Sound — 9
It's no doubt that Creed has been on the love or hate train for almost as long as they've been around. Most people on the harder side of music often enjoy sharing their despise for Creed with others, but for me it's something completely different. I grew up with the "nu-metal/alt-rock" revolution in the 90's and the new millennia and even though acts like Korn and Static-X never jived with me too well, I couldn't get enough of bands like Nickelback and Creed. In fact, the riffs of Mark Tremonti and Chad Kroeger were really the reason I picked up a guitar and started my musical journey in the first place. I've grown a lot now and even though I'm a metal head now, Creed has always held a special place in my musical roots. Back in 2002 when Creed shocked the world with their break up, it stunned me as well. It seemed the band was at their musical peak and to disband at that point seemed unfathomable! Nevertheless Scott Stapp and Mark Tremonti headed their own separate ways with Scott's solo career and Mark's Alter Bridge project reaching their own humble successes but never really reclaiming their musical heights that together, as Creed, had easily achieved. When all hope of a reunion had thought to have been lost, Creed shocked us all again with the announcement of a reunion tour followed shortly by an accompanying new album! Critics immediately started to rise up saying that the band could never reclaim the fire they once had with threads immediately popping all over the net. Despite what people originally predicted, the first few shows were a huge success with fans and critics alike which made the new upcoming album all that much more promising. Which now brings us all here with Creed's 4th attempt hitting music stores all over the world for critics and fans to judge for themselves what the seven years apart has done to the band. Has Creed really redeemed themselves with something new and worth listening to? Without a doubt! 01. Overcome: the first single off the album with good reason. This song does a great job of showing the world the band's heavier and faster style. Mark's harmonics and heavy playing are clearly evident here with Stapp's aggressive vocals turning a new leaf for the band. Amazing solo on this one as well showing off Tremonti's guitar prowess like never heard before on a Creed record. A great song with a complex structure of fast and strong styles interwoven very nicely! One of my favorites on the record for sure. 02. Bread Of Shame: the down tuned heavily distorted opening riff just about hit me like a ton of bricks and left me dumbfounded when I first heard it. Mark's playing almost sounds like something off a Slipknot record (I dare say) and an unusual choice for the later Creed for sure! Nevertheless, Tremonti pulls this one off perfectly! Stapp also does a nice job of getting into the harder act with more intense vocals but doesn't quite nail it as well as I'd like but still a having a nice rawness however. Definitely one of the heaviest ones! 03. A Thousand Faces: I loved the acoustic guitar intro in this one. A very modern Creed-esque song. The lyrics are delivered quite well by Stapp which makes for a great recording. Still showing a slightly darker side, Tremonti's riffs are nice accompaniment with a great heart felt solo to boot. I can really relate to this song in a lot of ways so it's up there in my opinion. 04. Suddenly: still keeping with the heavy style here, I really can't say I love this one all that much. It's a complex song for sure but I just think it could have been better with more simple pattern and vocal style. I don't know, maybe you some people will disagree with me but I couldn't really "get into" this one as well as some of the others. 05. Rain: the second single of the album and definitely one of my favorite tracks, Rain is a refreshing lighter song that brings me back to some of the more stronger inspirational Creed stuff that I've come to love over the years. In a world of heavy music and down trotted lyrics, you need a little feel good tune here or there without sounding sappy or polished. Tremonti's riffs are once again a great accompaniment to the song and like I said, it's one of my favorites. 06. Away In Silence: lighter again, Away in Silence is one of those songs that can speak to a lot of us with the issue of turning yourself around and trying to keep your beloved with you after all the things the two of you have been through. Trying to rebuild the relationship seems to be the theme here and Stapp's lyrics and execution bring out this motif well. Another great song. 07. Fear: this song has a nice hook with Tremonti's riffs and Stapp's vocals working hand in hand to achieve this. Great drums here as well. All in all, a great song with a little bit of a darker edge hidden away as well. 08. On My Sleeve: a nice shimmering acoustic intro here as well, On My sleeve once again shows a familiar Creed face with it's strong vocals and power chords. However, it does show their new modern style of theirs that works well with Tremonti's more complex style. 09. Full Circle: another acoustic intro but with a very different picking pattern that has never been apparent in other Creed recordings. Stapp's vocal style takes a more southern edge here with an accompanying rhythm style. The second half of the song takes a heavier style however with a nice complex structure and an aggressive solo added in for flavor. A great song here as well. 10. Time: yet another nicely done acoustic intro, this song takes a lighter tone with a more complex vocal style that works very well with a nice choice of lyrics and theme. I love the harmonic work laid down by Mark on this one blending into the mood of the song perfectly. Overall a great song! 11. Good Fight: another familiar Creed feel with a bit of their new modern twist added in the first half. The second half takes a heavier turn with a face melting solo to mix it up even more. I like the lyrical intent but I don't think Stapp pulls this one off quite as well like the others. Still a good song though, just not one of my favorites on here. 12. The Song You Sing: keeping with the lighter ending theme found on other Creed records, The Song You Sing does an excellent job of wrapping up this great record. Stapp lets a little of his inspirational side show that can be found on his solo album in spades but with good taste here. Tremonti again backs him up with a nice rhythm section that blends in with the overall mood and theme very well. I love the solo on this one too! A great song which happens to be a fitting ending to a great album. The recording quality here is excellent with a nice high output that doesn't crack, clip, or break up while retaining the dynamics needed. All the recordings seem to be very well mixed with a nice balance of warmth and clarity. Never once did any recordings sound harsh or too compressed. Scott Stapp's vocals were nicely refined and in front where they should be. Mark Tremonti's tone was thick and punchy with all of it extremely articulate and dialed in very well. Brian Marshall's bass line (who came back after disbanding from Creed early on) was very clear and defined with a nice separation from the overall mix. Scott Phillips had a great vibe and feel from his drum lines. From snare, toms, and cymbals a very nice blend of rhythmic goodness indeed!
Lyrics — 8
While the lyrics do show aspects of the more grandiose inspirational sort that Creed is known for, Stapp does bring a rawer and passionate side not heard since My Own Prison. I especially liked the anger and aggressive feel he brought to the recordings to accompany Tremonti's more heavier playing style. I love what Stapp delivers on songs like Overcome, Rain, and Time but didn't like the almost forced vocal styles of Bread of Shame or Good Fight. While I did still like Bread of Shame, Good Fight was in fact badly affected by this. Overall a great vocal effort that Stapp brings to the show time and time again. I did also hear Scott Stapp lose some of his original growl that was present on earlier recordings, but despite this, it still made for a an exceptional vocal effort.
Overall Impression — 9
Full Circle is a very different sounding album compared to the rest of Creed's catalog. While multiplatinum acts like Nickelback and U2 have embraced their seemingly more "attractive" Pop aspects, Creed has instead gone the more daring harder direction. It's plainly evident in their new recordings that the band has indeed evolved a lot since they were last in the studio together. You can hear Mark Tremonti's heavier side, which he showed us while with Alter Bridge, come out and shine in these new songs as he brings the raw riffage and strength that Creed's later days in 2002 were lacking. Scott's Stapp felt it best to leave much of his preachy lighter side on his solo album while bringing us a new flavor to the band that blends in nicely. Instead of the grand vocals that were present in Human Clay and Weathered, Stapp has now chosen a more My Own Prison approach to accompany Tremonti's heavy riffing. The accompanying bass lines are great with bassist Brian Marshall having a nice thump and thickness in the songs while drummer Scott Phillips has an amazing beat and hit your chest kind of drum line that you can expect with their new style. Keep in mind that this album was created from start to finish and put together in only a mere two months! An amazing feat in itself, but to make an album of this quality under those time constraints is unbelievable. While a lot of people will undoubtedly tear this new work from Creed a new one purely based on the artist alone, I think it's overall a great effort and one that I'll be listening to for a long time! While I think it could have been refined a little bit better in some areas, the release as a whole was done quite well and deserves a good listen or two. While I don't think it's Creed's BEST work to date, it still holds it's own well with the rest of them. I did however miss the pure strength and greatness that Creed was known for back in their later days as well as the growl that Stapp used to have but overall a great effort by a great band to say the least!