One-time Cyclops signee Cross now reside on the Progress Records label (is it just me, or is anyone tiring of overuse of the terms progress, progression, progressivity, etc.?). Founder, guitarist-vocalist, part-time synthesist and namesake Hansi Cross is a decent guitarist, but he still sings in that typically contrived style which is the signpost for most neo-prog groups. At least he actually sings on-key. Drummer Tomas Hjort does his Neil Peart thang and contributes half of the songs (he doesn't drum like Peart, though). Bassman Lollo Andersson has his Taurus pedals, and two of Hansi's bandmates from his other project, Spektrum, are in on the fun: vocalist Lizette von Panajott (two tracks only) and keyboardist Olov Andersson—who's credited with Mellotron (it's okay, we can assume it's a real one).
Hans ain't a bad crooner, really, somewhere between gruff (Gabriel) and smooth (Wetton) . The band does enact some time changes in mid-song, and so long as one isn't expecting a towering amount of complexity, this album could be very satisfying. The trio formation with guest keysman conjures no aural imagery of Rush, but "Bleeding In Silence" is heavier than typical Genesissy neo fare. Verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus. Standardized formula. Bigger guitar sound (with the bass often drowning in its wake). "The Core" contains active soloing by Olov, but one spot is pitifully formulaic, the playout of every note of several triads up-octave & inverse, etc., on a very shrill synthbrass patch. The resident instrumental, "Awakening" starts with Tomas' uppity ¾ beat, and the entire tune never lets up, quite a nice cranker, have we. Big symphonic keys, halfway decent shredding, a toe-tapper.
"Changed Reality" begins with the humorous lyric Electric shocking doctors/Are playing with their toys and shows what a solid outfit Cross really are; hand it to them, they've been playing together for quite a while. The lyrics are never thought-provoking but far from the dreck many Euro outfits relish (no done-to-death fantasy elements, at least—let's leave that to Glass Hammer, since they do it so well). "Pall Of Illusion" is a short 3-½ minute song with a catchy chorus and nice soloing courtesy of Andersson. Noteworthy is Hjort's drum sound—very audible. Also of note is the resemblance to Gary Numan's "Cars" that the intro synthbass has (it's very short)! Secrets concludes with a fourteen-minute epic called "Welcome To Utopia," roughly two-thirds of which is substantive—robust soloing (Cross) & drumming, and nice 'Tron & synth bits (Andersson)—the rest is motion-holding elongation. Lizette adds some backup.
Cross are nice enough to dispense a hidden track 180 seconds after "—Utopia," an all-electronic spacey ditty which must be Hansi's handiwork. Secrets has sleeper potential, and Cross are better than [Hansi's other Progress Records band] Spektrum, even if Lizette fronts them.