Reviewed by MJBrady on 10 Sep 2006
Toxic Smile is a band that needs to be heard, rarely do bands this skilled and well rounded go unnoticed, yet this appears to be a problem that all to often, happens in progressive music circles, so maybe it's not too late to give a head's up to the unsuspecting prog community to give this band a listen at their website after, or during the reading of this review. Retro Tox Forte is the band's most recent recording, which is late from this reviewers posting, the cd came out in 2004, and the band has a couple cds that preceeded this one. The band is from Germany, and they play a very pleasing form of progressive rock that is aggressive, technically challenging, musically spirited and original.
The band takes a hard rock approach to their progressive leanings, and at times border on a little progressive metal, all done in good taste, some bands that I have heard treading this fine line are: Magic Pie, A Piedi Nudi, Hamadryad or Splinter, Count Toxic Smile as not only a band in this small circle of bands, but argueably the most gifted and memorable of the bunch. I like all the bands listed there, as they portray the ideals of 70's progressive music, paired with the intensity and musicianship of the modern era. Toxic Smile is a group that features great musician skills on every instrument, and meshes these same talents into involved musical creations. Again, why more people in progressive communities are not onto them by now is tragic indeed. I hope this review will get some of the more adventurous listeners out there to take a chance on this fine band.
This is not progmetal, but aggressive, classy hard progrock, vocally they have a non-operatic vocalist in - Larry B., who stays midranged with a hint of Phil Collins/Seal to his sound, they have a nice songwriting style that weaves melody and the more technically challenging instrumentations together with a casual ease. This is not Genesis cloning, despite the vocals of Mr. B. Guitarist - Uwe Reinholz has spellbinding abilities, he along with keyboardist - Marek Arnold, feed off eachothers talents to give the band a full compliment of diverse sound and attack. Both are featured in many settings and moods, doing sound pictures, solos and duets, often reminding of the other great guitar/keys duos in history. The band is not without a solid rhythm section either, both bassist - Robert Brenner and drummer - Antonius Grützner, give Toxic Smile the kind of dynamic that a band of this caliber needs to express their many sounds.
Through the course of this cd, I keep getting lured into the songwriting and singing, only to be amazed at how skilled the musicians are, as the music always takes a songfirst (lyrics, vocals, setting) approach, and eventually leads into some impressive instrumental breaks, like any great progressive band should do. And they do it in such a way as to not become derivative or contrived. They even touch a little on jazz, just for a break in, only to lead back to what they do best.....progressive music.
Hearken back to 2004 if you can, and if you are a progressive music fan, make a list of favorites from that year, if this is not on that top 10 or so, perhaps you have not heard it, as Retro Tox Forte isreally that good of a cd, and my feelings are that Toxic Smile is a band that should appeal to anyone that enjoys a lot of prog with their rock, and some well displayed musicianship along with classic songwriting. The only thing more to add, is go to the link to the bands site, and hear them, lot's of mp3 to download for free, finding the cd may be difficult, but you can contact the band as well by email.