.: DREAM REALITY
:. .: VISIONARY FOOLS
:. .: SECRETS
:. .: PLAYGROUNDS:.
.: THE THRILL OF NOTHGINGNESS :.
"This is pretty wild stuff. Layer after layer of keyboards,
two drummers, bass, guitar and
vocals doing darkly melodic prog with a Peter Hammill-meets-prog-funk
in spots. I love it!
A song like Take-off has a little bit reminiscent of Hammill, Yes,
Camel and Zappa all in one piece.
You own it to yourself to get Gaze. It's a no-brainer folks!"
:: PROGRESSION ::
"The eleven tracks (66 minutes) range from quite good to excellent
and makes this CD into one
of the strongly recommended ones on the present sympho/prog market"
:: NEBULA TIMES ::
"Heavy symf in the U.K. tradition"
:: TARKUS ::
"The fact that the bitter Scandinavian cold is good
for the composing talent is once again proven
with the band Cross who with Gaze deliver their
fourth CD. In the keyboard section I hear
a little bit of Dave Greenslade (one of my all time favourites!)
whilst in the darker passages
in true crimson style are alternated with the more "modern"
sound of Rush, IQ, Echolyn,
Spock's Beard and Saga and a pinch of UK.
The outstanding guitar work sometimes brings the music in the direction
of It Bites however
Cross offers their very own style.
All by all a very strong release and a very pleasant surprise
by a band i never before had
the pleasure to encounter"
:: PROG 'N' ROLL ::
"The new album gives us music that is both thrilling and
:: FRENCH PROG MAGAZINE ::
"One of the most exciting albums for a very long time. It is
worth buying for the final track alone, Extrovert, whose song format
is simular to Starless with a phenomenal finale. Very highly recommended".
:: WONDROUS STORIES ::
"Cross, the man who gave the band it's name, does all the guitar
work and sounds like Holdsworth/Fripp. There are no favourite songs
I can point. All of the songs are of same high standard".
:: BACKGROUND MAGAZINE ::
"I'm impressed! It's a perfect mix between the prog-rock of
with some neoprog influences added to it".
:: MARGEN ::
:: PROGRESSOR ::
"As a vocalist Cross is like-or-hate type who press his abilities
to the edge. I like his somewhat gritty sound. At this moment I
have listened to Gaze more then ten times and it's an album that
find it's way into the bunch of albums that I (without hesitation)
like to listen to".
:: THE COMPANY SCANDINAVIA ::
"The album sounds somewhat dark somewhat heavy, but also very
powerful. Quality of the compositions is very good with the longer
track Extrovert entertaining to the end."
:: DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGE ::
"Extrovert is a truly impressive piece of music. I advice you
to give 'Gaze' a serious listening too, track back to Dream Reality,
and then - like me - sit back and wait for the next Cross album."
:: ALTERNATE VIEW::
^ Top of page
"From the intro of music Changing at just 1:20 long I knew that this
album was special. I loved the bands album 'Gaze' and my faith in
them has been carried forward, especially since seeing them at Rotherham
Rocks. Cross are a stunning tight unit and YET another swedish prog
rock band that are a wonderful breath of fresh air. All elements are
there without an over abundance of predictability - just try Fire
for starters. Love this one to death". Wondrous Stories "A symphonic
pearl with melodies and quality at the fore."
:: MINDVIEW ::
"In general, the sound on this CD is pretty dynamic, with strong beats,
flowing and fiercy guitar play (sometimes evoking David Gilmour) and
rather bombastic keyboards."
:: BACKGROUND MAGAZINE ::
"Armoury Show is a song not unlike the latest 'Calling all stations',
Genesis album, dare I say it a tad more heavy and certainly more interesting.
Powerful, atmospheric, imaginative, rock and features some highlydesireble
keyboard sounds which may be of interest to Sequences readers. More
than seventy minute's worth of impressive music."
:: SEQUENCES ::
"Fire is a huge thirteen and a half minutes of what sounds like three
or four prog rock songs. The first part fairly rocks along with some
unpredictible breaks and use of melodies. About five minutes into
the track the whole atmosphere changes and we a much more laid back
section with Cross' guitars and André's synths at the fore, a couple
of minutes later the whole thing pics up with more excellent guitar
work. Run for rescue shows the power of the new Cross line-up. Dream
reality is another monster song. Yearning is a guitar instrumental
with synths and Hadders gong adding the only distraction. Three and
a half minutes of sheer guitar mastery"
:: ALTERNATE VIEW ::
'Borne by the success with the faboulus gaze, the swedish multi-instrumentalist
Cross is experiencing air under his wings, and offers through this
"best of" a selection of the best compositions from his first three
albums, which today are - unfortunally! - sold out.'
:: LE BOUCHE Á OREILLE ::
^ Top of page
|"After the short keyboard and guitar instrumental, the 56 second Deep,
with barely a break to catch your collective breathes we launch straight
into In a question mark. At over nine minutes this is one of
the longest tracks on the album, and again, the band use the time
well, developing themes and melody lines throughout. Again, it's hard
to define the mood of the song - one time melancholy, the next up-beat,
one tome slow and mellow, the next an inticate instrumental;this is
what progrock is all about! New dimensions closes the album. This
is without doubt the strongest track on the album. It does take a
little more to get into, but it seems the final evolution of the "new-Cross
sound - all new stuff, meshing seam- lessly with elements of the darker
"old"-Cross sound. The instrumentation is superb thriughout - solos
are there to enhance the composition and fall into the song without
appearing to be there at all. What a way to finish an album!"
