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Toxic Smile: 7

The beginnings of German progressive rock band Toxic Smile date all the way back to 1996 when school mates Marek Arnold (keyboards saxophone), Daniel Zehe (drums) and Uwe Reinholz (guitars, vocals) got together with vocalist Larry B. joining a couple of years later. Their first album Madness and Despair was released in 2000. Their fourth release 7 came out in late 2013. Daniel Zeheis no longer with the band and was replaced by Robert Eisfeldt. Robert Brenner adds bass and backing vocals.

The wealth of new artists in progressive music is simply astounding. There are just so many bands to keep up with it is impossible to hear them all. A case in point is Toxic Smile, another band I have just recently listened to for the first time. I don't think I have heard a bad album on Progressive Promotion Records' roster of artists and 7 is no exception. In fact, it is excellent.

The band's music mixes progressive metal/rock with snippets of jazz and symphonic rock. A sort of Vanden Plas, Dream Theater, Flower Kings hybrid that works exceptionally well. The music never gets boring as there are enough change ups and twists and turns to keep most prog fans on their toes without getting too wild or over the top. The songs are multi-faceted with shades of light and dark providing nice contrast between heavy chugging guitar riffs and mellower keyboard led sections, often incorporating violin and piano. I am very impressed with the band's artistic approach and attention to detail and the album gets stronger with each successive listen.

"From Inside Out" kicks off the album with a metallic edge incorporating some wicked guitar and keyboards with mellower symphonic sections. "Barefooted Man" is a stunning piece with heavier and lighter parts featuring very good synth and guitar work. Heavy guitar riffs and big organ chords make "Needless" another winner, love the vocal melody as well, while "Love Without Creation" is one of my favourites led by Arnold's jazzy saxophone and lush symphonic arrangements giving it a Flower King's feel. Furious organ chords with heavy guitar riffs punctuate the intense "Rayless Sun" before the album ends with the progressive metal of "Afterglow", featuring tricky chord progressions, catchy vocals and calmer bits where the riffs are more restrained and the piano quite pretty.

Simply put, 7 is an outstanding release and one I consider essential for any progressive metal/rock collection.


Track Listing:
1. From Inside Out (6:36)
2. Barefooted Man (8:28)
3. Needless (6:24)
4. Love Without Creation (5:40)
5. Rayless Sun (8:00)
6. King Of Nowhere (3:56)
7. Afterglow (7:34)

Added: March 13th 2014
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1589
Language: english

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