Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Toxic Smile - Farewell CD (album) cover


Toxic Smile

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars The album title is dedicated to the fact that co-founder Uwe Reinholz (guitar) ultimately decided to quit. This is not meant as the last sign of life concerning the whole band though, which the cover art might imply like being broken up literally. So be it, coming and going, applicable to nearly all the aspects in everyday life. In the meanwhile Marek Arnold and his band mates have found Stephan Pankow to move up. And, to make it clear, this album does not sound like an elegy, that's for sure.

By the way, 'album' might not be a suitable notation for a one track production with 42 minutes playing time maybe, or what? But who cares? While missing any subtitles here, we have a progressive rock suite in best TOXIC SMILE tradition. Hereby the line-up is completely different to Marek's other band SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR, and stylistically this is more from the heavier side of life overall of course. Though not missing a symphonic touch, it all initiates with a string quartet, soon gliding into some neo progressive feel, but then Uwe Reinholz and the rhythm branch are starting all engines.

Yet again this is a versatile experience, definitely. Everything a prog fan's heart desires. Twists and turns, Larry B's fine vocals, empathic and slightly raw, charming melodic parts, heavy outbursts featuring slicing guitar riffs, jazzy impressions including piano and saxophone, diverse instrumental solos ... and so on. 'When I listen to the people and close my eyes ...' - the main theme, which holds the song together, will keep indoors sooner or later. A really fine arrangement, released on the Progressive Promotion Records label this certainly is a worthwhile purchase.

Report this review (#1499161)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Friend, if you liked Echolyn's Mei you owe it to yourself to check this out!

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- DT has a new release. So, when you require an intermission from that daunting listening task, here is a brief palate cleanser. Toxic Smile's Farewell is a one song album, comparable to Echolyn's Mei in style and format. This is exceptional prog rock with a quagmire of dynamics, attention to fine instrumentation and exploration of various musical genres. Balls-out rock: check! Ethereal space: check! Some funky breakdowns: check! An on-point jazz breakdown with sax (not half-assed, faux jazz either, mind you): check! Symphonic moments: check! Heavy, crunchy moments of metal: yeah, baby, check! It's all there and it ties together cohesively. They made it work and that's the rub -- most bands will fail to tie it all together convincingly. In that regard it's an entertaining, hail-mary-for-the-touchdown, neo-prog win!

The production on Farewell is really good, a harmonious balance of instruments and it captures all the nuances of dynamics. The drumming is a creative force, propelling the music and I much preferred this updated drum sound on Farewell over the previous 7 (which was good, but these drums are a little thicker with a fatter snare that sits nicely in the mix). Larry has a strong, vintage appeal in his voice -- a raw, gruffier version of Big Big Train's David Longdon, and the lyrics will not cause you to grab an epipen if you find yourself allegric to nafaryus cheese. I always like the inclusion of Marek Arnold's melodic sax sparingly in their music. Their song Love Without Creation (on their album 7) was a prime example of this and the magic has been peppered tastefully into this album. There's a fine balance betwixt all the instruments on the album, where each has a voice and fits nicely into place.

Also, this is a welcomed duration for a CD. Farewell reminds me I can't do 75+ minutes of listening to one album anymore. It's tiring and audibly indigestible after 60 minutes. Get our attention, say what you have to say and move on. 75 minutes becomes a sonic babble and begins wasting time (make two CDs and release them a year apart -- that's smarter marketing!) So at 42 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed that no moment on Farewell was wasted on filler. It's ever engaging.

That's lot of written praise for Toxic Smile, but not all is kitten whiskers and rainbow unicorns. Some may quip over a minor WTF? The band name. One may question if all the good band names, like URLs, are all taken? Seriously, the band name does nothing to describe the character or charm of the contents within. Dream Into Being. Beyond Wonderland. The Bone Clock. Fall Among Stars. Orion's Muse. This is average, off-the-top-of-my-head brain excrement that conjures up imagery more germain to the contents therein. Subjective, I know, but Toxic Smile for some reason does not sit well on the brain, nor in the future, will it be found on the tip of the tongue when recalling. A minor qualm, however, best reserved for late night discussions with like-minded friends over mint mojitos, perhaps.

If you find yourself overjoyed with this band, do check out their previous releases, they are very fine additions for any prog collector. If you start here, continue on with 7, their previous album. I was sorry to read that this current album title was in reference to the fact that the bands co-founding guitarist Uwe was parting with the band.

Toxic Smile has always produced strong work through the years. In fact, the only thing astonishing, as of late, should be why Toxic Smile hasn't garnered a wider mass audience.

Wishful, live concert pairing: Echolyn, Sylvan with t opening, perhaps?

Report this review (#1525023)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
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!!