:: ALTERNATE VIEW ::
"Have a go on these swedes because they certainly deserves your
:: PROG-PT ::
"The opening track The Riddle starts with some wonderful keyboards
and lovely percussion that overall gives a very atmospheric feeling.
This is followed by some intricate acoustic guitar. The vocals are
powerful and emotional. this track has a wonderful melody, but on
some places takes on a more of a dark feeling to it. In a question
mark starts with a heavier guitar sound that mellows out to some excellent
keyboards. There's also some fine bass lines and there are many changes
in direction, mood and tempo throughout this 9 minute plus track.
There's a superb guitar solo here. Great rhytm, strong beat and towards
the end there's some more excellent keyboards. The final track New
Dimensions is without doubt my favourite.Starting with some lovely
keyboards which gives quite an atmospheric feel to the track, but
it's not too long before the rest of the band come in. Throughout
this track there are many changes in tempo and direction. Great guitar
and keyboards. Here we have an excellent album and one that grows
on you the more you listen to it. If you enjoy good progrock then
this one comes highly recommended!"
:: STORMBRINGER ::
"Whilst in the past, influences from Twelfth Night and Pink Flod have
been noticed, Cross has grown, and today you find a descent amount
of Yes and Genesis elements in their music. Especially in White lies,
dark truth the keyboard sounds enormously like Tony Banks during his
Wind and wuthering period. The repetitive pattern of In a question
mark contains a fair share of Yes. While guitarist/singer/leader
Hansi Cross may have gained some extra kilos, the music on Visionary
Fools can certainly be called the very best the band has ever produced.
Truly a wonderful and surprising album!"
:: PROGRESSIVE WORLD ::
"This is soaring prog, with large elements of Eighties Genesis and
Pendragon, and at some points, it is almost Camel-esque. While there
are many intricate passages, the focus is much more on songs with
a purpose instead of meandering aimlessly. While the vocals are important,
the main elements are the interplay between the guitar and keyboards
along with some very strong, almost tribal rhythms. An album that
I have enjoyed playing immensely."
:: FEEDBACK ::
^ Top of page
"Another stunning Cross album. If you
haven't discovered Cross yet, I really think you are
missing something rather special"
::ROCKHAVEN: ALTERNATE VIEW::
"Cross is a Swedish band based in Stockholm led by Hansi Cross
(guitars, synthesizers & vocals).
They play intelligent symphonic neoprog based on
a heavy yet melodic guitars and atmospheric, swirling keyboards.
The other members are Tomas Hjort, whose distinct drumming often
adds an even more bombastic feel to the overall sound, and Lollo Andersson (basses,
taurus). To me this band was a very pleasant surprise indeed. I can't say
what their earlier works sound like, but this, in my view, is a very competent release. The
musicians are solid and the vocals of Hansi Cross are also to my liking.
To sum this up this is an album which I can honestly recommend to
any neoprog fan and also, to some extent, to those into more traditional progrock"
"An excellent piece of work!
"This trio of prog-rocksters, I assure you, is very impressive
with a heavy influence of Rush but more progressive 70's style with great keyboards and guitar
7 songs of downright good music and recommended for guitar enthusiasts
"There is surely an intentional influence
behind this album, with some Mellotron, Taurus pedals and some other vintage keyboards, guitar sounds and
arrangements that sounds as early GENESIS.
The music is loud, with a rich sound and sometimes with the addition
of some harder elements as in, for instance, "The Core" which also contains
a small FM edge in the vocals that can also be heard from time to time in other parts of
"Changed Reality" has some really fine moments with luxurious
keyboards mixed with deep bass pedals.
"Awakening" contains a very good and long guitar solo
sounding like Hackett did in the past. Very good work here by Hansi. He does the same in "Welcome to Utopia", the last and
longest song on the album
clocking in at 14:16 minutes. It's a very fine album that I Highly Recommend."
"Cross is a progressive rockband with a dark sound and
actually hard to compare.
They have their own style which will be appreciated by most rocklovers.
in silence" is a good example of their sound, because this
song starts a bit dark and 90's,
but towards the end it's a good neo-prog song with even some 80's
Another worthy addition for the fans of progressive rock, although
CROSS doesn't sound
like your typical neo-prog act, but that's maybe the reason why
you should buy this!"
(Points: 8 out of 10)
"If you like the Swedish school (bands as Galleon and Twin
Age) you must listen to
"Secrets" too. Nice progrock with long melodic guitarsolos
and a lot of keyboards".
"The highlight comes right at the end with the long "Welcome
To Utopia". A solitary synthintroduces the song creating an ideal soundtrack for an imaginary
film. The drums kind of settle themselves around Hansi's guitar solo. Then it's a gradual
build up in the vocal department, culminating in the strongest chorus on the album. Towards
the end Hansi once again illustrates what a fine guitarist he really is"
::PROGRESSIVE WORLD: PROGNROLL::
"4.5 out of 5"
"I liked this album from the first time I played it, and even
after three weeks of fairly
listening I'm not beginning to tire of it, quite the opposite in
fact. In view of this I have
no hesitation at all in suggesting that if you enjoy good progressive
music that makes
good use of both guitar and keyboards that you give "Secrets"
a listen - the chance are
that you won't be dissapointed"
."..a very good progressive record sounding a bit like Genesis directly
after Gabriel left. If you like that kind of prog, don't hesitate
this may be a diamond to you."
