Review Summary: The struggle of being the new band on the block brings out the best in Creed, giving us their awesome debut album My Own Prison.
Whenever somebody asks for my opinion on Creed, I am quick to fly the My Own Prison flag high. When Creed came onto the scene in 1997, they were a breath of fresh air for me. They were dark, heavy for a modern rock band, and had a very skilled guitar player in Mark Tremonti. It was obvious to me that the band knew they were going to have to pour themselves into My Own Prison in order to reach the stardom they so desired. It would be this stardom that eventually caused them to release their less than bearable later works, they got comfortable with their natural ability at writing radio hits, and that became their main goal. It’s a shame most people judge them based off of their more recent ventures, because My Own Prison deserves to be judged on its own merits.
On My Own Prison, Creed showed that they meant business with the general mood of angst and depression found on the albums 10 tracks. They also displayed reluctance to conforming to modern radio’s strict parameters. What most people don’t realize is that the two biggest singles from My Own Prison had to be cropped by quite a bit to fit the radio’s strict time requirements. “Torn” coming in at 6:23, begins with a calm and well constructed riff, it then breaks into a heavier, anger filled verse followed by an even angrier chorus. It also has a very well written bridge and overall is a very well written song. “My Own Prison” is just 2 seconds short of 5 minutes long, and has some of the best guitar work on the album. It has an excellent chorus that has Stapp step back and let Tremonti sing a bit, and his vocals fit the sad atmosphere perfectly.
The most dynamic song on here is “Pity for a Dime”. It has a very relaxing opening riff and atmosphere in general. However, near the first chorus things start getting dark and it leads into an amazing guitar solo by Tremonti that rivals even the things he has done with Alter Bridge. This song is truly an accomplishment by such a young band that is new to the music industry and didn’t really know each other all that well at the time.
For fans of grunge and heavier rock, this album doesn’t disappoint in any way. Take “Ode” for instance. It has a fast, thrashing riff that plows its way through the whole song, stopping only to let Stapp and Tremonti sing for a great chorus. The heaviest song on the album without a doubt, is “Unforgiven”. It’s a freight train of a song with a very heavy riff and very angry lyrics. It also has a bridge that causes your blood to boil as Stapp sings “No more raping innocents!” louder and louder as it becomes increasingly clear he means every word of it. None of this would work if the musicianship wasn’t what it is, and by that I mean it’s near perfect. Mark Tremonti is obviously the star, throwing riff after perfect riff at you without ever compromising or cutting corners. And Brian Marshal is always audible with his bass, throwing creative fills that catch you off guard into the mix. He really gets the chance to shine in “Illusion”, which opens with a bad ass bass line and features some of the best guitar work on the album. The drum section isn’t technical by any means, but it has a raw, not overproduced sound that I find appealing in music.
The other two singles, “What’s This Life for” and “One”, are also great songs. “What’s this Life for” has a very good opening clean section and an amazing, albeit, simple chorus with some very passionate vocals. The lyrics on this one trudge into Nu-metal territory at times, but remain believable thanks to the quality of the music they were put with. It ends after the bridge reaches it's heaviest point and doesn't throw in a final chorus just to fit the standard radio mold. “One” is pretty standard in its composition but makes up for it with its quality writing. It has a very good chorus and the guitar work is really uplifting and, as always, captivating.
The only songs that aren’t quite up to par are “In America” and “Sister”. In America doesn’t really stand out lyrically, or musically, but does feature a pretty cool bridge. Not bad by any means, but it’s not on the same level as the rest. “Sister” has cool guitar work throughout, but it failed to hit me like the other songs did. With My Own Prison, Creed created an album most bands would kill to have as a debut. It’s almost as if a completely different band composed this album, and maybe that's how it should be remembered. An album that caused a band so much fame that they forgot themselves in it, and in turn, lost the passion it takes to make an album such as this.