"Opening 8-minute epic Human Resolution sets a spectacular roller-coaster ride featuring some dramatic guitar work, punchy and mellowing keyboards, and Hansi Cross, the man behind the band and the boss man behind the independent label, Progress Records, comes into full swing. At times it sounds like a Video Game score for the Nintendo classic, The Legend of Zelda, but it really makes you aware that this band knows what they are bringing into the table with some ingredients to come up with a fabulous potion to make some excellent music.
As the homage to Steve Hackett’s classical guitar playing on the short intermezzoRemembrance, it segues into the thrilling 11-minute piece, Falling Beyond that features swooshing moog synthesizers, strings, bass, drums, and guitar work that shows the band falling under the spell of the ‘70s Prog sounds of not just Genesis, but a combination between a symphonic version of King Crimson meeting a darker version of Premiata Forneria Marconi, and of course I’ve mentioned before, the mid ‘80s keyboard-era of Rush during the Grace Under Pressure-era.
Racing Spirits sees the band go into a militant introduction before Hansi lays some virtuoso guitar playing as Tomas Hjort does some excellent drumming improvisation in the styles of Neil Peart and some more of the keyboard work that has some of the spooky passages as bassist Lollo Andersson creates some thunderous bass lines that reminded me of Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, and Stanley Clarke that is beyond the fusion thunder dome.
Meanwhile, the 17-minute epic, Waking Up, sees Cross going into more of an atmospheric keyboard layered sound before going into some adventuring and exciting uncharted territories of an evil fanfare before kicking off into full gear. Notice that the guitar solo sets the mood of life-form creatures coming into our world to start a new life and a new beginning and what will hold for the future for them while it goes into a militant sound again as Hansi’s voice and the violin solo that Hannah Sundkvist does is moving and make it very exciting and in your face.
The last track, which is a bonus track, another epic, Now, which was originally going to be sung back in the early 2000s, but when the terrorist attack that occurred on 9/11, everything changed, and canceled the piece and gave it to another of Hansi’s projects called, Spektrum. Cross has recorded it and it is very touching and yet orchestral to give it that tight adventurous ride back home to Earth. And it’s a glorious, yet spiritual journey on staying alive and finding out who the real you is.
Wake Up Call is an excellent symphonic prog-ride into the outer limits that shows that Cross can really be something quite extraordinary and one of the finest albums to come out of from the Neo-Prog band and it really has something to give a special treat to all."
MUSIC FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM
"Cross are one of the most spectacular, and, at the same time, seemingly one of the most underrapreciated bands on the modern progressive rock scene. The Swedes have been around now for quite some time, delivering one solid album after another, and this latest release Wake Up Call Is certainly no exception. Band leader, and Progress Records boss Hansi Cross once again handles the guitars, vocals, and bulk of the keyboards, along with drummer Tomas Hjort, bassist Lolio Andersson, and a few guest musicians who flesh out the songs with additional keyboards, vocals, and violin.
The somewhat heavier approach of the last few releases is again evident here, mixing quite well with their symphonic prog sound. Opener "Human Resolution" is a gorgeous song, kicking off with thunderous guitar riffs that wouldn't sound out of place on a Dream Theater album, before the sumptuous keyboards and catchy vocal harmonies settle in, as the band show their vintage Genesis and Marillion influences. After the short instrumental interlude "Remembrance" (again, reminded of classic Genesis here), the band offer up the upbeat and quite symphonic "Falling Beyind", an 11-minute track littered with tasty keyboards, lyrical guitar solos, and lush, understated vocals. On "Racing Spirits", the band again pile up the crunchy guitar riffs alongside some splendid keyboard passages, while the haunting 17-minute epic "Waking Up" is a must hear for lovers of atmospheric, adventurous prog rock. The lovely violin lines work quite well next to the soothing keyboards and tasty guitar solos, and the vocals are simply intoxicating. The CD also includes a bonus track, the song "Now", which originally was supposed to be a Cross song back in 2001, but the events of 9/11 led the band to cancel the recording of their album and instead the song was donated to the band Spektrum to use. Hansi and the band now have recorded it themselves, and it's a good symphonic rocker. For those who know the Spektrum version now can compare the two versions and see which was one more successful.