"You should listen to the 14 minutes "Welcome to Utopia". You will
not be disappointed and you'll notice that Cross doesn't betry his
Swedish background, a prolific nation when it comes to high quality
progressive rock. Check this out!"
"Swedish multi-instrumentalist Hansi Cross has been around
for a long time, offering us some outstanding symphonic gems over
the years. Genesis influences are apparent in the underlying keyboard
segments for "Bleeding In Silence" before the song becomes
more complex once mellotron sets in and drum breaks are scattered
all over the place.
However, if you think Cross is merely a Genesis clone, then think
again, ecause "The Core" not only holds some King Crimson
influences but contains enough time-signature jumps to keep you
busy for the rest of the year. The guitar parts in "Awakening"
once again come very close to the best of Steve Hackett, with an
atmosphere to be found in the A Trick Of The Tail vein. Also "Changed
Reality" still has those Tony Banks arrangements, whilst the
hoarse voice of Hansi complements the music perfectly.
"To my ears "Secrets" is definitly the best Cross album so far.
A good mix between 70's sound and neoprogressive elements."
"The bottom line is this: if you like Spock's Beard, Flower Kings,
Marillion and basically any
other like prog rock band, you will like CROSS, Hansi Cross's band.
The music on here is fantastic - bright, clourful, with just right
the edge. I wouldn't quite call Cross a prog-metal band, but there
is an edge to the music - here I would have to say like Arena. Keys
take the lead on the instrumental "Awakening", though the guitars
are hardly shortchanged. Cross is equal adept at both, though beeing
more a guitar fan than a keys fan, it's the guitar i tend to follow
more closely - so, yeh, Cross is getting close to be added to my
list of guitar heroes. The album closes with the 14-plus minute
"Welcome to Utopia". High pitched (but not too high) Tangerine Dream-like
keyboards lead us in, parping over a synth wash that take the lead
only, after some slightly militaristic percussion comes in. By about
two and a half-minutes, it's the singing Cross' guitar. "Utopia
goes through several moods, my favourite beeing the harmonizing
vocals - von Panajott guests on this track."
::PROGRESSIVE WORLD: THE MUSIC BOX::
"This is a worthwhile album of refreshing prog, that blends history
of the likes of Wind and wuthering-Genesis (and subsequent eras)/Yes
(Drama-era) with more modern neo-prog, albeit in a pleasing variety
of rockier guises and avoiding the usual neo-prog trap of each track
sounding samey or synthy-slushy." "I'd say those who like Ines,
Galleon or Tantalus but also the harder prog rock sound, would definitly
enjoy the musicianship"
"The most recent album from Swedish proggers Cross is easily the
best of theirs that I have heard to date. Intricate and sometimes
quite menacing (check out opener "Bleeding in silence") with good
musical interplay. All fans of modern prog will enjoy this album"
"Cross is Hansi (guitars, synthesizers and vocals), Tomas Hjort
(drums and percussion), Lollo Andersson (bass) with with a substantial
and appreciable aid of Olov Andersson on mellotron (oh yes) and
other synthesizers. Some days ago I interchanged e-mails with Hansi
and I mentioned to him that his style of playing guitar was very
distinguishing, and I maintain it. This makes him, in my humble
opinion, one of the best guitarist on the present neoprogressive
scene (along with Simon Brezinsky of Polish group Abraxas). Check
the solos in "The Core" and "Awakening". Perhaps this has been made
before, but the work presented and displayed here is sincere and
very well done. I will never get enough of works like this one."
"A very good album"
"Four years ago i reviewed the CD "Gaze" by a band called CROSS,
then unknown to me. in the review i compared them to King Crimson
and UK. I really enjoyed that album! Of course I wondered if "Secrets
would be as strong as "Gaze. When i heard the opening track "Bleeding
in silence" i knew that nothing had changed. They even have grown!
The King Crimson-sound has stayed and I also hear some influences
of Genesis...just as if Tony Banks had joined the band. Beautiful!
But also the rest of the material is outstanding. Especially the
final track, named aptly "Welcome to Utopia", is a real beauty.
It lasts almost 15 minutes and is a musical showcase of the talents
of Cross." **** (Henri)
"...with Secrets, Swedish band Cross had come up with a winner."
"Four of these seven tracks clock in beyond 8 minutes, giving the
band plenty of room to excercise its imagination amidst Hansi Cross's
tasteful crooning and lyrical guitar work. the album's masterwork
is its 14-minute closer "Welcome to Utopia", which also brings out
the group's symphonic side. A solid album all around"
"Maybe it would be undescent to use the term neo-progressive
rock just to label off Cross as a band.
I think they have lots of more flavour
spirit and momental prestigousness than the average bag of neoprog
.: PLAYGROUNDS :.
"As with 2000's Secrets, the highlight
is the musicianship, which is of a classic modern progressive rock
mould, with beautifully expressive guitars (Hansi Cross), shimmering
percussion (Tomas Hjort and Cross), throbbing bass lines (Lollo
Andersson), and beds of keyboards (Olov Andersson (Spektrum, Grand
Stand and Cross). On the whole, Playgrounds is very good release,
with a great sound (especially, for me, Cross' guitar playing).
It's stronger in the instrumental passages, which make it an album
to not overlook."
