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ALBUM REVIEW

Martyrdom in metallic rock chords

November 29, 2005|Steve Hochman

Scott Stapp

The Great Divide (Wind-up)

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When someone declares, "I do not have to justify the way I live my life," one thing is certain: That person does feel a need to justify his or her life. There's no other reason for making that statement.

By the time former Creed frontman Stapp sings that chorus of the quasi-anthem "Justify" on his solo debut, he's already floated various vague, defensive justifications and rationalizations in several songs for whatever it is he thinks he needs to justify. Breaking up the band? His Christian faith? Making an album that barely strays from the mega-successful Creed blueprint, other than adding a layer of metallic crunch to the hard alt-rock?

Whatever it is, Stapp revels in his martyrdom. Every growl of his voice, every power chord from his new band seems meant to convey that he's suffered, but survived. He gets off to a fairly good start, singing of new beginnings in the opening "Reach Out" while guitarists Aristides Rincon and John Curry add enticing Middle Eastern tones. But midway through the album, the pace grows ponderous.

And while his Everyman stance ("I'm just a simple man," he sings in "The Hard Way") may resonate with the fans who bought 25 million Creed albums, the self-referentialism may seem self-righteous to anyone else.

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-- Steve Hochman

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