Toxic Smile - In Classic Extension

Year of Release: 2006
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 78:31:00

When we look in music history, then we find that only the biggest names were granted the possibility to work with a classical orchestra. Especially if you were a rock band working together with a symphonic orchestra it sounded like blasphemy even when you only suggested it. Classical music was holy and could not be touched, especially not by loud noises that were coming out of the inspiration of long haired brain-dead hippies! I guess it must have been Deep Purple who broke all those barriers when they performed at the famous Royal Albert Hall, delivering a piece that Jon Lord had written especially for "group and orchestra." From then on rock musicians received more respect in the media but also from classical musicians who before had never dared to listen to rock music at all!

These days, thank god, even the youngest classical musician also knows Tool and Red Hot Chili Peppers next to Wagner or Liszt. Their musical baggage has become much more varied, which in the end filters through in the approach of the musical legacy. Nevertheless the cost of working with a classical orchestra is the main reason why only big names are given this opportunity. Sometimes you have to get lucky as Steve Vai found out when he was given the chance to work with the Metropole Orchestra and everything was paid for by the Dutch NPS radio station which in return broadcast the event.

It must have been 2004 when out of the blue I received a promo copy of the album Retro Tox Forte in my letterbox. For me Toxic Smile was a completely unknown German band, yet after a first spin I realized that these guys were damned good. Unlike many bands, they had a great ear for melody as well as arrangements, which meant the result was extremely good. I thought the name of the band would pop up all over the place from then on, but things very much remained quiet, even to this day, which is something I don't understand at all. Hopefully this review will enable the band to get a little bit of well deserved exposure as they truly deserve it.

It was 5th March 2005 when at the Waldenburg Castle the band played a unique concert based around their own material, which even included so far unreleased material. Their entire output had been re-arranged to work with both the orchestra and choir. Lead by conductor Paul Momberger, well known for his work with the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt, 25 young, enthusiastic musicians would complement the unique Toxic Smile compositions. In order to blend well with the sound of the orchestra, guitarist Uwe Reinholz switched to acoustic guitar, bass player Robert Brenner played the double-bass, whilst keyboard player Marek Arnold concentrated on the piano. That way even the well known Toxic Smile songs became as new due to this softer approach. Then again the songs chosen for this unique event were the ones that blended the best with the orchestra.

After the choir delivered an a capella version of "Voix Du Pass?" it's up to the orchestra to deliver the all instrumental "Horns." The band itself only takes to the stage for the third song "Fall Down," which sees singer Larry B deliver a wonderful melody that blends ever so well with the piano and the strings. The instrumental "O.D.," which lasts a little under five minutes on the Retro Tox Forte album almost lasts double here with a lot of input from the orchestra and Marek even leaving his piano in order to join the orchestra on clarinet. From the instrumental swingjazz of "JB" to the slight haze of bossa nova in "Thought Away," is only one step away for these guys. I was quite pleased to see one of the outstanding tracks on the Retro Tox Forte album, "Pyramid," being given the orchestral treatment here.

All in all, a very admirable concert illustrating the versatile skills of Toxic Smile. So far most of the people who know the band have labelled them as prog metal yet after seeing this DVD they will most certainly think again. As far as I know this recording is only available as a DVD, so for those who'd only like to settle for the audio part I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. Mind you, a CD of this concert would work perfectly even if there are parts where the vocals and the guitar are too thin in the mix. Personally I was waiting to see some footage of the rehearsals as no doubt a lot of time has gone into the preparation of this show, and just as I thought I would be left in the dark, it was as if my prayers were heard as, during the credits, parts of the rehearsals are shown on the right hand side of your screen. For me I would have liked to see an interview with the band and the conductor as to how this idea came to be, how the songs were chosen, how they approached the orchestral arrangements, etc? Sadly this is missing from this DVD, which means the band has to answer these questions more than once now! Toxic Smile In Classic Extension is a great calling card for the band, which hopefully will open many doors in the future as this band really deserves much more recognition the world over!

Voix Du Pass? (3:25) / Horns (2:36) / Fall Down (5:39) / Confidence (5:02) / Escape (5:35) / O.T. (9:23) / Cold Run (5:47) / JB (3:02) / Thought Away (4:48) / Steps Back (5:18) / Pyramid (6:19) / Could It Be (5:39) / Medley (9:47)

Robert Brenner - bass
Marek Arnold - piano, clarinet, saxophone
Uwe Reinholz - guitars
Larry B. - vocals
Antonius Gr?tzner - drums

Madness And Despair (2000/2001)
Retro Tox Forte (2004) Overdue Visit (EP) (2009)

Toxic Smile Live At Progparade V (DVD) (2005)
In Classic Extension (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: July 8th 2007
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1724
Language: english


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