|Musical Style: Progressive Rock||Produced By: Tony Massaro|
|Record Label: Mars Hill||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2002||Artist Website: Torman Maxt|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 54:09|
In 1994 Torman Maxt independently released the progressive rock of its full length debut Just Talking About The Universe...So Far. Returning eight years later with a very fine sophomore effort entitled The Foolishness Of God, Torman Maxt gives rise to a metal influenced progressive rock sound serving to showcase its creative songwriting skills and first rate musicianship. Fans of Neal Morse, Shadow Gallery, Kansas and Dream Theater will feel right at home here. Lead vocalist Tony Massaro brings a strong melodic flavored voice to the project in addition to capably handling all rhythm and lead guitar duties. The rhythm section of bassist Dominic Massaro and drummer Vincent Massaro puts in place a solid foundation for the bands sound.
A flat sounding production job with sonics on the muddy side, unfortunately, detracts from the overall quality of The Foolishness Of God. The albums low end sounds particularly muffled. The rhythm guitar comes across on the thin side, while the lead guitar often struggles to stand out above the instrumentation.
The catchy three part "Vanity Explored" starts acoustically until the rhythm guitar takes over and carries the extent of its first part entitled "Discovery". The acoustic guitar returns to convey the song through part two, "Lamentations", while the rhythm guitar closes out "Vanity Explored" during its third and final part "Reality".
After "Ghost Town" is impelled through its slowly moving verse portions by a prominently mixed bass line, it abruptly picks up in pace when the rhythm guitar enters the mix and bolsters a chorus advancing at a frenetic upbeat tempo. "Ghost Town" deals with spiritual warfare:
Our battle is not with flesh and blood
A spiritual war is fought instead
The creative "City Of Man" is broken down into four different parts. A fast paced combination of rhythm and lead guitar drives the songs instrumental first portion, "Desire", before it transitions to "Arrival" and moves forward in a mid-tempo paced melodic hard rock direction. Slowing to a near standstill as nearly a minute of acoustic guitar highlights "Disillusionment", "City Of Man" closes as the same quickly moving blend of rhythm and lead guitar driving its opening propels "Destruction".
Once an acoustic guitar takes "The Stage" through its first and second verse, the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix as it gains momentum and arrives at a good catchy chorus. A minute of tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony closes out the songs last minute. "The Stage" talks about the tongue:
The tongue can be so kind and endearing
Yet it keeps dispensing all the evil things from the heart
Progressing to a combination of acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies during its verse portions, "Space And Time" picks up in pace upon attaining a spirited chorus underscored by a crisp rhythm guitar. Tony Massarso's fast paced guitar solo opens an instrumental passage closing to a driving guitar riff. "Space And Time" deals with those who deny the existence of God:
It's the sign of the times and it's nothing new
When a man in his mind puts an ending to
The role of God and the things only He can do
With the laws of the mind as the final proof
A combination of acoustic guitar and synthesizers hold sway over the brief (2:13) instrumental "Off This Planet".
The waves washing upon the shore that introduce "The China Song" give way to an acoustic guitar prior to a voice providing narration from Psalm 14:1 and Romans 1:19-20, 22 & 25. After the rhythm guitar steps forward, it proceeds to take the song to a sweeping chorus interlaced with a touch of acoustic guitar. "The China Song" continues in a rhythm guitar driven direction until the acoustic guitar returns to stand in support of more narration from Psalm 19:1-2 and Hebrews 11:1-4. A catchy guitar riff reinforced by a punchy bass line accentuates an energetic minute long instrumental passage.
"40 Days", ranking among the albums strongest tracks, gives prominence to a superlative melody line as it is driven from front to back by an inspired acoustic laced combination of pounding drums and a prominent bass line. The song closes to a minute and a half of distorted lead guitar work backed by the bass line in question.
The brief (1:43) "Life Sketches III: Sin" begins to a drum solo followed by a hard hitting riff that carries its first and only verse.