RATING: 4,5 of 5
"Hansi has developed the sound of Cross over the years so that
although there are sections that one might say has been influenced
by Yes, Genesis, IQ and Jadis this is a band that is developing
very much its own sound and must be seen as an important band in
their own right.
This is one of the prog albums that is very accessible first time
it's played, with lots going on, but the more it is played the more
the layers become apparent. The guitar is an important instrument,
but in the style of Steve Hackett opposed to crunching riffs. Harmony
vocals and well-structured songs make this a joy to listen to, and
any fan of intricate prog will enjoy this."
:: FEEDBACK ::
"Cross, and especially Hansi Cross is
to this reviewer one of Swedens greatest artists. "Playgrounds
once again set the standard. Majectic, powerful and very melodic
prog. Long tracks with emotions, which Cross is known and loved
for. Once again Hansi Cross mix it perfectly between his guitar,
vocals & the ever present majectic power of luch keyboards.
Emotions are important and here they, once again, will make you
ever so happy. Hansi Cross voice is very strong and emotional.
Cross is a very strong outfit, who have made many albums over the
years. All with great love to the genre. Playgrounds
establice Cross as one of Swedens greatest acts. Here youll
get Cross at the top of there great capability to perform and play
with power, many bands could learn from. Olov Andersons keys are
once again fantastic. Playgrounds is fantastic listening
to the first time. After several spins, its clear that there
is more to it, than that. Youll find layers of great stuff,
once you let your mind decide, to give Playgrounds another
Rating: 4 (of 5) planets
"With Playgrounds, Swedish band Cross happily brings
all the familiar elements to bear: dominant "widdly" keyboard
texturing, soaring lead guitar lines, yearningly evocative vocal
delivery and meter changes galore. You want pleasing melodies? Plenty
of those here. And how about
epics? Those too (of course!),
via four tracks clocking in past 7 minutes, inclusing the 10-minute
"A new beginning" and the 15-minute "Mesmerizing
enterprise".A full, polished and very proggy work.
:: PROGRESSION ::
"One of last year's finest releases
was without any doubt the album made by "Spektrum". One
of the key members in this project was Hansi Cross. In BM# 82 (June
2003) you could read an interview that I did with this talented
musician. I also talked about his own band Cross and the plans of
a new band album and now "Playgrounds" is here. It is
obvious that the new album is made in the same style as the last
couple of Cross albums. This means that we can hear no weak tracks
on "Playgrounds". Everything is of a very high level and
that's just how it has to be, quality prog of a very high standard.
The only negative remark that I can mention is the keyboard sound
they used on two tracks ("A New Beginning" and "Mesmerizing
Enterprise"). It is the same sound, which they used on the
Spektrum album. Listen to the intro of "Now" and you know
what I mean. But it will certainly not change my verdict. "Playgrounds"
is a very, very, very strong album. Almost a five stars record!
Certainly one of the best releases of 2004 so far."
:: BACKGROUND MAGAZINE ::
"Swedish 'Cross', a symphonic project from Hansi Cross, has
produced through the years a respectable discography. But unlike
many other bands, Cross has succeeded to improve the quality throughout
each release, and this seems to be the case again with 'Playgrounds'.
Influences from the past like Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, etc are
now reunited into a very own sound, neo-progressive symphonic rock
as this seems to become typical for Scandinavian bands. On this
album Cross has found the perfect balance between the vocal and
instrumental pieces. Some will have difficulties with that raw,
sometimes complaining voice of Hansi, but after a few listenings
you will find out that his voice fits perfectly the instrumental
parts. The voice of Lizette gives it a Spektrum feeling, although
Cross' music is a lot more risky than the aforementioned Swedish
musical project of the Progress Records label. The beautiful varied
guitar solos remain the most striking on this album, the influence
of top guitarists of the seventies is obvious. Playgrounds is probably
the best album, that the band has produced so far: a promise for
Rating: 8,5 of 10
:: PROG-NOSE ::
"The heart of the album is "Mesmerizing Enterprize"
which has over 15 minutes of everything that a good neoprog piece
need. Tension, good solos, passable singing and successful melodies,
and in the case of CROSS quality is clearly over the average."
Rating: 8/10 POINTS
:: MELODIC JOURNEY ::
"The 7 songs rocks beautifully hard, have gigantic, majestic
mountains of keyboards and wonderful harmonies arranged in tautly
organized structures. Ambitious neoprog meeting the stronger conceptions
of old school prog putting much attention on the keyboard work and
done with great success. At times reminding a bit of Genesis' "Wind
and wuthering". but the music is independent actually, has
it's own character and flair and a lovely Symphonischen Bombast.
In addition to this a driven, complex impact , with dramatic bass
runs and hard guitar work is carried through out the entire album.
Great compositions, instrumentation rich of variation and an abundance
of calmer and louder vital ideas make the songs variated. Above
all, the keyboard harmonies, sometimes more dark and sometimes a
bit, almost jazzy, and lighter, but always fantastically fat, are
easily slipping into the ears. Best example of this is the last
track, "Mesmerizing Enterprize", with it's 15 minutes,
offering perfect maintenance. I can only recommend."
:: RAGAZZI ::
"The sound on Playgrounds is clearly rooted in the influences
of the progressive classics. The Moog and Mellotron sounds, the
long guitar and sax solos, the extended instrumentals and the long
song lengths yield 7 tracks of rich symphonic music with structures
and phrasings that recall both the seventies and the best of nineties-neo.
