|Musical Style: Progressive Metal||Produced By: Tony Massaro|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website: Torman Maxt|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 41:29|
Things are starting to look up for Costa Mesa, California’s Torman Maxt, if their fall of 2010 release The Problem Of Pain: Part 2 is any indication. The album picks up where the groups previous effort, The Problem Of Pain: Part 1 from 2007, leaves off in that it is the “second chapter” of a two CD progressive rock concept series based around the story of Job from the Old Testament with the ultimate theme revolving around why God allows evil and suffering on earth.
Where “Part 1” focused on Job’s early prosperity in life and subsequent trials and tribulations which came about as a result of the agreement Satan made with God to prove that Job’s obedience is due to his good life and not trust in God, “Part 2” begins with Job contemplating his fate after experiencing the death of his children and horrific sores all over his body. It then goes on to detail the discourse between Job and his three friends followed by Job’s restoration after God speaks to him.
The Problem Of Pain: Part 2 finds Torman Maxt continuing to combine elements of progressive rock and metal. Fans of Rush and Dream Theater (and all things in between) will find a lot to like here. If anything, “Part 2” is the heaviest of the four Torman Maxt albums - the group got its start in 1994 with Just Talking About The Universe… So Far prior to following up with The Foolishness Of God eight years later - while maintaining the bands penchant for tasteful acoustic lacings, lush vocal melodies and songwriting characterized by intricate time and tempo changes.
“Part 2” also finds Torman Maxt improving upon the many mistakes it made on “Part 1”, an album I graded at 55% in describing as “trending towards the disappointing side of things” and that “(featured) too many average songs”. Specifically, the songwriting on “Part 1” came across forced and conservative in including too many tracks that either failed to hold my attention or were simply too short in coming in at around the two minute mark.
This, however, has been rectified on “Part 2” in that Torman Maxt has devoted the needed time on songwriting to create the more well rounded and consistent work. The end result are eight songs that - as a result of the band letting the creativity flow naturally - do a better job holding up under repeated play.
“Job’s Lament”, “Bildad” and “Job’s Complaint” are classic examples of Torman Maxt at its progressive best with their leanings towards the technical and complex. “God Speaks” upholds the progressiveness but from an instrumental standpoint. The hard rocking “Elophaz” is as close to metal as it gets while “Job’s Plea” and “Zophar”, in contrast, head in acoustic based territory. The beautifully up-tempo “Restoration” combines elements of the acoustic and electric.
“Part 2” maintains the Torman Maxt penchant for musical ability. It all starts with Tony Massaro, who presents with a clean and melodic vocal style with a slight high end feel but without overdoing it (those who do not like high pitched vocalists will have no problem here). Tony also handles all guitar duties and contributes rhythm guitar in generous portions (again, “Part 2” is the heaviest work from the group) and equal amounts of melodic guitar harmonies. Soloing is tastefully done - yes, you will find Torman Maxt taking advantage of more than its fair share of instrumental opportunities throughout - in aligning with the spirit of each song.
Brothers Vincent (drums) and Dominic (bass) Massaro provide solid support as well. Dominic contributes some well conceived bass lines while Vincent proves adept with his technical drum skills.
Production, a drawback on the two previous Torman Maxt releases, is now a strength. A crystal clear mix allows all the instrumentation to stand out, particularly the full and heavy rhythm guitar sound and underpinning bass lines.
Track By Track
The awesome progressiveness of the ten minute “Job’s Lament” gets things underway. The song begins its first five minutes instrumentally, transitioning between quieter (almost ethereal) passages upheld by keyboards, recorder and acoustic guitar and others in which hard rocking guitars and stalwart drums make their presence felt. Over its final half “Jobs Lament” winds its way through a maze of time changes - too numerous to provide adequate detail - in establishing a dramatic environs as Job contemplates his fate and asks God to kill him:
Cursed be the day I was born
Let it be marked by darkness and scorn
And the night that I was conceived
Let it be known as the night of misery
Now I want to say to god
There’s no reason to go on
End this life of misery
Reach your hand out and kill me
“Bildad” maintains the progressiveness. After starting to some offbeat keyboards, the song drifts through its first verse acoustically only to see momentum pick up exponentially as a hard rocking rhythm guitar cuts in for the final two. Things close instrumentally to a joining of eerie acoustic guitar and driving rhythm guitar.
“Zophar”, the albums shortest at 2:46, slowly flows its distance to acoustic guitar and pleasing vocal melodies.
“Eliphaz” is a heavy hitting rocker carried by a forwardly mixed bass line - the low end is really happening here - and muscular guitar sound. Smoothing out the driving scene are ore of the bands tight vocal melodies in abundance.
On “Bidlad”, “Zophar” and “Eliphaz”, Job’s friends suggest that his suffering is due to his own sin:
How long will you go on raging at the Lord?
Your pain, the shame…is a just reward
Hear the word of the Lord
Sin is the cause of all pain
It’s time to admit you’re to blame
I see enormous pain
With more to follow
I know the things you say
Will soon be proven wrong
You fell away…you must have done
Something wrong and angered the Lord
You must now answer for what you’ve done wrong
“Job’s Complaint” brings more intricacy. The song starts instrumentally to an ominous joining of acoustic guitar and bluesy lead guitar. Momentum picks up after two and a half minutes as the rhythm guitar storms in, swiftly pushing things ahead as the song maneuvers both its verses in a tersely done manner.
“Job’s Plea” takes an acoustic based mid-paced heading. With several gritty lead guitar runs and layers of vocal harmonies leading the way, the song almost comes across atmospheric in capacity. Refreshing, relaxed and laid back would be the best way to describe it.
“Job’s Complaint” and “Job’s Plea” detail Job’s response to his three friends:
They look, but they do not see
They hear, but they don’t know
Their eyes are closed in sleep
And their ears are dull
They sit in judgment of my life
They scoff and accuse me
Righteous friends like this
Feel like enemies
What is a man that you make so much
Of all that he says and all he does?
Down in the ground I soon will be
Will you still go looking for me?
Aptly entitled progressive rock instrumental “God Speaks” delivers its share of time changes. The song moves its length transitioning between slower passages upheld in haunting fashion by keyboards and acoustic guitar and others sustaining the more determined initiative by a forceful rhythm guitar. In between you will find ringing bells and a plodding bass line that has doom metal written all over it. Quite catchy is this one.
Everything of “Restoration” speaks of the positive. From the upbeat tempo, pleasing joining of the electric and acoustic and encouraging tinctures throughout, you cannot help but walk away from this one feeling uplifted. Job’s restoration is the subject at hand:
I know that you are God and have made everything
My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen
I despise myself for all that I have said
I sit in dust and ashes in my repentance
So what do we now say of this man job
And the God who let his torment grow?
And the words of his would be counselors
Who explain God in human terms?
When God spoke job was silenced
And he had no plea or claim left
In the end God does not have to explain
His ways are far beyond all men
The Problem Of Pain: Part 2 is a good progressive rock concept album. Give credit to Torman Maxt for improvements it has made in songwriting, production and all around performance. The meaningful message helps make an already very good album that much better.
Track Listing: “Job’s Lament” (10:05), “Bildad” (4:48), “Zophar” (2:46), “Eliphaz” (4:25), “Job’s Complaint” (3:58), “Job’s Plea” (4:30), “God Speaks” (5:50), “Restoration” (5:04)
Tony Massaro – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Dominic Massaro – Bass
Vincent Massaro - Drums