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Cross - Playgrounds CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.54 | 35 ratings

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4 stars 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.

'Let the play begin' has a certain GENESIS-feeling, especially because of the keyboards, but CROSS tends to give the song a 'heavier' turn, often followed by softer, melodic passages. 'Déjà Vu' is a full instrumental track, where heavy guitar riffs (even a bit progmetal) are alternated with dreamy guitar solos and mellotron. 'A new beginning' could easily have been a new number of SPEKTRUM, with those typical keyboard sounds with an intriguing voice, supported by excellent CAMEL-like guitar parts. A bit surprising is the use of saxophone, which makes the end a bit jazzy. But no mistake, this is truly a symphonic, progressive rock-cd. For instance in the second instrumental 'The battle of Thalyma', CROSS seems to have a patent on those beautiful melody lines. And although Hansi is an excellent musician, he prefers arrangement and compositions above technique, that's why the rhythm section is rather inconspicuous, but solid.

'.and enter the game' has a heavier basis, with at times even some fusion, later on again neo-progressive, but the symphonic nature is always dominating, the addition of some choir samples is helpful in this way. This tracks is full of tempo changes, and listen carefully to the wonderful guitar solo at the end. After a short 'ambient' transition track comes 'Mesmerizing enterprize', a worthy ending introduced by mellotron, with many surprising turns on guitar and keyboards and harmonic vocals. 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. But the beautiful varied guitar solos remain the most striking on this album, the influence of top guitarists of the seventies is obvious.

Some tracks were recorded already in 2001 and 'Playgrounds' should have been released that year, but as Tomas Hjort was living in New York during 911, the whole project was cancelled. In the meantime the successful SPEKTRUM-album was released, this gave the last one of CROSS more time to grow. And the result is probably the best album, that the band has produced so far: a promise for the future.

Clayreon | 4/5 |


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