Weathered

Creed

Wind-Up Records, 2001

http://www.creed.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/21/2001

Paging Scott Stapp and the remaining two members of Creed... your fifteen minutes of fame are about to expire.

Harsh words to start the review of what is one of the most anticipated albums of 2001, I know. Now, bear in mind, I happen to like Creed. They've produced some of the most powerful slabs of hard-edged music in the last few years, and having seen them in concert in 2000, I know for fact they put on a killer live show.

But Weathered, the latest release from Creed (and the first since the sacking of bassist Brian Marshall), tries to copy the success that Creed's first two albums captured. If only they had grasped the brass ring a third time around; where the other two discs seemed to create their own magic, this disc feels like it's following in their shadows.

In a sense, it is; like so many other artists who have had to follow up massive successes, Creed is in the unenviable position of being expected to top Human Clay, or to create another song like "Higher" which will infest the pop charts. "My Sacrifice," the first single, is cut from that same block, though it is not as strong as its counterpart, musically or lyrically. From the instrumental opening, "My Sacrifice" has the feel of a blotchy photocopy, and Stapp's lyric is nowhere near as powerful, despite seemingly being another painful personal lesson from his life. (At least that's the vibe I get from reading the lyrics - and I can't help wondering if Stapp is lamenting any loss of friendship between himself and Marshall.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What's sad is not that "My Sacrifice" is not as strong a song as "Higher" or "With Arms Wide Open"; Yahweh Himself would have a difficult time topping those. No, what's sad is that "My Sacrifice" ranks as one of the better songs on Weathered. While Stapp and crew try to take some chances with the songwriting, the bulk of the material starts to sound cookie-cutter very quickly.

Even the experimentation doesn't always work. The Rage-meets-Pearl Jam vibe of "Bullets" is admittedly a different way for Creed to have kicked this album off, but it doesn't quite sound like it's the perfect match to their style of songwriting. (This isn't to say that Creed could never make such a combination work.) And while I do like the Native American touch to "Who's Got My Back?" the song itself just has the air of underdevelopment to it. Granted, had Stapp and guitarist/bassist Mark Tremonti tried to keep the Indian vibe going, they might have failed on a grander level, since this is one of the hardest styles of music for any musician to integrate into their work. (When they succeed, though, it can be absolutely beautiful.)

One experiment which does seem to work is using Stapp's wife Aime as a backup vocalist on "Don't Stop Dancing," quite possibly the best track on Weathered. Like integration of the Native American style, this could have been dangerous, but her vocals are integrated well (and sparingly - they're beautiful, but had they been overused, it could have been tragic).

Sadly, the rest of Weathered often sounds like these tracks were left over from the Human Clay sessions. "Signs" and "One Last Breath" are two tracks which smack of what could have been; by the time "Stand Here With Me" and the title track rolled around, I had personally begun to lose hope with this disc. Even the disc's closer, "Lullaby," tries to feed off the Human Clay juggernaut, acting as a sequel to "With Arms Wide Open" as our hero sings to his daughter. (Yeah, just what I needed - another reminder of how lousy a parent I am.)

It's quite possible that Creed was rushed into putting out an album to ride the wave of success they've been enjoying. It's possible that the band has not recovered from the dismissal of Marshall, and Tremonti is trying to do too much as guitarist and bassist. (Arguably, one of Creed's trademarks at the start was Marshall's bass work.) Maybe Creed - God forbid - just put out a sub-par album.

Of course, with the demand that "My Sacrifice" has been getting, there's no doubt that Weathered will top the charts, and Creed will enjoy a level of success with this disc. But it's a matter of time before people realize that Weathered is hardly the kind of quality album that people should have been expecting. A bad album? No. A disappointment? Yes.

Rating: C-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Wind-Up Records, and is used for informational purposes only.