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TOXIC SMILE

Progressive Metal • Germany


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Toxic Smile biography
TOXIC SMILE began as a collaboration between keyboard player Marek ARNOLD, drummer Daniel ZEHE and guitarist Uwe REINHOLZ in early 1996 while they were students living in Leipzig Germany. It wasn't until two years later when vocalist Larry B. came aboard that the band finally began developing their trademark sound and taking their music to a whole new level.
The band released their early demo tapes in early 2000 with Robert BRENNER on bass and followed it up with the debut release "Madness And Despair" on October 1st 2000. Their sophomore album "RetroTox Forte" was released on March 15th 2004 followed by a classical project "Waldenburg".

Daniel ZEHE left the band in September 2004 and was quickly replaced by Antonius GRUETZNER. His first gig with the band was released on a limited DVD called "Live At The Progparade V". The release was then followed by a brief hiatus in 2007-2008 where all the members worked on different solo projects. GRUETZNER left the band after recording drums for a four track EP called "Overdue Visit", in June 2009. Robert Eisfeld took over the drum duties on the band's 2011 release of the band's third full length release "I'm Your Saviour".
TOXIC SMILE is a progressive rock/ metal act with a twist. They're clearly trying to embrace the fact that the members are highly inspired by the Neo-Prog of the late '70s, especially that of GENESIS on "Wind & Wuthering". Recommended to fans of Symphonic Prog, Neo-Prog as well as regular Progressive Metal.

Biography by Rune2000

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TOXIC SMILE Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy TOXIC SMILE Music


I'm Your SaviourI'm Your Saviour
CD Baby 2011
$12.28
$11.68 (used)
FarewellFarewell
CD Baby 2015
$14.48
$9.99 (used)
I'm Your Saviour by Toxic Smile (2011-05-04)I'm Your Saviour by Toxic Smile (2011-05-04)
CD Baby
$36.99
Overdue Visit Ep by Toxic Smile (2009-06-16)Overdue Visit Ep by Toxic Smile (2009-06-16)
CDBY
$44.00
$1,049.90 (used)
M.A.D. by TOXIC SMILE (0100-01-01)M.A.D. by TOXIC SMILE (0100-01-01)
Progressive Promotion Records
$23.39
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CD Baby 2016
$9.99
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TOXIC SMILE discography


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TOXIC SMILE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 12 ratings
M.A.D. (Madness and Despair)
2000
3.77 | 20 ratings
RetroTox Forte
2004
3.58 | 26 ratings
I'm Your Saviour
2011
3.95 | 53 ratings
7
2013
3.93 | 55 ratings
Farewell
2015

TOXIC SMILE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TOXIC SMILE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.09 | 4 ratings
Toxic Extension
2006

TOXIC SMILE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TOXIC SMILE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 10 ratings
Overdue Visit
2009

TOXIC SMILE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Farewell by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.93 | 55 ratings

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Farewell
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

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.

 I'm Your Saviour by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.58 | 26 ratings

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I'm Your Saviour
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Well, Toxic Smile may not exactly be Spinal Tap, but they do seem to have an issue with drummers and by the time they came back with their third studio album in 2011, seven years on from 'Retrotox Forte', they were also on their third drummer with the rest of the line-up remaining the same. It was now some fifteen years since the band had started, and they are clearly on the same path as they have been throughout namely their existence, namely progressive metal that also contains a large amount of dynamics, mostly from the high use of piano and the bass sometimes taking centre stage, with the wonderful vocals of Larry B. over the top of them all.

Toxic Smile have created their own style, which although often likened in some ways to Dream Theater, is actually very much their own. They mix some shredding guitars with melodic passages, piano, a guitarist and keyboard player that have been as one since the very beginning and all the years of recording and playing together has just made that bond ever tighter. They rarely produce really lengthy songs, instead concentrate on producing punchy material with hooks and melodies that sometimes moves into almost pop areas, whereas at others it is so complex and convoluted that on-one could ever mistake them for anything apart from a highly adept prog metal act. Their previous studio album is my least favourite, but a lot has happened with the band between that one and this, and 'I'm Your Saviour' more than makes up for any shortcomings that one may have had.

