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Toxic Smile: 7 (2013)

Written by: Kev Rowland

I actually wrote the review below when I was sent this album back in 2013 when it was released. But, given that I am reviewing virtually all their other releases it seems wrong not to put this back in where it belongs in terms of their history. This was their fourth studio album, but their seventh release overall, hence the title. It also had the same line-up as ‘I’m Your Saviour’, except they also brought in Cat Henschelmann on violin to add just that little more breadth. So, some five years after I wrote this, here is the review again, so apologies if it is a little out of context of the others…

I have learned to have high expectations of releases on Progressive Promotion, and this digipak has yet again set the standard very high indeed. This is the seventh release by German band Toxic Smile, but is the first time I have come across them, looks as if I am going to have search out their old releases now as if they are anything like this then I need to hear them! The core of the band have been together since 2000, although they have been through a few drummers in that time, while Marek Arnold (keys, sax) and Uwe Reinholz (guitars) actually started playing together as students in 1996. What makes this band so interesting for me is the sheer diversity of music that they are playing, happily moving through the progressive spectrum from light to heavy, simple to complex, yet always maintaining a strong melody line.

Most people would classify them as prog metal, and that is probably the best single sub-genre to fit them into, but there are times when they are clearly Crossover, at others the Neo influence comes in while jazz is never too far behind either. Yes they can crunch out some strong syncopated rhythms when they want to, but they now how important it is to balance this with a keyboards solo or drop into a piano-led section. I’m not sure how they would be able reproduce this in the live environment as Marek is often playing multiple parts using different keyboard sounds at the same time, yet it is only when listening really hard that one realizes just how much he is contributing as the ear is naturally drawn to the bombast of the guitars, bass and drums. Robert Brenner provides some great bass touches here and there that really lift the overall sound and performance, while singer Larry B. has a wonderfully melodic voice. This is a wonderfully accessible metallic prog album with loads of influences, with the only real moan that at seven songs and just forty-seven minutes long it is just too short!

Rating: 8/10

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Track list:
From Inside Out // Barfeooted Man // Needless // Love Without Creation // Rayless Sun // King Of Nowhere // Afterglow

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Links:
https://www.facebook.com/ToxicSmileBand/
https://www.progressive-promotion.de/

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