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Weathered - Creed
Member Name: Sally3
Weathered - Creed
Date: 28/03/04, updated on 28/03/04 (351 review reads)
Advantages: The best Creed album so far., Lyrically strong., Fabulous inlay artwork.
Disadvantages: Musically not very inventive., A couple of weak tracks.
The aptly named album, Weathered, as in a “survived and withstood the storm” sense, is the third and still the most recent offering from Florida-based band, Creed. Released in 2001, it came out on the back of a slating by the critics of their first two albums, and of the band in general.
However, along with millions of (predominantly American) Creed fans, I ignored the critics and having enjoyed their second album Human Clay, happily forked out a tenner and added Weathered to my collection. I’ve now listened to it consistently for a couple of years, and it was definitely a tenner well-spent. It’s not the most original rock album I possess, but for the most part it’s a solid, tight sound that makes me feel good, and the production translates superbly onto my bass-heavy hi-fi settings.
Creed’s music is not easy to pigeonhole. Vocalist and lyricist Scott Stapp includes Zeppelin, Skynard and U2 amongst his influences, and there’s certainly a couple of tracks on this album that have a hint of Zeppelin about them. But if you imagine Metallica with a melody, you’ll be on the right track. Stapp is constantly compared with Eddie Vedder (vocalist with Pearl Jam), and it’s true, he does sound a lot like him. Stapp hasn’t got the power and gravel of Vedder but he does hold a tune rather well. If you like Pearl Jam, you’ll probably find Creed acceptable but don’t expect the same musical inventiveness.
Ironically, Vedder was the unwitting catalyst for the sacking of Creed bass player Brian Marshall prior to the making of Weathered. Derogatory remarks were made by Marshall and out the door he went. Band guitarist Mark Tremonti took over bass playing duties, which are performed adequately enough o
n this album, but for me, there’s an originality missing that was there on Human Clay, and on their first album, My Own Prison. After co-writing all the tracks with Stapp and contributing all the guitar work, maybe Tremonti ran out of creative juice on the bass lines. The drummer and keyboard player, Scott Phillips continues to provide a solid, though pretty basic support.
Having said that, I do think that Weathered is the best album Creed has released. There’s a feeling of completeness about it, and by the end, the lyrics have moved from anger and frustration to an acceptance of “how life is” for the band. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it’s interesting to note that there are no further Creed albums or tours in the pipeline. They’ve denied a permanent split, but both Stapp and Tremonti have solo projects due for release soon.
The album opens with Bullets, which hits you like an unexpected alarm clock first thing in the morning. It’s by far the heaviest track I’ve heard from Creed, and almost borders on thrash metal. Lyrically, it’s abrasive and full of anger at the constant sniping from critics but Stapp’s voice doesn’t really have the guttural power to carry it off. I much prefer the title track, which comes towards the end of the album and deals with similar issues. Musically it’s far superior. There is the usual driving guitar work, but it’s interspersed with an almost country feel, and has a crescendo at the end which I can imagine going down particularly well live. It acknowledges the hurt that Stapp obviously feels:
“Me - I’m rusted and weathered
Barely holding together…”
But his reaction is to decide to get on with life, as it’s just too shor
“Take all this pride
And leave it behind
Because one day it ends
One day we die”
Lyrically, I relate to this song more than any other.
In true rock star fashion, Stapp refuses to be drawn on the meaning of and inspiration for his songs, saying that they can mean whatever the listener wants them to. Although there’s plenty of angst-ridden introspection, it’s balanced by optimism for the future. I particularly like the way he completely avoids bad language, which is almost unheard of in this genre of music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against an expletive or two when it’s expressing intense emotion, but generally I think it’s just lazy writing. I can quite happily have this album on though, with my youngest son around.
The middle few tracks on Weathered are the strongest. I often get the impression that Tremonti’s guitar abilities are fairly limited, but on tracks such as One Last Breath and Stand With Me, he displays a little more agility with his instrument and allows it to soar – more in the style of Aerosmith and Guns n’ Roses.
On these tracks, Stapp is vocally more comfortable and sounds like he’s singing within his natural range. Although his voice is pretty good, I am disappointed by the lack of vocal inventiveness on the album. Stand With Me and Don’t Stop Dancing are the only tracks with harmonies. The latter uses a boy’s choir from Creed’s hometown Tallahassee, but it’s too faint to make much of an impact. Much better, is the addition of Stapp’s sister, Aimee, at the end of the same track. Her voice, though capable, is light and feminine and provides a gorgeous contrast.
Phillips provides additional varie
ty by emulating a string section on the keyboards for Who's Got My Back? and One Last Breath. I think genuine session string players would have sounded far better though.
Many will already have heard My Sacrifice, the successful single from Weathered. It translated well to radio play with a mix of familiar rock-type riffs and gentler acoustic sounding bookends to the song. Stapp’s vocals are near perfect on this and I can never resist belting it out with him. It’s hard to pass this song by without mentioning the often-discussed Christian background of the band. Again, Stapp won’t be drawn on simple answers to questions about his faith, but this track could certainly be taken as an expression of his feelings of release as he communicates with God after some time away:
“When you are with me
I’m free, I’m careless, I believe….
Then again, it could be a song for his wife – we’re back to the ambiguity again!
As well as Bullets, there are a couple of other weaker tracks on Weathered. Who’s Got My Back? is the most Zeppelin-like offering and an epic at over 8 minutes, but the inclusion of Cherokee Indian prayer chanting sounds misplaced, and frankly, a bit pretentious. I believe Stapp has Cherokee ancestry though, so maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh. Freedom Fighter is particularly weak and one for the “skip” button – it’s repetitive, shapeless and boring.
You remember I said the first song Bullets was like an alarm clock? Well the last track is like a bedtime drink – milky and puts you to sleep. Appropriately named Lullaby, it’s a couple of minutes of acoustic guitar and soft vocals, and the fina
l line of the album is well-meant but far too syrupy:
“Let’s give love to all”
One other thing I’d like to mention is the artwork on the album inlay. It’s simply awesome and I would love to have some of it blown up and framed. Mark Tremonti’s brother, Daniel is responsible for the design, which is a breathtaking interpretation of the album title and its sentiments.
In a nutshell then, Weathered will probably end up being Creed’s final release, and I’m pleased it’s a strong end to their trilogy. Stapp’s lyrics are amongst the best you’ll hear. The music is fairly predictable but competently played and the stuff that life has thrown at the band has given them an edge to their music which somehow gets to me.
2. Freedom Fighter
3. Who's Got My Back?
5. One Last Breath
6. My Sacrifice
7. Stand Here With Me
10. Don't Stop Dancing
Released on the Wind-up label, Weathered is available for £10.99 on Amazon and for a similar price at the usual outlets.
(Copyright: Sally Rose 2004)