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(41:53, ‘Torman Maxt’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overture 3:53 2. Job's Song 3:36 3. The Angel's First Song 3:42 4. Satan's First Song 4:17 5. Job's Initial Shock 1:56 6. Job's Resolve 3:49 7. Job's Commitment 2:25 8. The Angel's Second Song 9. Satan's Second Song 2:04 10. Job's Contemplation 1:18 11. Job's Second Response 2:56 12. Job's Wife 4:07 13. A Great Silence 4:47 LINEUP: Dominic Massaro – bass; keyboards Tony Massaro – guitars; vocals Vincent Massaro – drums
Prolusion. Originally from Florida, USA, the three brothers Massaro have Los Angeles as their base of operation these days. They and their band TORMAN MAXT have been around for several years now, and "The Problem of Pain Part 1" is their third release, the first of two planned concept albums taking on subject matter covered in Christian writer C. S. Lewis' book "The Problem of Pain". The reviews of the band’s first two recordings can be read here and here.
Analysis. Torman Maxt is not the first band taking inspiration from C. S. Lewis. Numerous artists have been inspired by his world famous book series "The Chronicles of Narnia", but not that many artists have taken inspiration from his more serious Christian novels. The only band that comes to mind is King's X, with their album "Out of the Silent Planet", named after one of the books in the Perelandra trilogy. And that is interesting, as Torman Maxt do have some strong King's X flavor to their music at times. Personally I'd describe the music here as a mix of the aforementioned King's X, Rush and Iron Maiden. The band themselves would probably want to add Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to their list of influences, as well as Yes. To a potential buyer of this album these paragraphs should indicate a good mix of musical styles explored here, which is indeed the case. There are basically four sets of songs on this concept album: the ones highlighting the Biblical character Job, two pairs of song where an angel from Heaven and Satan get the chance to get their messages across, and finally an opening tune and a closing tune, both setting the framework for the album as such, musically. The songs highlighting Job here are actually the most diversified, as the music is used to underline his internal struggles. Starting out uplifting, they get more darkness and pain in them as the story unfolds, showcased in the music with an introduction of harsher elements, especially when Job struggles with his inner doubts. The songs conveying the angel's message are lighter, uplifting in mood and with a high degree of folk influence. And anyone who has attended a church ceremony at some point will find the lyrics, vocals and vocal style in those tunes fascinating. On the other hand, the pair of tunes where Satan gets his chance to speak are much darker. Starting out folk-inspired in a kind of twisted version of the compositions made for the angels, the tunes shortly turn dark, grim and aggressive, but catchy. While the songs' openings and closings, to a large extent, have musical elements from most of the other tracks on the album. This is not only done on these tunes; most songs have to a smaller or greater extent segments or fragments of music used in other pieces, but on these two compositions it is done more extensively; and more on the opening track, Overture, than on the last one, A Great Silence. Torman Maxt write short, concise tunes, most times with several breaks and a rather complex structure for such short cuts (none passing the 5 minute mark), and they seem to be very fond of adding layers of guitar riffs, licks and soloing on top of each other to create strong and distinct moods. This gives this album a rather unique atmosphere and enhances the good songs on the release, which are plentiful. Nevertheless, there are not too many moments of pure brilliance here – Satan's First Song and the very similar Satan's Second Song are the songs I will place in that category, but all the other songs here are indeed high quality and above average. It can be a bit taxing getting used to the vocals here though, especially in the parts where Tony Massaro sounds like a young Geddy Lee having a guest appearance in a King's X composition, but once you do, this album will start growing on you.
Conclusion. If the thought of a concept album with highly religious lyrics exploring a multitude of musical styles from folk-influenced rock on one side to prog metal on the other sounds interesting, and if you don't mind short but often complexly structured compositions, this is an album definitely worth checking out.
OMB: May 24, 2008
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