The blend of rhythm guitar opening "Silence Isn't Golden" is replaced by an acoustic guitar at the start of its first verse. As the song gains momentum, the rhythm guitar returns to buttress a chorus with a good catchy hook. The instrumental passage closing out the songs last minute and a half opens to a bass solo that transitions to a minute of the albums best lead guitar work.
A combination of acoustic guitar and slowly played lead guitar drives the instrumental "Life Sketches IV: Eternity".
The albums epic ten minute title track is a creative work of art based around I Corinthians 1:25. The song derives its meaning from the concept of how God's work seems like foolishness, while, at the same time, presenting Christ as the biggest foolishness or stumbling block to people. "The Foolishness Of God" is interlaced with narration by the late Dr. Walter Martin of the Christian Research Institute from his cassette of the same title.
"The Foolishness Of God" is broken down into five different parts.
"Introduction" gets underway to narration from Dr. Martin underscored by an acoustic guitar:
For it is written:
I will utterly ruin
the wisdom of the wise.
I will reduce to nothing
the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise man, where is the scholar,
where is the professional arguer of the world?
Has not God reduced to foolishness
the wisdom of the world?
Answer: Of course.
The acoustic guitar soon gives way to a rhythm guitar before "Introduction" ends to more narration:
With all the wisdom the Greeks had.
With all the wisdom the Egyptians had.
With all the wisdom of all the cultures of
all mankind in its totality,
In the wisdom of God they never found Him...
The golden age of Greece led them to Plato's
republic, utter disaster, moral chaos,
and multiple polytheistic worship.
That was the golden age of Greece,
the summit of man's wisdom led him to despair.
"The Foolishness Of God" stops dead in its tracks before "Idolatry" progresses to an amalgamation of acoustic and lead guitar. Once the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy, the song advances in an upbeat manner to additional narration:
Never before in the history of mankind
have there been so many people running around
the landscape saying, "Here, here, here, here,
here, here,here,here...and nobody has found Him yet.
I like how the instrumental portions of "Faith & Foolishness" feature an aggressively played guitar riff, while an acoustic guitar carries those with Tony Massaro on lead vocals.
Just under a minute of lead guitar takes the song to "The Biggest Foolishness" which, as it transitions back to an acoustic based direction, makes the statement, "The biggest foolishness? A man named Jesus Christ." The rhythm guitar kicks in and proceeds to take "The Biggest Foolishness" to another passage carried by narration:
And you know, God has one more piece
of foolishness, which is greater than all the rest
of the foolishness that's in the Bible,
the greatest foolishness of God is this:
That He intends to save mankind through the
death of a crucified Jewish carpenter who
died outside the walls of Jerusalem almost two
thousand years ago, whom he personally
resurrected from the dead.
"Epilogue", a musical continuation of "The Biggest Foolishness", closes the album with Dr. Martin conveying the salvation message:
Jesus Christ came into this world to
save sinners, neither is there salvation
in any other, there is no other name given
under heaven, among men,
whereby you must be saved.
The foolishness of God
is God's method of saving men.
In closing, I really enjoy the creative and progressive flavored music on The Foolishness Of God. From front to back the album is characterized by consistent and well crafted songwriting that, when combined with the bands solid musicianship, makes for a recommended purchase. On the other hand, a low budget production job in the end detracts from the albums all around value. (With a more refined production job I would have added at least ten additional points to its overall score.)
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Vanity Explored" (4:54), "Ghost Town" (3:15), "City Of Man" (5:15), "The Stage" (3:24), "Space And Time" (5:06), "Off This Planet" (2:13), "The China Song" (6:49), "40 Days" (3:59), "Life Sketches III: Sin" (1:43), "Silence Isn’t Golden" (3:34), "Life Sketches IV: Eternity" (2:45), "The Foolishness OF God" (10:46)
Tony Massaro – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Dominic Massaro – Bass
Vincent Massaro – Drums
Also Reviewed: Torman Maxt - The Problem Of Pain: Part 1