Torman Maxt - The Foolishness Of God

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Mars Hill Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:03:00

Torman Maxt have a great progressive/AOR sound with elements of southern rock. The opening track "From The Inside: Vanity Explored" will take you back to the mid-to-late 70s, bringing to mind, at least for me, Allman Bros. and Doobie Bros., though not of one specific track. Also, this is played at a higher pitch than I associate with either band. Actually, what this song really reminds me of an Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," though given that southern rock flavour. What it is basically is that guitarist Tony Massaro plays very clean, crisp lines. Since 1991, we haven't heard much of that, as the fuzzed and dirty tone seems to have taken root. Perhaps no where else other than progressive rock (and retro rock), do we hear these well-defined guitar lines (except, perhaps, for jazz).

And yet, "Ghost Town" is very arty - one part Dream Theater (the sparse, shimmering guitar lines from Tony Massaro), one part Jane's Addiction (Massaro again, on vocals). I wouldn't call it spacey exactly, but is it a bit otherworldly. Spacey is the term to describe the instrumental "Off This Planet" (track 6) -- glissandos, pulsations, snicks, and wavery synths are the main components, though for the last few seconds of this very short track acoustic guitar is added to the mix. Metal comes into the mix with the intro to the third track, "External Perspectives: City Of Man" which is broken up into four segments, the first being a driving instrumental ("Desire") is the final segment of the track "Destruction." A bit like Rush, only much heavier -- Rush as speed metal band, I guess.

"The Stage" gives us Boston reborn, though Massaro's guitar work is cleaner than Scholz', the drums (Vincent Massaro) a little punchier. But the overall feel is very much Boston, circa...well, Third Stage. A touch of Kansas appears with the acoustic based "Space And Time." Layered voices here create a very nice texture, with the Massaro's higher leads over the lower backing vocals (Alwyn Kelley).

The track that stood out for me the most was the eastern sounding "40 Days." Heavy bass (Dominic Massaro) and booming percussion are out front on this one, with a solid wall of guitar behind the vocal sections. Rather than singing over the rhythm, Massaro sings with it. "Silence Isn't Golden" sounds to me like a cross of Jane's Addiction and nu-metal, and I think the latter description is equally apt to most of the material here, too. Though certainly it is not the only description.

As with Divine In Sight's Sorrow & Promise, I think the music is very good, as The Foolishness Of God is, from a purely musical standpoint, a very strong release. Torman Maxt may seem to be all over the map stylistically - going from rock to metal - but this all hangs together well, flowing nicely from one track to the next. I'm not a fan of Massaro's whiny vocal tone in all cases, but it does work well with the music that surrounds it.

Structurally, the album is divided into four chapters (yup, a concept album), each chapter split into various "scenes" (in this case, tracks). The Foolishness Of God was not, topically, what I was expecting. It is the opposite, as Torman Maxt are another band who wears their strong Christian beliefs on their sleeves. At the center of The Foolishness Of God are several things. One, that man has turned away from God, given into greed and avarice and two, that scientists discount that God exists and don't ascribe to Him all that science is finding. In "The China Song," they suppose that even those who deny the existence of God, "really know" that God exists (and cast them as thus otherwise uncaring about anything else). There are others. In chapter four, "The Foolishness Of God" lays out the final conceit -- that it is in the seemingly foolish things that man does, man will be saved, giving Noah and Moses as two examples. That God is showing his greater wisdom in seemingly foolish things. And although I do not share their beliefs, I will say that they have presented it all in a way that will not exclude a "secular" audience -- that is, that both non-Christian and those of no particular "faith" can enjoy the album as well. I can tell you that I certainly did, having played it several times before I even thought to look at the lyrics to find out this wasn't a wry comment on faith. It stands on it's own as a musical statement. Recommended.

From The Inside (Part 1): Vanity Explored (4:54) / Ghost Town (3:15) / External Perspectives: City Of Man (5:15) / The Stage (3:24) / Space And Time (5:06) / Off This Planet (2:13) / The China Song (6:49) / From The Inside (Part 2): 40 Days (3:59) / Life Sketches III: Sin (1:43) / Silence Isn't Golden (3:34) / Foolishness: Life Sketches IV: Eternity (2:45) / The Foolishness Of God (10:46)

Tony Massaro - guitar, vocals
Vincent Massaro - drums
Dominic Massaro - bass

Just Talking About The Universe ? So Far (1994)
The Foolishness Of God (2001)
The Problem Of Pain (Part 1) (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 9th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1052
Language: english


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