Review Summary: The rest of Creed has moved on – but apparently Stapp hasn’t. His solo debut delivers more of the bland, generic rock that Creed was known for. And without Tremonti on board, there’s barely anything redeeming about it.5 of 6 thought this review was well written
Scott Stapp has got to be one of the most hated frontmen of this decade. Rising to fame as vocalist and lyricist for hard rock band Creed, many soon came to call him things like “the poor man’s Eddie Vedder”. His professed Christian faith, thinly veiled Christian-themed lyrics and the fact that he was raised in a Christian home led people to call him things like “Bible-thumper” - although the band itself was never Christian, despite being labeled so. The way he conducted himself onstage and his constant problems with alcohol certainly don’t help things at all.
Most everybody knows that Creed broke up in June 2004, and shortly thereafter Stapp’s former bandmates formed the band Alter Bridge with vocalist Myles Kennedy. Stapp, meanwhile, started recording a solo album with his backing band coming from members of Goneblind. He contributed the single “Relearn Love” to The Passion of the Christ Soundtrack
that year before the album dropped in 2005. It peaked at #19 on Billboard’s top 200 chart, and the title track became a moderately successful single.
There is nothing inherently terrible
about this album; it’s just that every song is ridiculously forgettable and features nothing redeeming that would separate this from every other mainstream rock release. The first indicator of this is the cover art, which features a portrait of Stapp apparently singing his heart out onstage. It’s quite cliché and has been done before many, many times. You’ll get the exact same impression listening to the music.
Eddie Vedder comparisons aside, Stapp is really a fairly good singer. His low, slightly raspy, Southern-accented voice has no real weak moments. Although one can’t help but think he’d be more at home with a country or grunge band, it really suits what goes on with the music. The main problem is that the man only does two things vocally: he either sings at normal volume or borderlines on shouting in the heavier moments, and this is not much display of talent. Stapp’s lyrics are really weak as well, with the cliché song titles being a good indication of what to expect from the lyrics as a whole.
The guitars really suffer as a whole also since Tremonti is no longer backing the man. Personally, I feel there should be no doubt Mark Tremonti was the best part of Creed’s music. He knew when to play hard, strong riffs; when to play simple chord progressions; and most often you’d hear him plucking the strings well. With no rhythm guitarist, though, his solos only hinted at hidden talent that would be revealed in Alter Bridge.
Sadly, the guitarists Aristides Rincon and John Curry don’t amount to much talent at all. At least if they do, they never show it here. Sure, the heavy riffs and technical leads on Reach Out
and Hard Way
will probably catch your attention, and the solo on the former track is somewhat interesting. They also do some interesting acoustic fast picking on the title track. But in the grand scheme, they’re nothing special. Most of the guitar parts on here are nowhere near noteworthy, consisting of boring progressions and simple riffs you know you’ve heard before.
The drumming is painfully average, with absolutely nothing you haven’t heard on any album picked from any other mainstream rock album in history. And the bass is almost always unheard; though there’s basically nothing a good bassist could do to help the overall impact you get from the album.
There’s one track bordering on decent that I haven’t mentioned yet, and that’s the closing ballad Broken
. Besides the usual drums, and bass, there’s also piano, acoustic guitars, strings and a full choir. The result, however, is just your obligatory ballad, and I can easily see how someone could call it corny or cheesy, especially considering the lyrics:
“Do you know...what it feels like to be broken and used
Scared and confused
Yes I know
There is a question that I want to understand
Why can't everyone tell the truth...and learn to love again
And there you have it. Scott Stapp’s debut is a painfully generic rock album devoid of any originality or strong musical talent. Which is sad, because the guy’s a fairly good singer (in my opinion). If Stapp could just find some really talented musicians, this could be above average and possibly really good. Next year he plans to release a sophomore effort, and hopefully it’s not as forgettable as this one.
The Great Divide