While there's no disputing the quality of the musicianship, and
the guitarwork is particularly pleasing. Playgrounds is essentially
6 tracks averaging 9 minutes and a 1-minute intermezzo. The three
10-plus-minute songs are wonderful exercises in well composed, flowing
prog." Rating: 4/5
:: SEA OF TRANQUILITY ::
"I can't stand this redicolously bad
:: PROGWERELD ::
"The Neo-prog fans will love songs like "Let the play
begin...", "Dejá vu", "...and
enter the game" and the 15 minutes counting closing track
"Mesmerizing enterprize" (which reveals a big 80s
sound by the way!), as they reflect that typical IQ sound every
fan of this genre loves so much. With this new album they prove
to be one of the better bands in the genre after the leading acts
like IQ, ARENA, PENDRAGON and PALLAS."
Points: 8.3 out of 10
:: STRUTTERZINE ::
"Playgrounds contain very good stuff
and it's recommended to all IQ, Genesis and Pink Floyd fans."
:: TALES OF WONDER ::
"Already the opener Let The Play Begin convince
with it's piano arpeggio and a totally superb refrain. Hansi always
seemed an outstanding guitar player and an emotional solo confirmes
that phrase already after 3 minutes into the album. Keyboard freaks
also get a pre-taste of the quality of the album with the Banks-like
synth solo. With the somewhat heavy but nevertheless beautiful,
melodic instrumental song Déja Vù even
the mellotron friends are served. The opening of A new Beginning reminds strongly of Now on the Spektrum album. Here also
the Gilmour-stylish singing of Hansi is noticeable to me, and of
course the sensitive guitar sounds. Another highlight is the second
instrumental composition The Battle OF Thalÿma.
Synthesizer fanfares invite to the opening, before a beautiful melody
on guitar and keyboard introduce the main topic of the song. Somehow
the refrain melody does not get out of my head. A worthy successor
of one the best tracks from "Secrets"- Awakening.
It also has an amazing violin-solo and such things is always pleasing
to me. After the scarcely 10-minute+ "Enter The Game",
which triumphs with a Spektrum-sounding keyboard solo, we occur
the short intermezzo "Fjärilshonung" before entering
the World of Epics. "Mesmerizing Enterprize" presents
itself very variedly. It is rocky, pompous, atmospheric, and at
the same time also somewhat catchy. The listener gets much required.
Result: "Playgrounds" is probably the best work from these
swedes. Fans of the melodic British influenced prog music will not
come around this album. If you like Grand Stand, Galleon or Spektrum,
then you might also favor CROSS." Rating: *****
:: PROGGIES ::
"This album has something that forces me to listen to it. Playgrounds
will not get the price for the "Most surprising CD of 2004".
But is that a must? I drive with one arm on the steering wheel and
the other one hanging over the passenger seat and enjoy what I hear.
No traffic-jam today? Damn."
:: IO PAGES ::
"The opening song 'Let the play begin' has hard and soft prog-moments
that keep you in total suspense. Cross's vocals are also full of
emotion, harmony and versatility and remind me of progressive rock's
music's finest hour. Two impressive songs that stand out are 'A
New Beginning' and 'Mesmerizing Enterprize' which are Cross's most
challenging and intriguing, whereas the short instrumental interludes
- 'Dejá Vù', 'The Battle Of Thalÿma' - show a
different side of the band, the latter sounding like a sinister
military procession. Overall Playgrounds is a worthwhile addition
to those fans that like other Swedish bands like Galleon or European
80-90s neo-progrock bands."
:: AUDION ::
"This album has a great fluidity and is therefore very pleasant
to listen to, especially as the band brilliantly alternates vocal
tracks and instrumental pieces. Cross have climbed a notch in the
progressive hierarchy, without any doubt reaching the tops in its
genre (neo-progressive symphonic), which we prefer."
:: COSMOS MUSIC ::
"Life as a game and the Earth is our playground". That
is the theme of the new album from Swedish progband Cross. It seems
that working close with the members of Galleon and Grand Stand has
inspired him to reach for new goals. On this album he has also enlisted
all the members from his side project Spektrum Olov Andersson (Grand
Stand) Göran Fors (Galleon) Lizette von Panajott and Göran
Johnsson) plus some new names, Linus Kåse (Brighteye Brison)
on saxophone and Hanna on violin. All in all this makes the new
Cross album a varied and exciting new album from Swedens prog label
Progress Records. Old fans will not be disapointed, and new listeners
will find references to mainly Genesis, Yes and Van Der Graaf Generator."
:: MISSING PIECE::
"Look no further if you're into decent
and solid progressive rock"
:: ROCK REPORT ::
"The music leans on the heavier and
more majestic side of prog, at times hitting the neo style of latter
day IQ and also mid-term Genesis (prior to Hackett's departure),
the latter especially notable by the
keyboards and percussion styles and sounds. As with most review
comparisons with other bands, they are just comparisons and this
should not be taken to mean that Cross is a clone,only that they
pick and alter certain snippets of influential sounds and ideas,
which is almost inevitable given the influence of the prog greats.
Vocals are very good and have that deep rasping element of those
of Mr Gabriel, an analogy I should apologise for given my previous
comment! Like all the Progress Records catalogue we have heard to
date, Playgrounds does not disappoint. Recommended."
