Creed
My Own Prison


4.0
excellent

Review

by Cain USER (26 Reviews)
May 20th, 2006 | 96 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist


Creed are one of the most influential musical groups of the past 10 years, hands down. You may laugh at that statement, but in their relatively short career they assisted in the return to power of a kind of grandiose rock music that was sorely missed when their debut, "My Own Prison," hit the shelves of music stores around the country way back in 1997. In terms of mainstream rock, the album set the template for a huge amount of what would follow.

Think about it. Everybody that grew up wanting to avoid getting beaten up in high school pretended that Creed's ability to move millions of units with every album release was some big mystery, but it really wasn't. The post-grunge fad perpetuated by groups like Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, and Live was dying out by '97 and making way for nothing but bland pop-related fare, with only a few short-lived groups with feet in the various camps of ska, rap, pop-punk, and the familiar post-grunge sound giving 1995 and 1996 its lasting anthems.

In addition, the mid-90s saw a resurgence of interest in hair metal, the genre singlehandedly slain by Sir Cobain: many of these groups, who celebrated the sort of excess and debauchery the American public was starting to devour in droves with the growing popularity of tabloids, Monica Lewinsky, and Pam Anderson Lee sex tapes, quickly found that they had the ability to perform to actual audiences again and began touring, including Motley Cre, Poison, and even lesser acts like Cinderella. But these groups had not really gained any new sense of honesty or personality beyond that excess (though God knows they tried) and so for the disaffected teens who were unfortunate to grow up in the era after Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and something resembling a less esoteric version of Pearl Jam, something was still lacking.

Most of the kids I knew in those high school days are now 20 years old and grew up liking Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Papa Roach, and vilifying Creed over their unoriginality, musical crap, and other such things. However, Creed were multi-platinum before N'Sync released "No Strings Attached," Limp Bizkit released "Significant Other," and Britney Spears released "Baby One More Time." Now, absorb that little tidbit and maybe now, given the knowledge of the cicumstances of Creed's entry into popularity, we can now understand just how sorely missed Creed's variety of rock music was back in 1997, by way of explaining the success that has frankly puzzled their many detractors.

From that standpoint, it's not hard to imagine that Creed's sound was actually something newer and more novel from what most people were listening to. Pretend you're a disaffected angsty youth (come on, it's not that hard), living somewhere other than the Northeast in 1996. Creed is ideally suited to touch your musical appreciation in a good spot, given what we have to work with. We have a vocalist who was raised religious in a red state (Florida), and who has dealt with genuine emotional turmoil over his beliefs. Combine that with a musical backing that has got a hefty dose of talent and proficiency, you've got a veritable recipe for angsty heavy rock heaven.

Scott Stapp, if he ever was a genuinely disturbed individual, is definitely working out his demons here, from the opening moody darkness of "Torn," to the soulful singing and awesome lyrics of "My Own Prison" and "What's This Life For?" The lyrics overwhelmingly deal with confrontations with deep inner problems with authority, both divine and paternal, and the struggle to figure out what the mature course to take is given this turmoil. Generally speaking, unlike on later efforts, this comes across on a level that doesn't seem either overbearing or cliched enough to seem contrived. Although he occasionally succumbs to derivative platitudes, as on the nonsense of "Sister" or the filler "In America," (which is a feeble dig at liberal values with lines like "Only in America/we kill the unborn to make/ends meet") Stapp generally keeps up a high quality of lyrical play that he would lose almost completely by the end of Creed.

Of course, rock critics latched onto Stapp's vocal style and cried "Oh, they're ripping off Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots," which is probably understandable from the long, slurred phrases that abound on each song, but Creed's musical component--Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips, and Brian Marshall--had the collective musical guts and skill to throw down like a metal band. That was a BIG deal back then.

Take Tremonti. People freaked when Tremonti shredded some of the most technically proficient solos heard in recent history on Alter Bridge's debut album, and of course credited it to Tremonti being able to play now that he wasn't in Creed, but if anybody was actually paying attention they would have heard some utterly blazing solos on both the light/heavy rocker "Pity for a Dime" and the doomy, slow metal burn of "Illusion." The "Creed formula" of soft verse, heavy chorus was a powerful dynamic change that Tremonti practically invented in the form that it appears there. "Torn" and "My Own Prison" are probably the best examples of this dynamic: "Torn" is characterized by heavily minor arpeggiations on a clean guitar, arranged so that the notes ring out and harmonize with one another in a chiming, ambient way. "My Own Prison" features a long buildup of clean, minor-key tomes and heavier choruses, and a power-ballad-style flanged solo that expands into a loud interlude.