Wake Up Call comes in a nice digipack with glorious green tinted artwork, though the lyrics in the booklet are extremely hard to read. Overall this is a lovely work from a band that never fails to deliver melodic, adventurous, and symphonic progressive rock of the highest quality."
Rating: 4,5 out of 5
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
"I highly recommend this album, to any progfan, any music lover"
Rating: 4 out of 5
"The band described their latest effort as their most symphonic sounding work to date and I fully agree!
I welcomed this album enthusiastically, because the musical content has just been created the way I like my daily prog shot. Majestic layers of keyboards and marvellous solos on the guitars and the synthesizers; Wake Up Call has it all. These layers of keyboards predominantly deliver this album an orchestral sound that suits Cross very well. On the band's previous records the guitar was mostly leading and sometimes a bit too much according to my taste. That doesn't mean that I didn't liked them; each album of Cross is just a delight to listen to. In combination with the additional violins this orchestral style works perfectly, especially on the two epic pieces Falling Beyond (11:08) and Waking Up (17:28). The musical style of bands as Genesis and Yes is never far away on these tracks. The regular outstanding guitar and synthesizer solos − all performed very melodically and emotionally − make sure there's a lot to enjoy.
Mentioning these epic pieces doesn't mean that the other tracks are less worth listening to. This is certainly not the case since the high level of musicianship is present on all tracks. Take for instance the shortest track, the one-minute instrumental Remembrance that takes you back to the days when Genesis performed beautiful music on the acoustic guitars. This short piece could have been taken from Trespass or Nursery Cryme. This mellow song just fits perfectly in between the more up-tempo pieces. It slows down the pace and provides for variety.
When you think you've heard the entire album, the very nice bonus track Now comes out of your speakers. People who are familiar with the eponymous album that Hansi Cross made with Spektrum, will recognize it. Now was originally meant to be a song for Cross back in 2001. Because of Tomas Hjort living in America and due to the events of 9/11, the band had to cancel the recordings of their next Cross-album and the song was instead donated to Spektrum."
"Every composition lives its own life, and discovers its secrets with each approach. After the first listen I was slightly disappointed, now I know that this album is a masterpiece but not to go down in rock history, is a strong opening this year's Progress Records. Cross recorded a solid and interesting album with a multitude of ideas and arrangements firmly rooted in sound and style of progressive rock's golden age, the 70's."
Rating: 8 out of 10
"Wake Up Call" is their tenth album and it seems that the band has awakened. Nothing against the earlier work, but this album is absolutely top performers Cross up a division. I may have or ever have a band, anyone familiar with Cross will see the company as the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Hansi Cross namesake, guitarist, keyboardist, singer and composer of the whole. Also having impact impact on the music is bassist Lollo Andersson and U.S. resident drummer Thomas Hjort. Both played for more than ten years in Cross and it shows. Their play is smooth, confident, dynamic and in the case of bassist Andersson again quite virtuoso.
Very strong are the Rush-like riffs in the opening track Human Resolution. Such runs to get the album regularly and they are all very good. Most songs are built with lots of tempo and mood changes. You would sometimes accuse the band of being somewhat almost avantgarde, if it was not for the appearance of strong melodies and catchy themes that gathers all smoothely together. Go for that matter not ignore the epic Falling Beyond or the instrumental Racing Spirits.
It is a succession of attractive moments, we thankfully get some well-placed guest appearances. Not only do these bring colour to the overall picture, some are also needed. This tells Cross that a flashy keyboard solo there when Hansi (who mainly is a guitaris) find himself not enough skilled on doing all the keyboard work. For years, there has been many keyboardists guesting as for instance Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) and Olov Andersson (Grand Stand).
This time Mats Bender of Introitus the band is brought in. Here and there on the album he asserts itself with a peak for the somewhat spacey solo in the aforementioned Falling Beyond. Vocalist Jock Milgardh, the man who called Tai in the 90s Cross also guests the album. His voice is in line with those of Hansi Cross. He sounds a little less high and reminds me of Neal Morse.
The regular album closes with the seventeen-minute Waking Up. It is a fascinating song with orchestral sounds, beautiful violin solo, additional violin, acoustic guitar figures, razor-sharp point on the electric guitar and a strong theme that flows into a beautiful finale."