:: HAIRLESS HEART HERALD ::
"Cross gives us some long tracks (as
usual), "Mesmerizing Enterprize" for example exceeds
15 minutes, nevertheless good writing and fine arrangements makes
that the time doesn't feel that long. The longer the pieces are,
the more progressive they have become. On "Let The Play
"A new Beginning" (with a superb saxophone-solo), "... and Enter The Game" and "Mesmerizing Enterprize", the chemistry between guitar and keyboards
really works. The same goes for the instrumental "The Battle
Of Thalÿma". The music of Cross is increasingly mature. "Playgrounds" follows the line of its preceding
albums. This album feels like a logical continuation of "Secrets".
Cross is true Swedish prog."
Rating: 8 out of 10
:: ANTITHETIK ::
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THE THRILL OF NOTHINGNESS :.
"It's been five years since 2004's Playgrounds, but Sweden's Cross are back with The Thrill of Nothingness, an album that was intended for release in 2007, but due to band leader (and head of Progress Records) Hansi Cross coming down with a bad case of tinnitus and hyperacusis (sensitivity to sounds), this delayed matters a few years while he recouped enough to finish the CD. Here we are in 2009, and The Thrill of Nothingness is finally complete and available to prog fans throughout the world. Thankfully the rest of the band remained patient while Hansi overcame his illness, as this CD is a fine example of 70's inspired modern progressive work, and features the able talents of Goran Johnsson (keyboards, harmony vocals), Lollo Andersson (bass), and Tomas Hjort (drums) alonside Cross, who handles guitars, vocals, and additional keyboards.
Tunes such as "Universe Inside" and "Animation" simply scratch that itch for mid-late 70's period Genesis (when Phil Collins took over the vocal slot), as well as IQ, complete with soaring vocal harmonies, layers of vintage keyboard sounds, acoustic and electric guitars, tight rhythms, and memorable arrangements. The near 12-minute "Innocence" features some splendid drum work from Hjort, as well as plenty of engaging synth work from Johnsson. Add in the Hackett-esque lead work from Cross, some dreamy vocal sections, and moments of complex interplay and you have what is basically a killer track. Hansi's aggressive guitar lines open up "Hope", a short instrumental on which the guitarist really focuses on some emotional lead work over atmospheric synths from Johnsson. The band mixes some melodic pop melodies with symphonic prog on the lengthy "Chameleons", and delivers a quirky instrumental in the form of "Magnifico Giganticus", complete with wild guitar lines and synth passages. The CDs epic finale, the near 13-minute "Eternity", kicks off with pastoral acoustic guitar & keyboard melodies before Hansi's majestic vocals come into play. From there the song morphs into a symphonic rocker featuring a wide array of keyboard textures and some stunning guitar solos, finally ending with a grand crescendo that quickly drops to a tranquil calm that will leave a big smile on your face.
There's a well trodden saying that goes something like 'this one was worth the long wait', but I think in this case, it's well worth repeating that worn out statement. The Thrill of Nothingness is a welcome return from Cross, and one of 2009's best symphonic progressive rock albums. Lovers of Trick of the Tail & Wind and Wuthering era Genesis will eat this up in a big way."
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
::SEA OF TRANQUILITY::
"Finally, 5 years after ‘Playgrounds’ this new album has found its way from the pressing plant. Even if I don’t have all the predecessors’ fresh in mind, it strikes me that ‘The Thrill of Nothingness’ is their best so far. Above all, the many strong instrumental passages did it to me.
I noticed a couple of nods to heroes like Genesis, ELP or Hackett. I would say he has simular quality as Steve Hackett. Hansi Cross also convinces vocally. I can certainly see no failure. Quite the contrary: ‘The Thrill Of Nothingness’ is one of the really positive surprises this year. Fans of sophisticated, melodic instrumental passages in the style of Hackett and Camel should be heading for the limited double CD version. There are another 7 bonus songs (including the nearly 20-minute 'Rhiannían Daëy'). I give an extra plus for the truly excellent production.
"Five years after their latest album Playgrounds Swedish Cross is now releasing their ninth album in order, The Thrill Of Nothingness. Guitarist / singer / composer Hansi Cross has also founded the record company Progress Records, which has given us some of the most interesting album releases with the best of Scandinavian progressive rock for the last ten years. It’s very nice that the band returns with a well composed and engaging album with enough variation to keep interest up all the way. The songs often lies within comfortable tempos, highlighted by beautiful melodic lines, reflective without excessive muscle exposure. At the same time there are plenty of subtle rhythmic and instrumental figures in characteristic Cross fashion. "Innocence" is my personal favorite, which is mainly driven by a boiling instrumental interplay reminiscent of Genesis Wind & Wuthering to Duke, where Hansi Cross fine guitar playing is also given space."
::RED HOT ROCK MAGAZINE::
"The intro to 'Universe Inside' immediately sets the tone for the album, a rather busy drum pattern on a background of vintage keyboards and soaring guitar parts, sliding over to Hansi’s melancholic voice and a number of continuous switching between a ballad and solid neo-prog. ‘Animation’ leans back in with the pleasant sounding and yet sublime instrumental music of Alan Parsons. ‘Innocence’ is tightly bound to sweep with such a nice combination à la Gentle Giant, excellent drum work from Hjort, beautiful layers of synthesizers and guitar playing walking the thin line between Hackett and Gilmour, one of the highlights on the album. The guitar is somewhat firmer and more aggressive in the instrumental ‘Hope, to some content evoking Satriani or Vai. 'Chameleons' starts out in a rocky fashion, but leads, again, into symphonic prog. The album is more instrumental oriented than the predecessors. ‘Magnifico Gigantus’ is an example that even tend to be towards RIO. The epic on the album, ‘Eternity’, starts out with a nice acoustic intro, then quickly turns into a symphonic rocker with all the pace and mood swings, typical for the genre. Cross remains one of the leading groups in the genre of pure symphonic rock."