He is also probably the one member of the group most responsible for the heaviness that often cropped up in Creed songs such as "Ode," which featured blazing chromatic chord movements and harmonic squeals, and "Unforgiven," an unabashed metal song with a great interlude with fast palm-muted grinds and some simple but effective time signature changes, not something one ordinarily thinks of when they think of Creed. He creates a more anthemic tone with phased arpeggios and a squealy, dissonant, feedback-y solo at the tail end of the closer "One."

Which brings us to the capable rhythm section. Brian Marshall, for one, is a bassist who I don't think ever "rooted" (as bassists contemptuously call the practice of simply following the guitar line in unison) in the early days of Creed. His bassline forms the basis for the whole structure of the slow shuffle of "Illusion," and his awesome, clear tone adds immense depth to the clean arpeggiated passages of "Torn," "My Own Prison," and particularly the closer "One." He is constantly shifting around with higher-register riffs and low drones that fill out the mix in a great way, making the single-channel guitars stand on their own in the full mix. Scott Phillips is the weakest link with a wide variety of identical drumbeats (insert facetious grin here) but even then his endless cymbal chimes create an ever-hissing layer of percussion that suits the gandiose, dark mood the band intends to set, especially on songs such as "In America," where, despite the poor lyrical choices, he plays a lot of inventive fills and snare patterns, with perpetually crashing and chiming cymbals hissing everywhere.

As an album, the general tone of the music is much different from the band's later output. On the whole, it's relatively much darker, and a little more ambitious in the arrangements and less formulaic. I count this down to a little more creative freedom amongst the band members and a more genuine approach from Stapp, who would eventually lose this. This is less "mainstream" than most other "mainstream rock" of its type, because it is, while not exactly an innovator, at least a pathburner for its era. This album is a tome for much of what would follow from groups like 3 Doors Down, Default, Nickelback, and recent groups like Seether. Out of the whole album, my highlights would include "Torn" for its long development and relentlessly dark mood, "Unforgiven" for its brief metal onslaught and general awesomeness, particularly the interlude, and "Pity for a Dime," as it is one of the most interesting examples of the Creed light-verse heavy-chorus dynamic, in addition to containing a variety of recognizable musical influences from blues music (in the lead-in to the heavy guitars) and the shredding solo. In the grand scheme of things, the music here is simple, high-caliber mainstream rock. There's nothing particularly innovative in any element of what Creed does here, but it's important to recognize that only a few people combined it into such a successful formula, spawning a huge industry trend in heavy rock.

As Creed albums go, this is actually quite high-quality. It possesses the largest proportion of influence from metal music out of all the rest of the band's output, and it contains some of the best songwriting from the band as a democratic collective out of their whole career. Even when Creed delivered a terrible product, it wasn't entirely because they were a parody of popular trends, although that assessment does have truth to it. After all, Creed established part of the whole template for that particular trend, which is no small feat. It was because, as Creed grew bigger and bigger and Scott Stapp no longer felt the turmoil he had over his Christianity or his parents (in addition to inheriting a wealth of personal defects such as a huge ego, pretentiousness and alcoholism) his message of redemption through cathartic angst became contrived, disingenuous, and Creed began parodying themselves. With one perfunctory look at My Own Prison, we see that there was one point where Creed was genuinely talented, novel, and deservedly the hottest band around.

EDIT: I give this a 4 in the context of their later output, which is subpar (this is probably the better Creed album you could buy out of the three), and also to reflect my general assessment of its influence and importance to later trends in rock music that get ignored. The actual musical quality of the album, while still fairly high, is in my mind closer to a 3, probably around a 3.5 or something like that.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I pretty much disagree with your review around 77%, but it was good, if bloated, all the same.

Shattered_Future
May 20th 2006


1540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You don't really seem to go into much detail about the album, Cain...it's more your (for lack of a better term) "rant" on how Creed deserves more respect than they get.

I will admit, Creed were the band that got me into music. Without them, I wouldn't be here on this forum today. Even to this day, I still have a soft spot in my heart for them, and I'll listen to them every so often. Your review inspired me to put this album on once again (I'm listening to One now), and it is really one of the best mainstream albums around. This is far and away their best effort, featuring terrific music writing, a great all around performance from all members, and just a general sense of togetherness. Even though the production isn't the best, you can tell the band didn't ProTool the living crap out of this release.