 Overdue Visit by TOXIC SMILE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
4.23 | 10 ratings

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Overdue Visit
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars Some five years after their last studio release, Toxic Smile finally returned in 2009 with a four-track EP. This saw the first studio appearance of drummer Antonius Gruetzner, who has already become known to fans due to his part in the 'In Classic Extension' EP. Although this only contains four songs, and is a fraction under 23 minutes in length, this is definitely one of my very favourite releases by the band. It is almost as if they decided to distil and funnel everything they were known for into a small number of songs, so instead of getting a release by Toxic Smile, it was Toxic Smile Concentrated. Although Antonius was new, he had already been in the band for a few years so knew what was expected, and sits at the back creating rhythms for the others to play against or with as the need arises. Robert Brenner is one of my favourites bassists, seamlessly moving between playing a support or lead role, thumping in the backbone, or keeping up with the guitar, or adding nuances and dynamics all his own. Then we have guitarist Uwe Reinholz, a master of his instrument who provides plucked acoustic, or heavy riffs, or can shred like an absolute bastard when he needs to. This of course leads us to keyboard player Marek, who uses piano more than probably any other keyboard player in the prog metal field, with all the delicacy and emotion that entails. Finally at the front of all of this, and rising above, is singer Larry B., who can be Roger Chapman, Matthew Parmenter, Peter Gabriel, Michael Sadler and so many more, often at the same time.

Just four songs, two of which are rocky, with two that are far more balladic, but for the me the highlight is not the one that many other reviewers seem to concentrate on (which is opener 'Solitudes Sphere' if you must know, an absolute belter), but 'Freezing Rain'. Marek provides beautiful piano, while Larry's vocals are full of emotion. I can play this song on repeat, all day, and not get tired of it. There is a majesty and passion within this that is far more than any written words can ever convey. If there was any justice in the world this would have been a hit single and known by millions, but as it is, us lucky few who have come across this can relish in knowing that we have been privileged to have heard a song that is perfect in every way, and that is an incredibly rare thing indeed. Uwe, Robert and Antonius play their parts incredibly well, knowing that there are times when the right thing to do is not be involved at all, and Marek and Larry are left alone to create a masterpiece.

 Toxic Extension by TOXIC SMILE album cover DVD/Video, 2006
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Toxic Extension
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I'm not sure if this has been released on CD, as the only reviews I have seen are for the DVD, but I only have the audio files so will have to treat this as an album. I'm not sure if new drummer Antonius Gruetzner knew exactly what he was walking into with the first Toxic Smile release after he joined, but in many ways this was a very special event indeed. There have been many instances over the years when a rock band has joined with an orchestra to perform a more symphonic version of their music (Kiss, Metallica), or even performed a totally new piece of music (Deep Purple), but in each instance the band stayed electric. But, Toxic Smile decided to do something quite different, and instead put away the rock instruments and instead went acoustic, and arranged songs from their first two albums to work in a brand new context.

If that wasn't enough, they decided to perform this in front of 50 invited guests in a castle! Paul Momberger of the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt ( who are viewed as one of the top crossover orchestras in Europe, formed in 1996) was conductor for the evening, while the orchestra itself mostly consisted of students and graduates of the Weimar Conservatory. The Condé vocal ensemble were also in support (and actually open music), while Robert Brenner showed what an impact he can have on double bass, Antonius took to the task with relish, Uwe was obviously at home playing an acoustic in a very different style to the way he approaches electric, while Marek is as happy on an acoustic grand piano as he is on banks of keyboards (also providing saxophone and clarinet). Then to top it all we have Larry B., who interestingly came across a little different in this environment than in the studio, as when he is singing rough and raw there is more than a little bit of Roger Chapman about his performance, and when he moves into falsetto it feels very natural indeed.

This album, in many ways, is for those who are already aware of Toxic Smile and their music, but even if they are new, a listener will get a great deal out of it as it is just a seamless marriage of forms that it is almost impossible to think of them in their much heavier format. The amount of work must have been substantial, and this album was self-released without record label support, so all power for the band for undertaking an experiment and risk that certainly paid out in spades. A truly magical album.

 RetroTox Forte by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.77 | 20 ratings

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RetroTox Forte
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars The same line-up were back for the second album, 'Retrotox Forte', released in 2004. Here we find the band starting to spread their wings into other areas, and while the progressive elements are still as strong as they were on the debut, Marek was also bringing in his more jazzy influences and providing saxophone as well as keyboards. Of all their releases this is the one that I feel doesn't quite work in terms of what they were trying to do. It is almost as if they were pushing too hard to expand on what had gone before, not settling into a full band identity, and losing some of their way at times.

But, when they are on song there are few who can match them, with Marek and Uwe reminding me very strongly indeed of Ken Hensley and Mick Box, not so much in the music they were producing ,but in the way that they were so in tune with each other's thoughts that they were able to sound like a single musician, so fully were they aligned. Songs such as "Pyramid" is a classic in anyone's books, moving from prog metal into more emotional styles and then back again, riffs and runs crunching, with Robert Brenner again providing a very strong counterpoint with some great bass. Larry B. has a great voice, and here he stays far more within his range, and is much happier for it. One can imagine him being onstage with a smile right across his face as Daniel locks it in and then lets the other three musicians just go hell for leather, attempting to outdo each other yet always locked in to the complex arrangements. Overall this may be my least favourite Toxic Smile album, but is still one that is enjoyable on so many levels.