"Universe Inside provides a catchy start to the album, with a good melody, some fine singing and the symphonic keyboard textures that start, and later the guitar, are very pleasing. Animation continues in similar vein without perhaps being as strong but Innocence is then another of the album’s highlights: it begins with a long instrumental section of gorgeous keyboards textures before the guitar comes in; then a sonic treat sprinkling of what sounds like vibes; the vocal section in the last sections are good too, rounding off an excellent composition.
Hope is a beautifully melodic guitar-led instrumental before Chameleons and Magnifico Giganticus, another instrumental, continue in a similar vein. Eternity closes what is a fine album, its introduction featuring soft acoustic guitar textures (interestingly, the sleeve notes are careful to point out that this is a nylon stringed guitar, which shows you the attention to detail that this album’s music has had) playing a beautiful melody and it develops nicely with a good beat.
The album’s just short of being worthy of a recommendation-level score: there’s a slight hint of “creative drag” just after Hope and the slow middle section of Eternity fails to live up to the promise of its excellent beginning (and, later, there’s a slight feeling of disappointment at that same middle section because of the returning excellence during the coda).
Despite these slight reservations, The Thrill Of Nothingness remains a very strong album: indeed, as I said before, it’s my favourite out of the three Cross albums that I’ve heard, and I like them all, so if you are a fan of similar soundscapes, then you may well enjoy this too."
"In a typical CROSS manor the album opens with “Universe inside”. Keyboards laying out atmosphere leads the direction of the song while the hard and always dominant bass creates a counter point dynamic to, especially, Hansi Cross’s guitar playing, who I gladly could call “the Swedish Gilmour”. A gem on The Thrill Of Nothingness is the 12-minutes track “Innocence”, an almost instrumental tune with keyboards and guitar alternating between themes and solos. The sound is typical for Cross: the synth solo sounds can also be heard on Secrets and Playgrounds and becomes a trademark for the band. As a keyboard freak I very much like the tone quality. The short and calm, and very atmospheric, instrumental track “Hope” begins with a beautiful guitar solo, whose inspiration lies surely not far from Floyd. One note that there is plenty of working hours put in to the final album. There are small details to discover again and again. The large plus is however Hansi's ability regarding the art of composing. Occasionally it bends towards disharmonic chord sequences like, for instance, in parts of the instrumental song “Magnifico Giganticus”, just to be followed by a highly melodic guitar theme. With the varied epic track “Eternity” ends this 55-minutes journey. The limited edition contains an extra 42 minutes of music, whereby the most mentionable is “Bläckfisken”. The long track “Rhiannan daëy” is worth attention from all guitar fans. Indeed, the majority of the bonus tracks stands for themselves and gives the extra CD good value. The songs are good, but however do not completely live up to the quality of the “main album”. Result: Though The Thrill Of Nothingness probably do not invent the wheel again, it contains strong ideas and melodies. Again, a very convincing neo prog album that takes the lead before most of this years releases in the genre. I rarely rate albums with maximum score; however, with CROSS I happily do, as the music is very convincing. I highly validate Hansi both as person and musician. Shopping frenzy!"
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
"As if about the bodiless antagonist to the Never Ending Story, there are fantastical aspects interlaced into the binding of this music. Notwithstanding conceptual titles that hint to exciting voids in fairytales, the compositions do hearken to Atreyu’s adventurous themes. While all songs are either repetitive or accessible like Pop, it does incorporate some of Spock's Beard's and Pink Floyd's sound styling. Other bands that come to mind include Knight Area and Pendragon. With that said, keyboards are king in this album, whereas bass and guitars are the princes to their universe. The vocals, however, resemble synthesizers in most cases, so they too fall within the Neo-Progressive sphere of influence. Last but not least, the pitter-patter of the drums fruitfully fills remaining empty space. Parenthetically, the easiest peach to pick is also their sweetest. This juicy tutti-frutti is called "Hope”. Though simple in nature, the fact it's so reachable makes it the overall highlight. Regardless of what falls out when you shake Cross' branches, this is a wondrous album that's both engaging and consistent from start to finish, and there isn't a single rotten apple in the bushel. You can listen to it from the opener to "Eternity" without feeling as if your precious time got sucked into a wormhole."
"The Thrill of nothingness gives us traditional progressive rock, with strong keyboards and well thought arrangements. To the four permanent members of Cross add Bruno Edling on vocals, Tomas Bodin (Flower Kings) on mini moog and Kent Kroon on acoustic guitar. By alternating long compositions in the vein of the 70's with 4-5 minutes songs Cross is succeeding in obtaining a certain variety in tempo and arrangements."
"The Thrill of nothingness" actually should have been available at progressive rock shops already in May 2007. But Hansi Cross, main man of the band, suffered from a hearing loss and a terrible tinnitus (all kinds of tinnitus is terrible, but some are worse), which lasted for a long time, made him hypersensitive to all kinds of sounds, and abruptly terminated the work on the CD. Two years later he could begin, in short sequences, to finish the work with the new album.
