Written by: Kev Rowland
The same line-up were back for the second album, ‘Retrotox Forte’, released in 2004. Here we find the band starting to spread their wings into other areas, and while the progressive elements are still as strong as they were on the debut, Marek was also bringing in his more jazzy influences and providing saxophone as well as keyboards. Of all their releases this is the one that I feel doesn’t quite work in terms of what they were trying to do. It is almost as if they were pushing too hard to expand on what had gone before, not settling into a full band identity, and losing some of their way at times.
But, when they are on song there are few who can match them, with Marek and Uwe reminding me very strongly indeed of Ken Hensley and Mick Box, not so much in the music they were producing, but in the way that they were so in tune with each other’s thoughts that they were able to sound like a single musician, so fully were they aligned. Songs such as “Pyramid” is a classic in anyone’s books, moving from prog metal into more emotional styles and then back again, riffs and runs crunching, with Robert Brenner again providing a very strong counterpoint with some great bass. Larry B. has a great voice, and here he stays far more within his range, and is much happier for it. One can imagine him being onstage with a smile right across his face as Daniel locks it in and then lets the other three musicians just go hell for leather, attempting to outdo each other yet always locked in to the complex arrangements. Overall this may be my least favourite Toxic Smile album, but is still one that is enjoyable on so many levels.
Voix Du Passé // Raised // Fall Down // Escape // Pyramid // Stop Now // Steps Back // Confidence in Deception // C.I.D. Addendum // O.T. // Sacrificial Flame // Heavensent