Charing Cross - 'Pain & Gain'

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Charing Cross - 'Pain & Gain'

An interesting release and one that augurs well for their future.

This is the third album from this Swiss five-piece that started in the late eighties. The most longstanding current member, guitarist Pascal Zwyssig, joined in 1993 and the rest of the present line-up – Peter Hochuli (vocals), Andy Dormann (guitar), Markus Flury (bass) and Riodi Halter (drums) – got together in 2009. It's obvious from this release that the band have been hardworking; applying themselves, gigging and developing musicianship and song-writing skills as this is a solid Metal/Hard Rock album. It's melodic, but they have obviously been receptive to more recent heavier influences happening in Modern Metal.

The opener, 'Wake Up', starts with blistering guitar before the rallying call, "come on, come on". Full-on from the first as if it were a high energy gig, it's a solid track, although perhaps the chorus could have been more melodic, but the Schenker-esque guitars carry the day and keep things interesting enough for further exploration. The follow-up, 'No Pain, No Gain', has a Beastie Boys style chorus and a bass line at the heavier end of the spectrum. 'Let It Rock' is lighter in feel, the vocals are still heavy, but they are more melodic and have more of a classic feel with a pleasing butterfly-like guitar solo. The softer, but excellent 'Queen Of The Night' is at the band's tuneful end of the spectrum. It could easily be something from the Scorpions in the eighties.

'White Line Fever' returns to the heavier side of things and is, perhaps, less remarkable for it but 'Welcome To The Show' is better; a catchy chorus while still being heavy... it should come over great live. 'Fucked Up Again' has an excellent, memorable chorus, great guitar and is a clear crowd pleaser whilst 'Still Alive' has classic guitar, a Rock anthem chorus and an accomplished solo; the band's better songs seem to be at the lighter/middle end of their repertoire. 'Hell's Breaking Loose' has a bit of a Dio feel and is followed by the final track 'Cross Roads' which is a better mid-tempo offering and a solid finish.

There are some really great songs on this album, however the band seems to have a slight identity crisis about what they are aiming for genre-wise. It is perhaps fitting that the lyrics of their final song are "here I am standing at the cross roads". Certainly it seems the band could go either way, Classic or heavier. Charing Cross seem to be able to distinguish themselves from the competition with better Classic Rock songs more towards a Scorpions sound than the material with its roots in a heavier bass line. However, it's an interesting release and one that augurs well for their future.

Dawn Osborne

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