Power of Metal.dk Review

Toxic Smile
Style: Progressive Metal/Rock
Release date: 20 November, 2013
Playing time: 46:38

Recently, I received a surprise package in the mail from Progressive Promotion Records containing a couple different albums. One of those albums was the new Toxic Smile record named "7". I really had no idea what I was getting into here, but rest assured that I was blown away by this album!

Toxic Smile is a band from Germany that, in my opinion, is not quite progressive metal. They are too varied, creative, and simply genius to fall under any one umbrella. While they do have some seriously heavy moments, Toxic Smile is definitely focused more on melody and groove than on being heavy or technical for no real reason. They combine a groovy, active bass guitar with absolutely astounding drums, a plethora of keys with a huge range of styles, jazzy saxophone, gorgeous violin, and some unique vocals. So, they seem to get really heavy when they feel the need, but they have so much else going on that they don't NEED to do it all the time.

Now, I want to talk about a couple of these musicians for a second. Marek Arnold plays the keyboards and the sax. This guy is nothing short of brilliant. His saxophone is strong, and is much more than just some jazzy ditty. This guy leads the music with his sax, such as on the phenomenal track, "Love Without Creation". This track is easily one of my favorites this year. However, his ability on the keys is equally mesmerizing. His unique compositions are vital to the excellence of this album, as he plays great solos and atmosphere. He utilizes an RPI-influenced tone for many of the more atmospheric lines. Now, the singer, Larry B., is also a very talented guy. He has a one-of-a-kind voice that is soft but powerful. It has a vintage tinge to it, but he experiments often. Both Marek and Larry are also members of the amazing band Cyril, a band that has already released one of my top 5 favorite albums in 2013.

As for the other musicians, I am equally impressed with Robert Brenner on bass and Robert Eisfeldt on drums. Their rhythm section is consistently addictive and technically proficient. I especially can't believe how awesome the drums are. Robert E. switches styles constantly, but his drums are definitely not standard metal fare. Lastly, Uwe Reinholz provides some truly stunning guitar solos and riffs. The riffs feel strategically sloppy, as it adds a very raw feeling to the instrumental portions. All of these musicians combine their talents to create one of the best albums I've heard this year.

Whether it's the lead sax on "Love Without Creation", the heavy tone of "Afterglow", or the catchy choruses throughout the album; "7" is no ordinary metal album. Not even close. It has a progginess to it that is usually only found in symphonic or neo-prog, and this is applied to a deeply heavy tone to the music. It's not heavy as in metallic: It's heavy as in darkened and low. I think this suits the album as a whole, too, as the record is generally dark and melancholy, as it explores the human condition somewhat.

Toxic Smile's "7" is one of the best albums of 2013 without a single doubt in my mind. It is fresh, vibrant, hefty, and soulful from beginning to end. It is also unique and sounds like literally no other band. This album needs to be heard by both prog metal fans and prog rocks fans alike.

01. From Inside Out (6:36)
02. Barefooted Man (8:28)
03. Needless (6:24)
04. Love Without Creation (5:40)
05. Rayless Sun (8:00)
06. King of Nowhere (3:56)
07. Afterglow (7:34)
Label: Progressive Promotion Records
Distribution: Progressive Promotion Records
Artwork rating: 80/100
Reviewed by: Jason Spencer
Date: 21 November, 2013
Website: www.toxic-smile.de