|06 Dec 2015||Progressive Promotion Records||PPRCD035|
Progressive Promotion Records (PPR CD 035)
Release on December 6, 2015
Mixed/Mastered by Martin Schnella at Overlodge Recording Studio
Thematically, Farewell deals with the philosophic al point of view that the sense of hearing is better suited to perceive the world than the sense of seeing. The "Hearer" can ranter dive into the essence of things, penetrate deeper than the "Seer", who only scratches the surface and is blind for everthing that lies beneath. The protaganist in Farewell, oversaturated and disappointed by our lunatic, screen-related fun society, decides to confide totally to his ears and so finaly be able to "see" better. A "farewell" to old paterns.
New album by Toxic Smile Farewell features only one track, a concept Prog song of more than 42 minutes. Even though I am more of a casual than die hard fan of Neo Prog, I have to admit that after a few spins I was hooked on this CD.
I'm always a bit anxious before I have to listen to a ''more than 30 minutes'' Epic Prog piece. Most of the time I enjoy some of the parts but gradually get less interested. Farely recent examples by bands like Transatlantic (The Whirlwind), Echolyn (Mei) and a number of others reinforce my impression. There are exceptions like Jethro Tull (Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play), Big Big Train (Bard) that I still enjoy listening to today. There are also long concept albums by Marillion (Brave, Misplaced Childhood), Steven Wilson (Hand. Cannot. Erase.) that I really like, but they do not feature one Epic track but a collection of short and long pieces that share a common thread. Farewell fits in the former category. There are no breaks in the piece and the music flows naturally from section to section, the mood and intensity changing to reflect the album's concept (click on the ''Release Information'' tab to learn about it).
I am very much impressed on how the instrumental and vocal sections evolve from beginning to end. In fact I consider Farewell to be one of the Epic lengt piece that does it the best. It really does feel like one track, not like a collage of individal songs linked by instrumental transitions. Farewell also kept my interest from beginning to end. I was even a bit surprised when it ended... already 42 minutes?
Musically I feel that bands like Arena, Fish led Marillion and Unitopia are acceptable references. Lead singer Larry B. is excellent, somewhat of a mixture of David Cousins, Fish and Mark Trueack. All the musicians are great and everyone contibutes to the music, while never trying to overshadow the others. Saxophone, string instruments and dynamic percussions add a special flavour to sections of the album.
All in all I consider Farewell to be the best Neo Prog album I have heard in years. Fans of the genre could buy themselves a great gift to end 2015 or start 2016. In fact I think Farewell is as good as the better efforts by bands like Arena, Unitopia or Transatlantic, to name a few. For myself I will certainly check out Toxic Smile's back catalogue, starting with 7 (2013).
My highest recommendation indeed!!!!