Tremonti is severely underrated. Great writer, and he's got some awesome solos as well...he deserves more respect than he gets. And Marshall...man, why did they just completely take him out of the mix on Human Clay? He's an awesome bassist, featuring (as you said) actual INTERESTING basslines. Tons of bands could take a cue from Creed...bassists CAN be interesting.

All together, this album is one of the best things to happen to mainstream rock. It's got a catchiness factor to it (see One), totally hard rocking moments (Unforgiven), and tons else. Granted, the band went downhill after this one (not as much on Human Clay), but this was when they were still young, and still making music to make music, not make money. Bravo Creed, and bravo Cain, for realizing that.

Cain
May 20th 2006


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was my first attempt at a review with no track-by-track. It is a little low-quality
there...I'll be frantically editing for the next hour, no doubt.

I thought it was important to more show how, in my opinion, this particular album
could have been reasonably well recieved contrary to the generally percieved
opinion of "they're overrated," which has not only to do with quality but also the
context in which it was released. Now, I guess that could be a potentially bad way to
review, but for a band as well-known as Creed, finishing off my usual contextual
introductions with a track-by-track seemed superfluous.


If this is not a good review, if a moderator could be kind enough to give me pointers
or to delete the review and make me start over that'll be appreciated.This Message Edited On 05.20.06

Cain
May 20th 2006


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, yeah, I'm trying to tone that down. What can I say? This album was the album that got me into heavier rock, and so it provokes a powerful emotional response.

Thanks for the tips. I'll be working on it.

Honeymoon_Croon
May 20th 2006


297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the only Creed album I can stand... and it kicks major

The Sludge
May 20th 2006


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Obviously you worked hard on it, and it shows. I wish I can have that kind of disipline.
I had the same expirence with this Creed album. It got me into many of the music I listen to today, even if it isnt heavier rock. I agree that Scott Stapp is a major strawberry flavored douche, but Creed as a band is pretty good. :D

YDload
May 20th 2006


1207 Comments


It's no surprise that Creed's first album is also its least-annoying, but that's true for almost any mainstream rock band. I'm not saying they "sold out" after that first album made them big, because these bands were usually in it to make lots of money in the first place. They just needed to find that formula that would keep record sales high, and after that they could just phone it in and everyone is happy!

So yeah that's what Creed did, probably.

Hatshepsut
May 20th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It all makes sense now.
I don't have any Creed, but this actually sounds good. Nice review.

The Sludge
May 20th 2006


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

... my copy of this disc dont have that track 11, is there something wrong there?

Cain
May 20th 2006


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bonus track. That's the tracklist left over from the other review. I don't own that one either.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
May 20th 2006


3995 Comments


So you wrote this review for anybody who fit into the same unique class of misfit that you did in 8th-9th grade. I don't see how that is appealing or properly paints a picture most people need to understand this album.

Cain
May 21st 2006


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for all your help. :rolleyes:

The constructive worth of that post is zero, as is the downrating. How about giving
advice, criticizing various points of tone or form, and justifying the low score
instead of being a dick?This Message Edited On 05.20.06

Cain
May 21st 2006


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, I just thought I'd try.

I'm Charming
May 21st 2006


332 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I thought you were smart, Cain.

That's the longest ramble of idiocy I've ever read or at least among it.


It was well written, so you get my vote.

Content wise was just idiocy.

Senor_Whippy
May 21st 2006


367 Comments


Creed are one of the most influential musical groups of the past 10 years


Did I miss something?

CharmlessMan
May 21st 2006


169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

While I think that Creed are a pretty over-rated and shit band, this album still retains a certain underground quality, only because it was released into an unsuspecting mainstream, and it contains all of their better songs, like 'One' and 'Torn'. Probably their best album.

AbysmalFace
May 21st 2006


35 Comments


So this disc has listening value?
To think that all this time I've been dumping it into a paper bag with a pile of shit and then tossing it into traffic and watching cars run over it.

D-.

Storm In A Teacup
May 21st 2006


12781 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like Creed. This is a good album. Well written review.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2006


15737 Comments


Creed really suck. Scott Stapp hurts me. For being such a born again christian, he sure as hell parties and gets arrested a lot.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Shattered_Future
May 21st 2006


1540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Did I miss something?


You can't deny that quite a few different bands were influenced by Creed...



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