 M.A.D. (Madness and Despair) by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 12 ratings

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M.A.D. (Madness and Despair)
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I have been having quite a few conversations with keyboard/sax player Marek Arnold about his various musical outlets, and he recently provided me with access to virtually everything that has been released by Toxic Smile. Prior to this I had only heard their fourth album, '7' (which was their seventh overall release), so I was looking forward to this and jumped into the task with relish. For those who haven't come across them before, the band started as a collaboration between Marek, drummer Daniel Zehe and guitarist Uwe Reinholz in early 1996 when they were still students, really coming together as unit two years later when they were joined by singer Larry B. 'M.A.D' was their debut album, released in 2000, but what I am playing is the 2011 reissue which contains two additional songs, one of which is a cover (more of that later).

Musically these guys are at the intersection of prog metal, heavy prog, symphonic, crossover, neo-prog and more straightforward hard rock. At times they are reminiscent of classic Saga, at others Dream Theater, while IQ have also had an impact, as has Steve Howe. What really ties this all together is the way that Marek and Uwe are joined at the hip, while bassist Robert Brenner is incredibly important to the overall mix with a strong warm bass that can be sat quietly at the back or also provide touches right at the front to provide a completely different and unexpected emphasis. The music swirls, it moves, it switches and loops like a rollercoaster, and right at the very front of this is Larry B., totally in control. He can be emotional, he can be rough and raw, or pure and melodic. The only time he comes unstuck is when the band play 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart'. While the arrangement is interesting (I personally would have stuck with the harder riffs they used in the introduction), Larry is singing at the very limit of his range and has to go into falsetto. It would have been more interesting if they had moved away from trying to replicate Anderson and instead did something in a lower register to provide a harshness.

But, that and the sound quality of the snare drum are the only low points of what is a great debut album, and I find it strange that it has taken nearly twenty years for me to come across it and that there isn't a single review of it on ProgArchives! Well, both of these issues have been rectified now. Well worth investigating.

 Overdue Visit by TOXIC SMILE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
4.23 | 10 ratings

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Overdue Visit
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars This is Toxic Smile flexing their facial muscles on an EP following a three-year break after their well-received RetroTox Forte album and before the release of I'm Your Savior in 2011. Stylistically this is a typical Toxic Smile accessible mash-up of various harder and softer stuff, maybe less heavy than some other releases. Solitudes Sphere is probably the most interesting track here, packing many lead themes and solos in 7 minutes. Were it arranged heavier, it would make a prog metaller proud. The rest are a take, as another reviewer noted, on the mid-70s Genesis proggy pop. I like Peak of Delight as well, a happy and punchy tune.
 RetroTox Forte by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.77 | 20 ratings

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RetroTox Forte
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Another eclectic showcase from the Marek Arnold musical factory based in Germany. And at the time he was just getting started. RetroTox mixes vintage hard rock (bordering on metal at times) with classic prog, soft rock, funk, fusion, classical pretensions, vocal mannerisms and even rap. And the feeling I get from this particular album is of musicians having lots of fun doing it. The star of the show is Marek Arnold with his very varied synth sounds, but Uwe Reinholz also serves up some delicious licks, and bass is always featured prominently in their music. Family bands to check out are Seven Steps to the Green Door, Flaming Row, Cyril, and even more.
 I'm Your Saviour by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.58 | 26 ratings

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I'm Your Saviour
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Toxic Smile is classified under progressive metal. I guess they use loud guitars a lot. Liquid Wall is probably the closest here that they come to the likes of Dream Theater with their pseudo-classical bombast. But that's only a part of the story. After all, their background is academic. Half of the songs on I'm Your Saviour are in the vein of the opener - densely packed, synth-led and bombastic. But the other 4/9ths are pure adult pop - from the acoustic Walked by Fear to the requisite jazzy Pride and Joy. Their variety has always been impressive, but sometimes I wish for more adventurism within the songs of I'm Your Saviour. Good and underappreciated band, though.
 7 by TOXIC SMILE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 53 ratings

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7
Toxic Smile Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars No Toxic Smile albums are exactly alike - from the Genesis-Queen hybrid of their early days to the 40-minute of a classic rock jam of Farewell. 7 is an art rock/hard rock hybrid. And boy is the production loud! But not in a wall of sound type, but where you rather get to hear all the instruments, which share equal footing between them. Songs typically alternative harder and softer passages and consist of grab-you-by-the-balls stop-start, organ-backed riffs doubled by a classical instrument - a sax, violin or piano (each song has a different arrangement) and coupled with a very strong bass. Despite the average 7-minute length, structurally songs don't hold surprises, but do lock you into a monster groove, kind of an artsy AC/DC.
Thanks to bonnek for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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