Report this review (#1527760)
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars All Marek Arnold's projects (at least the three I heard) share the same wild eclecticism, combining heavy theatrical rock with soul, funk, fusion and many other styles. Of these, Toxic Smile has the reputation of being the rockiest, hence the prog metal label (although his other bands have death metal elements in them that this one doesn't). No female soul-styled backing vocals, but it still follows the same eclectic formula. And honestly, though I haven't heard the earliest efforts, styles of Toxic Smile and the Seven Steps to the Green Door seem to be converging more and more with time. This is one has a single 42-minute song - a true song, and not just a medley-type of composition. Despite the attention to vocals usually given by the Arnold musical family and the fine vocalist here as well, there are surprisingly few vocal lines, with most of the album being a kind of a plodding symphonic rock-slash-hard rock jam, with different stylistic interludes. The thing I like is that its not too dense a production, crunchy, but not overlayered, with often just the basic instrumentation playing. As with most 40-minute prog opuses, it has a tendency to unnecessarily drag out the ending, but otherwise a surprisingly coherent work.
Report this review (#1528645)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Alright, let's take this one track at a time (classic joke, right?)

The first track, Farewell, is the only track, with a run time of 43min. This makes it a bit difficult to talk about any particular section without dropping a time-stamp. I tried a few times to describe section by section, but I soon became confused of which sections I was even talking about.

It starts off with a violin solo which sets a nice atmosphere and overarching melody that is revisited many more times throughout the album in different styles. The musicianship is top-notch throughout the album, particularly the rhythm section, which includes the keys at some points, along with some excellent syncopated drumming sections. Between these sections which maintain the atmosphere and melodies introduced at the start of the album there are many eclectic sections, including a funk section which is fantastic, a Pink Floyd-esque minimal bit, sax sections with a jazz fusion vibe, and some heavier rhythm guitar sections which I feel are the weakest parts of the album. I'd like to particularly make mention of the great key solo and drum section at 10:50 that has a nice Marillion feel to it, the outro instrumental with the saxophone which is fantastic, and all around the drumming by Robert Eisfeldt.

Prehaps my biggest gripe with the album is the fact that it is a single track. This is the extreme opposite of the problem that I had with Ayreon's Theory of Everything release. The Theory of Everything basically felt like one long track, but it was criminally cut up into pieces so that every track on the album was best listened to immediately following the previous track as well as listening to the next track. With Farewell, we do have a piece of music that keeps it's atmosphere, melodies, and rhythms throughout its entirety which justifies it as a single track, but do to this it hinders my ability to listen to it. When I pop in the CD for a quick car ride, I only get to hear the beginning bit and because of this, I've probably listen to the first 20min twice as much as the ladder half of the album. There are plenty of parts where the album could have been cut into sections.

Overall this is a great piece of music but it is not without its weaker moments which become exacerbated due to it being a single track. 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#1548542)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German band TOXIC SMILE was formed back in 1996, and is among the veterans of the German progressive rock scene. From 2001 and onward they have released new material at a fairly steady pace, and have five studio productions to their name as of now. "Farewell" is their most recent outing, released by Progressive Promotion Records towards the tail end of 2015.

There aren't too many albums around that consist of a single, epic-length composition, even in this age of musical plenty, and Toxic Smile's addition to that list is a worthwhile one indeed. Mainly alternating between various forms of progressive rock and progressive metal, this is a varied, sophisticated, but also compelling and accessible creation, delivering enough details to keep the busiest brain going but also seeing to it that the themes and motifs used don't stray too far into the challenging territories. This is quality progressive metal of the kind that should have a fairly wide general appeal, despite clocking in at a bit over 42 minutes.

Report this review (#1578089)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2016 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 2015 Toxic Smile returned with their next studio album (which is also currently the most recent, although as I know they were performing at a festival only last weekend so don't read anything into the title). Although the band themselves were the same line-up as the last album, this time they brought in a string ensemble to broaden the sound even further. I also see that Martin Schnella helped out with backing vocals as well as mixing and mastering the album (Martin of course plays with Marek in Seven Steps To The Green Door). Unlike all their other albums, this is not a series of songs, but instead has been released as just one 42-minute-long number. Thematically, it deals with the philosophical point of view that the sense of hearing is better suited to perceive the world than the sense of seeing. The 'Hearer' cam rather delve into the essence of things, penetrate deeper than the 'Seer' who only scratches the surface and is blind to everything that lies beneath.

Musically, this all that I would expect from Toxic Smile, with great depth, presence and dynamics. Uwe is a guitarist of the very finest order, and in Marek he has found a real soul mate. There are very few guitar/keyboard partnerships that really stand the test of time, and while Lord/Blackmore and Hensley/Box are often put out there as fine examples, in reality they didn't last that many years together whereas at this point they had been recording for some fifteen years and have been together nearly 20. Add to that the wonderful bassist that is Robert Brenner (who on this release also provides the artwork), and one of the very best singers around in Larry B., one can only hope that drummer Robert Eisfeldt lasts longs than the previous incumbents.

This is a an epic piece, in format as well as length, yet is always incredibly accessible and enjoyable. There is no doubt in my mind that Toxic Smile are one of the finest prog bands to come out of Europe, and I look forward to the next release with interest. Mind you, I'm not too sure when that is going to be as Marek is already talking to me about the next SSTTGD album, which will be out later this year, so maybe after that? I really hope so.

Report this review (#1914285)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

TOXIC SMILE Farewell ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of TOXIC SMILE Farewell

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives