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Toxic Smile - Farewell CD (album) cover


Toxic Smile


Progressive Metal

3.94 | 61 ratings

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5 stars 'When I listen to this song and close my eyes / I have comparisons', following the lyrics of the magnificent central theme, is what first came to mind when I heard of and later listened to the new concept album of Leipzig based Toxic Smile. The first comparison suggested itself right from the start, when they announced that it was just one 42 minute song: Dream Theater's 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence' is another 42 minute CD-filling piece of superb music. But let's take a closer look. SDOIT, no matter how much I like it, is a concatenation of different individual songs which is not only obvious when listening to it but also from the fact that the CD is split into different tracks. "Farewell", however, is indeed ONE SONG and that is what I find most remarkable about it. At the same time the whole song does not get dull at any point, so don't be afraid that you will find a chorus that is repeated over and over again. With the 'When I listen ...' lines, there is a landmark chorus, no doubt about that, but you will not hear it too often (first time occurs at 8:20!), as the band has so much more to offer. The 'let me break my illusion' motif, starting at 4:30, is yet another brilliant melody that will occasionally reprise.

Another comparison is 'Tangerine Windows Of Solace' of Sieges Even's outstanding album 'Steps': Another long track, another German band, another custom-crafted mainly gray/black cover painting (in case of 'Farewell' by base player Robert Brenner), another production using a string ensemble. But apart from TWOS also being a sequence of songs, it is based on early Sieges Even's 'Pronounced rhythm section - non Keyboard' trademark sound (which is not meant negatively, but is, in fact, the special charm of 'Steps'), while 'Farewell' serves us up with a wide variety of sounds and styles far beyond the strings popping up from time to time after their appearance in the elegiac intro. We have Galahad-like sequencer/distorted guitar combinations (11:00) as well as funky elements (23:50), there are Hammond sounds (13:00) as well as quiet piano/percussion-driven ones (18:00) which then turn into Floyd-like parts (20:30). Just a little later on, there is a virtuoso speed picking guitar solo by founder member Uwe Reinholz who will regrettably be leaving the band after 'Farewell' for personal reasons. As with almost all productions involving the versatile keyboard player Marek Arnold, 'Farewell' also particularly benefits from Marek's saxophone contributions (35:40, to mention just one of them).

However, one noteworthy thing that is very similar to Sieges Even's song: It has long instrumental parts so that the lyrics all fit on one single page in the CD box. Nevertheless, there is enough room for singer Larry B to bring in his wonderful warm voice. Indeed, 'warm' is the adjective that best fits how 'Farewell' feels to me.

All in all, the extraordinary strength of this album is that Toxic Smile always do the right thing at the right time. Despite its complexity, it always sounds completely natural , which I think is also to the credit of of Robert Eisfeldt on drums and Robert Brenner on bass with their unobstrusive but ever present style.

Speaking about the concept of the song, it deals with our current, visually-dominated world in which most of the media and information are made for the eye rather than the ear. Even at the risk of this comparison sounding overdone, there seems to be a connection to another album involving Marek Arnold, namely Seven Steps to the Green Door's new CD 'Fetish', which also deals with visual material in some sense. Certainly, there is quite a secondary personal relationship between both bands, with SSTTGD's guitar virtuoso Martin Schnella bringing in backing vocals and mixing/mastering the whole thing to make it sound so great.

So I am grateful not only to the band but also to Progressive Promotion Record's Oliver Wenzler who has released yet another masterpiece of German prog rock/metal. Weiter so!!

DreamAndDay | 5/5 |


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