The ninth album of the band is a completely logical continuation of "Secrets" (2000) and "Playgrounds" (2004). The typical, gentle neoprog sound is stronger and warmer, more like in the 70’s, showing some retro influences, which previously has not been so obvious. CROSS is still a neo prog act, which plays rather gentle, lyrical symphonic songs, which however, like in the 9-minute “Chameleons” mixes Alan Parsons Project style, but far less poppy than what is usual in that category, with long instrumental passages, throwing in disharmonic breaks and rhythmic time signature changes, which is typical for this bands inspired, creative musical language. On the ending song “Eternity” - one of two epic tracks -Tomas Bodin contributes with a mini moog solo, using somewhat Genesis related sounds reminding of “A trick of The Tail" or "Wind & Wuthering" and we get strongly Genesis related vocal parts and long instrumental solo trips. Here and there some Pink Floyd (Wish you were here-period) influences show up. Thomas Hjort’s drumming is excellent and always with substantial complexity. Lollo Andersson’s melodic, powerful bass playing and use of Taurus pedals is perfect and creates an alternative view to the neo prog. Göran Johnsson (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals) and Hansi Cross (guitars, lead vocals, keyboards) deliver their parts in a very dynamically and emotionally deeply balanced manor, and refers in melodies as well as dynamic playing to the classical symphonic era. A greatly composed and beautifully arranged album, and a long desired success on the prog scene."
"Here is one which will charm the fans of traditional progressive rock."
::MUSIC IN BELGIUM::
”The Thrill of nothingness” sounds as early Genesis and Camel and the fantastic opening track ”Universe inside” is beautiful, inventive progressive rock of highest calibre. “Animation” starts out in the best Genesis-vein around “Wind and wuthering” and also some Pink Floyd as well as Camel influences is to be found. One can not really say that Cross clearly has a style of their own, but embraces what once was great and the result is fantastic.
The long “Innocence” is almost fully instrumental, but the 11 minute plus feels shorter. The themes are pretty and melodic, and the musical skills of the four members are high. Also the next track, “Hope”, is an instrumental piece, one that leans more towards an ambient direction where Hansi does some solos over layersd of dreamy synthesizers. “Hope” is one of the albums weaker moments but nevertheless beautiful and relaxing.
“Chameleons” is yet another track which of floats along, coming close to 70’s band Camel with keyboards as the dominating instrument. Upon that follows a peculiar little tune entitled “Magnifico Giganticus”. It’s an instrumental with some odd themes, a bit like things Steve Hackett does when he’s in that kind of mood. The ending track “Eternity” is the albums longest track and on which Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) appears as special guest on mini moog. Kent Kroon, who also helped out with the mixing process, adds some acoustic guitar. “Eternity” is another piece placed in the land of Genesis and it is as beautiful and elegant as most songs on this excellent album.
A welcomed album for many, as it was delayed for so long time. The fans will get their share of 70’s inspired progressive rock and if you haven’t yet discovered Cross then this is a good start."
"This album is distinguished by excellent production, a major accumulation of interesting melodic lines and wonderful instrumentation. Stylistically, "The Thrill of Nothingness" is placed somewhere between the works of Tony Banks (Genesis), and Richard Wright (Pink Floyd). Hansi takes care of the vocals, all guitars and some keyboards together with his permanent colleagues Tomas Hjort (drums) and Lollo Andersson (bass) and Göran Johnson, who enriches the sound with loads of synthesizers, harmony vocals, as well as composing. As invited guest, on the song "Eternity”, there is also a musician known from The Flower Kings, Tomas Bodin.
The album is filled with mature compositions, where the climate is maintained in the spirit of epic prog rock, particularly expressed by lots of keyboards, which play the dominant role of this album. From time to time we get very fine guitar solo parts (such as the Gilmourian solos on "Hope" and "Innocence"), but there are powerful synth sounds throughout the reign of the disc. The result is that the whole album is a monumental overtone and is a great listening pleasure.
Do I have any favourite tracks? It is difficult to clearly identify, as the album "The Thrill Of Nothingness" presents itself as an excellent 55-minute complete body, but my favourites are these three: the opening song "Universe Inside" (though a few bars are stolen from Genesis’ "Watcher of the skies"), the ending epic "Eternity", and placed somewhere in the middle, "Innocence". I recommend it, but not only because of those 3 songs - fans will find mature, melodic and epic sounds, performed with vintage-oriented keyboard instruments that maintain the spirit of the 70s music.
PS. "The Thrill Of Nothingness comes in two versions: the basic single album, with seven, less than an hour ongoing works, as well as a special edition bonus double disc, which includes seven additional tracks with a total time of 42 minutes (including a 20-minute suite "Rhiannian Daëy). And once I add that I am a holder of an expanded version of this album. I know quite well all the previous work of Cross, I must emphatically state that the 2CD edition of "The Thrill Of Nothingness" is by far the most mature and most successful release among their works. Recommended!
"Cross is a Swedish neo-progressive/ neo-symphonic band with excellent English vocals and an accessible style. “The Thrill of Nothingness” (2009) is their latest studio CD. The band feels this is a logic continuation of “Secrets” and “Playgrounds”, with a slightly more 70’s sound. The spectre of late 70’s Genesis is never far away though often the feel is closer to Mike Rutherford’s “A small creeps day” or Tony Banks’ “A curious feeling”. Song tempos stay in the moderate, Pink Floyd range, and there is a Pink Floyd influence in other aspects as well. Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) guests, and while Cross’ style is distinct, most of The Flower Kings fans will enjoy this album too, as well as fans of Galleon, Twin Age and Spektrum."
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