"There is no doubt that Hansi Cross can write catchy tunes, take the opening track "Human Resolution" and track three "Falling Beyond" on this CD, both tracks are over nine minutes in length but both possess choruses that are memorable and appealing which are enhanced by Hansi's fine vocals, which is a great rock voice with no accent These two tracks are divided by the short and pleasant instrumental "Remembrance" which features initial acoustic guitar and then quiet keyboards. The fourth track "Racing Spirits" is also an instrumental which sounds mysterious and sinister in parts. This leads into the longest track on the album, the 18 minute piece "Waking Up" which is a mixture of all things that is good about prog music, there are quiet sections dominated by acoustic guitar which give way to excellent keyboard and guitar solos, there is also some nice violin thrown in for good measure before a long run off leads into the bonus track "Now". I understand this track dates from 2001 and was written by Hansi Cross for the Swedish band Spektrum and now appears as a bonus on this album. Guests on the album are Jock Millgardh (lead and harmony vocals), Mats Bender from Introitus (keyboards), Lizette Von Panajott formerly lead singer with Spektrum (voices), Stefan Damicolas from Brother Ape (harmony vocals) and Hannah Sundkvist and Sabina Cross on violins. The album is symphonic in parts but has its rockier moments and is certainly more raucous than "The Thrill Of Nothingness", no doubt a fine album worth a solid four stars."
Rating: 4 out of 5
"Cross is one of the most amazing bands on the progressive rock scene classic and modern at the same time, and also one of the most underrated.
The opening track "Human Resolution" is a superb piece that begins with high-sounding guitar riffs, lavish keyboards and vocal harmonies set correctly. Here one can not deny the influences of Genesis and Marillion.
After the short instrumental interlude "Remembrance", the band offers the very optimistic symphonic "Falling betond", an eleven-minute track with tasty keyboards, guitar solos and lush lyrical vocals. On "Racing Spirits", the group multiplies the catchy guitar riffs alongside passages of beautiful moments of keyboards. The spellbinding epic "Waking Up" is a treat for fans of progressive rock and atmospheric adventure. The passages of violin that blends very well alongside the keyboards and guitar is very tasty moments. The album also features a bonus track, the song "Now" which was composed in 2001 and was to be originally on an album of CROSS. However, the events of 11 September 2001 led the group to cancel recording of the album. Rather than let rest of the song, they gave it to Spektrum who recorded it. "Now" good influences floydian symphonic rock that fits nicely with the rest of the album. And for those who know the interpretation of Spektrum, they can now compare the two versions and see that this is the best.
The album "Wake Up Call" comes in a beautiful digipack with beautiful illustrations, tinged with green. The only handicap is that the words of the book are extremely difficult to read due to lack of contrast.
CROSS provides us with this new album of beautiful melodies, effective instrumentatal work, especially guitar and keyboards. And vocals that, despite what was said in the past, is very well performed. Don't miss this album."
"The music is great example of contemporary Symphonic Prog, which amalgamates the legacy of the classic period of the genre with modern sound. Well defined melodic themes, expanded instrumental passages, tempo changes and multilayered soundscapes are all utilized here, with a surprisingly fresh effect, way superior to most contemporary neo-prog efforts.
The level of musicianship and professionalism involved with recording this album is quite remarkable. The sound is perfect for this kind of music, avoiding the shrillness of Prog Metal, which seems to dominate most contemporary releases. The mix enables all instruments to be perfectly audible and the vocal parts are kept on the same level as the instruments, which allow them to merge perfectly into a coherent and pleasurable whole. The melodic and harmonic content, although typical of the genre, is interesting enough to keep the listener alert, even on the tracks with epic length (over ten minutes), which again is quite rare nowadays.
It is becoming more and more difficult to create any truly worthwhile Prog music, as the genre ages, stubbornly resisting change and absurdly progress itself, more than any other musical genre. Therefore staying within the somewhat outdated boundaries of the genre and still being able to create challenging, intelligent and uplifting music is quite remarkable. Hansi and his cohorts deserve kudos for a job well done indeed. Wholeheartedly recommended!"
THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE