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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

Fervent Creed Melds Riffs With Religion

November 25, 2001|Richard Cromelin

* * * CREED "Weathered" Wind-Up

There's nothing unusual about a hard-rock band venting about alienation, disillusion, confusion and frustration--that's what makes rock 'n' roll so much fun. Creed vents with the best of them, but for frontman Scott Stapp, the villain isn't the traditional, conservative society that bugs most kids. It's the godless society.

Rock and religion make strange bedfellows. The music's classic attributes of hedonism, irreverence and release seem inimical to the values of discipline, denial and submission associated with religious adherence. Bands such as U2 have incorporated a vague Christian spirituality into some of their inspirational songs, but no one has combined hard-core Christianity, crushing hard rock and massive sales like Creed.

Stapp, guitarist-bassist Mark Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips aren't pulpit-pounding evangelists, and they don't take the name of the Lord that often. But a heartland fundamentalism governs their worldview, which in turn colors the music.

Stapp casts himself as a lonely pilgrim in the grip of evil forces, and his struggle to reach the light creates heavy drama that's resoundingly reinforced by Creed's rough-hewn riffage, part grunge and part Metallica. The music expands slightly on the band's third album, with more limber riffing and textural variety, although Stapp's emotional range as a singer remains stuck between grim and dour.

His persecution complex is finely honed on "Weathered," which opens with a song about being hunted down and shot in the head. But it's possible to take in the spirit of his trials without getting baptized--in fact, it's unlikely that all 10 million who bought 1999's "Human Clay" also bought into its theology. On that level, Creed is much like Staind, another band that rocks hard but whose message and artistic strength rest on something vulnerable deep in the din.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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