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February 2002 Pick of the Month

Artist: Creed
Label: Wind-Up Records
Length: 11 Tracks/50:11 min

I have to confess that I approached Creed's third album with an incongruous mixture of excitement and trepidation. Creed's last album, Human Clay, was the one of the highlights of 1999, a collage of the best of 1990's heavy rock, underpinned by Scott Stapp's astonishing vocals and truly uplifting lyrics. But consider the multi-million selling, breakthrough rock albums of the last 10 years that have one unfortunate fact in common; their follow-ups were significantly less inspired. Remember Razorblade Suitcase by Bush, Secret Samadhi by Live, Insomniac by Green Day, Ixnay on the Hombre by Offspring and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie by Alanis Morisette?

Whither Creed? Opening song "Bullets" gives us a good pointer to the answer. It builds from an intro of spoken words over a menacing bass-line before unleashing into a blaze of incendiary guitar riffs that the Metallica of old would have been proud of. Yes, this is easily the heaviest song that Creed has ever released and it's wonderfully plain that Messrs Stapp, Tremonti and Phillips have chosen not to go down the road of softening up their music to please the masses.

The quality control is superbly maintained as Creed surges and sometimes strolls through another set of archetypal, well-written songs. Stand-out tracks include the current single "My Sacrifice," which acts as the "Higher" of the album, "Stand Here With Me," which features some sublime guitar tones from Mark Tremonti, and the title track, which boasts a gargantuan, arena-sized chorus.

Fans will also be pleased to hear that there has been no let up in the quality of Scott Stapp's lyrics, as he continues to document his spiritual and emotional fears,

 Somewhere in His grace
  I cried out heaven save me
  But I'm down to one last breath" (One Last Breath),
 The covenant has been broken
  By mankind
  Leaving us with no shoulder
  To rest our head on" (Who's Got My Back?),
and joys,
 Within my heart are memories
  Of perfect love that you gave to me
  I remember" (My Sacrifice).
Creed has accomplished the difficult feat of following up a 10 million selling album with one that can compete for musical excitement, diversity and lyricism. That's one more potential storm that this excellent band has "Weathered."

Vik Bansal 11/30/01

Creed’s new album, Weathered, struggles to stay true to their hard rock roots. It is the most diverse yet sonically coherent of their three discs. So much for the early Pearl Jam comparisons. The beginning of Weathered will remind the listener at times of everything from Alice in Chains to Bon Jovi to Dream Theater, all held together by the core Creed sound. “Bullets” leads off with dark vocal harmonies and drummer Scott Phillips adds a new weapon to Creed’s sonic arsenal by infusing soundscapes into the interlude.

The addition of an eight-minute song, “Who’s Got My Back,” is a pleasant sign that Creed is opting for artistry over radio, but its opening and closing sequences seem forced and really only fit with two lines of the song’s lyrics.

“One Last Breath” will be this album’s “With Arms Wide Open.” It is one of the few pure pop constructions with grinding guitars on this album. The topic, which appears to be turning back from suicide, should also be popular and is adroitly treated. Elsewhere, however, the lyrics are not so deep, leaning more toward “One” than “My Own Prison.” In “Signs,” Scott Stapp sings, “This is not about age… This is not about God… This is not about race… This is not about sex.” Well what is it about? Apparently these signs are pretty important, but Creed doesn’t care to tell us why. Also dominant is an old Creed theme in which they decry deception and the hiding of truth but, instead of returning to truth, naively say everything will be fine if the children of the world join hands and sing.

“Stand Here With Me” is a welcome exception to this theme. “Stand” merits at least a “9” on the spiritual encouragement scale and musically is one of the best hard rock songs of the year. You’ll be pressing the repeat button on this one for days to come. But unless you like a blend of adult contemporary and pop-rock guitars, you might as well program the disc to repeat after the excellent title track and skip nine through eleven. Not bad, but not what I’m after when I pop in Creed.

If you were willing to buy My Own Prison on the strength of the title track, definitely pick this one up for “Stand Here With Me.” If Weathered were an eight song EP, I might give it four tocks. Instead it gets…

Dan Singleton 11/30/01

I really hate writing this. Creed's a great band, but they can really get on your nerves. Take this new album, Weathered, for example. Here's a better name for it: Human Clay in My Own Prison.

Creed seems to have taken the wrong road this time around by fallen into the "predictable" category. Maybe the public at large doesn't see that as of right now (this album has been at the top of the charts since it's been out), but those who like to hear something new every once in a while might want to skip this one. Take "Bullets" for example. While the music sounds a little harder for Creed than usual, the context of the song is way too similar to "What If" from Human Clay. And "Who's Got My Back?" Take the Native American chant out of it and the music sounds very reminiscent to "Faceless Man."

There are a few diamonds in the rough, however. In one word, "One Last Breath" is beautiful. So is "Don't Stop Dancing." Even the highly popular "My Sacrifice" is enjoyable. That is, if you look past the fact that it is really just a glorified "Higher."

Oh well. Here's hoping their fourth album will be a little bit more surprising. Creed remains a good band, but I can't help asking myself, "Haven't I heard this before?" every time I listen to Weathered.

Adam Duckworth 1/5/2002



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