Creed – [Album]

Saturday, 21 November 2009

In spite of the fact that the very appearance of a new Creed album now – five years after the band's original dissolution and following the abysmal receptions of both Scott Stapp as a solo artist and Alter Bridge as an autonomous, creative entity – fairly smacks of an earnest attempt at career salvaging at best and bank account padding at worst, at least the band has the common decency to not coast or revisit “old glories” on Full Circle. In spite of the titles implication, Creed resists the temptation to rehash the same tepid and melodramatic soul baring they turned into platinum-selling success during their first run and is actually re-presented on Full Circle as a more metallic, working class and secular outfit. Presumably, they recognized that only coming halfway back after such an pitiful result apart would be tantamount to flushing any possible chance they might have down the drain so, here, they actually play like their careers depend on it – which is probably the case.

Now, it should be said that Full Circle is not actually a complete about-face for Creed. The notions of religious hope and the imagery of it are still present in this album's dozen songs, and the band's basic tenets of dark acoustic and arena-sized songwriting are still key to the material here, but there's also more to it than that; in each case, the music is harder and the basics are emphasized almost to the point of over-exaggeration. In songs like “Overcome,” “Bread Of Shame” and “Fear,” guitarist Mark Tremonti dominates the proceedings with ease as he rips into some surprising shred riffs and tactics, but still leaves enough room for Stapp to bust a pose. In each of those cases, the tandem attack of Stapp and Tremonti will singe the ears of listeners expecting another My Own Prison and, if that isn't enough to blow listeners over, the rhythm section manned by Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums)will take anyone left out at the knees; right from the outset, Full Circle is earnest, it's rough and it's anthemic – it's exactly what Creed needs to even have a hope in hell of making a comeback.

That's not all Full Circle is though. Of course, there are a few acoustic numbers in the forms of “Rain,” “Away In Silence” and the wildly over-orchestrated “On My Sleeve” that hearken back to “My Own Prison,” but none of them are as uniformly dour as the band's previous work in the same vein. None are quite so introspective; they're lighter than one might expect in any form from Creed and, most surprisingly, a lot of that comparative levity has to do with Scott Stapp. Not that the singer ever cracks a joke on Full Circle but, while the singer previously wrestled with choices and mistakes he'd made over the years in order to convey his (very over-wrought) regrets and torments, he's obviously come to grips with or resigned himself to some of them. In “Fear” and the title track, for example, Stapp sings a very different tune (“Change is permanent” plays like a mantra through “Fear,” while “Took for granted what you should have preserved” is how Stapp scolds himself in “Full Circle”) and it re-invigorates him. While self-abuse has always been at Stapp's core as well as a key ingredient to his lyrical matter, this time around – because it functions more as a series of apologies for mistakes audiences are familiar with firsthand, it seems more cathartic; on Full Circle, Stapp seems big enough to not only apologize, but get over himself too which will be very endearing to fans that had a poor taste left in their mouths by Creed's first hiatus.

The obvious question is whether such apologies are all an act or not and only time will tell on that front. Creed abused its audience pretty violently the first time around and the verdict remains out on how many fans will return to the fold for Full Circle. Those that do won't be disappointed though; Full Circle is characterized by lessons learned and that will be heartening for fans.



Full Circle
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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