The third album from American Christian progressive hard rock band Torman Maxt, called The Problem of Pain, Part 1 is an album that doesn't get a whole lot of love from reviewers, and after hearing it, it's not hard to understand why. This album is severely flawed in almost every sense of the word, from a lyrical and musical perspective.
Usually when an album gets such flak from fellow reviewers, I try to avoid reviewing it. The last thing that a young band, such as Torman Maxt, wants to hear is that people with a passion for music dislike their album in such an immense way. As evidenced by the overwhelming amount of negative reviews that The Problem of Pain, Part 1 receives, I'm sure the band doesn't want to hear another review bashing their hard work. I apologize to Torman Maxt in advance, but this album is really hard to sit through.
I'm going to try to be as fair as I possibly can during this review. As a young composer myself, I know how devastating it can be to receive a less-than-stellar write up. There is no nice way to put this, but this band needs a serious overhaul if they ever plan on releasing a part two of this album.
First of all, the lyrics are a huge problem throughout this album. I consider myself a Christian, but this is way too much for me. I have absolutely no problem with expressing your faith through music, but I'd imagine that these overly-preachy lyrics are offensive to anybody that isn't a Christian. I myself am a Christian, but I have a tough time listening to some of these lyrics. Christian lyrics can be beautiful if they're written well (just look at Neal Morse!), but that isn't the case here. I really wish that Torman Maxt would either learn to write Christian lyrics that people actually care about, or they just write lyrics unrelated to religion (which usually works well anyway).
Even if The Problem of Pain, Part 1 were to have good lyrics, that wouldn't be enough to save this album. The music is passable and forgettable at best, and often unnaturally upbeat. If more powerful music were applied to these lyrics, maybe they would seem a little bit stronger. The music is so linear and predictable that it detracts from the overall value of the album. The music is almost entirely played in a happy mood, which can quickly become trivial and downright annoying. I wish there was more variation in the moods of the songs. I think that would make for a much more dynamic album.
Another big problem with this album is the below-average musicianship. The drumming from Vincent Massaro is simple, uninteresting, and boring. Honestly, Tony Massaro's vocals can become very annoying after the first few songs as well. His voice really sounds uninspired and lacking in dynamic abilities. Dominic Massaro does nothing notable on bass (or the sparingly used keyboards) throughout the length of the album. The only positive thing that comes from this album in terms of musicianship is the average guitar playing from Tony Massaro. He doesn't do anything spectacular or out of the ordinary, but he gets the job done.
A strange thing that I notice when listening to The Problem of Pain, Part 1 is the weird guitar melodies. Not in an avant-garde sense, but there are many times when it sounds like Tony Massaro is playing in a different key, or even his guitar is slightly out of tune. A few guitar solos sound really awkward and dissonant because of this. It's not a major problem, but it's just yet another flaw that detracts from my enjoyment of this album.
The production is pretty poor as well. It's obviously low budget and amateurish, but it gets the job done. I personally don't enjoy it much, but it doesn't greatly affect my listening experience.
While it may sound like I think this entire album is bad, it does have a few nice moments. Job's Song is a pretty great track, but after that, almost all of the songs are forgettable. After I hear this album I can only recall a few moments and riffs from the whole album. It's really a shame, because there are a few moments of potential on this album. As a whole, the entirety of this album never keeps me interested.
The Problem of Pain, Part 1 is a really poor album from Torman Maxt, honestly. If they ever want to make The Problem of Pain, Part 2, they need some serious improvements. I seldom will turn down a free album, but this is worth turning down in all respects. If you still feel like you should get this album, it's available for free from Torman Maxt's website. I don't recommend it, however. My rating is somewhere between a 1 and a 1.5, but I'm going to round up. There's definitely worse music out there, even though I refuse to compliment this album.