25)
Chapter Four: Job's Second Test

8. "The Angel's Second Song" (2:03)
9. "Satan's Second Song" (2:04)
10. "Job's Contemplation" (1:18)
Chapter Five: Job's Second Response
11. "Job's Second Response" (2:56)
12. "Job's Wife" (4:09)
13. "A Great Silence" (4:47)

2007 brings about the their full length CD from progressive rockers Torman Maxt. "The Problem of Pain", a title obviously inspired or borrowed from C.S. Lewis, is an album very similar to what Torman Maxt have done in the past. Complex structures, progressive song writing, a ton of melody and Tony's high, smooth vocals. However, "The Problem of Pain" also seems to be a bit more of a mellow release. There is a lot of clean guitars and acoustic guitar used throughout this album. This CD also seems to pack a lot more emotion in it overall than the band's first two albums. In other words, this is not an album to put on for a road trip, but is a great CD for a time of mellowing out and reflection.

The subject matter of this album is quite interesting and actually makes me want to find the C.S. Lewis book of the same title. In a nutshell the band have created a concept album around the Old Testament Book of Job. On the back cover of the CD a thought provoking quote from Lewis' book is used which sums up the subject matter of the CD, “If God were good, he would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, he would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore, God lacks either goodness, or power, or both. This is the problem of pain in simplest form.” Unfortunately the story ends about half way through. I would imagine that Part 2 of the story will come with the next release.

"The Problem of Pain" is a emotional, melodic, progressive rock album that will please fans of the classic 70's prog bands like Kansas and Yes, as well as fans of the more melodic side of progressive metal. I'm looking forward to Part 2 of the story and a continuation of the sound.

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