(All Album Reviews by BrianG)
On their ninth release, Little Tragedies once again shows why they are a favorite band of many fans of heavy progressive rock. This Russian band has been around almost ten years, focusing and honing their skills to a spear point. Then they jab this spear at the listener over and over getting your attention. They use double kick bass drums, organ, bass and wailing guitars all climaxing and fading together but each on its own trajectory. Think of four or five rockets all launched at the same time, weaving in and out of each other's vapor trails, engines blasting out the music and eventually expending themselves in a huge simultaneous explosion in the air, trailing sparks and fumes back down to earth. This technique is used in almost every song, so if it works for you, this will be a superb album. For me it became overused after the fourth track.
Little Tragedies is Gennady Ilyin as the composer and on keyboards and vocals. Yuri Skripkin on a huge drumset, Alexander Malakhovsky on guitar, Oleg Babynin on bass guitar, vocals and occasionally Aleksey Bildin on saxophone. Like Dream Theatre, who I think they are trying to emulate, each is a virtuoso on their instrument and each intends to make a mark on the album. But far from just being a showcase of individuals, they meld and blend most of the time, creating a heavy, loud at time bone crushing sound.
Most instrumental passages are very lyrical and melodic, and can hold your interest until the next passionate phrase. This brings us to a downfall of the album - the limited vocals. Although Gennady Ilyin seems to have written most of the album, and although I do not understand the Russian language, I can tell that his garage band vocal deliveries keep the songs from being a great listening experience. Guest vocalists would have been a great help, especially an operatic feminine touch to soften some of the constant harsh delivery and to match the grandeur and passion of the music.
I can compare Cross as an equal to the band's 2006 release New Faust, but New Faust's opening orchestral symphonic passage and variety in its instrumentation make it more interesting to me.