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Human Clay - Creed (1999)

Synonymous with teen angst, depressing lyrics, and loud power chords, the early 90's grunge era brought to light such "inspiring" acts as Alice in Chains, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana (not to mention dc talk's little flirtation with the genre in 1995's get-on-the-bandwagon album Jesus Freak). This mad-at-the-world outlook fueled a rebellious youth culture, which even now continues to view self-centeredness and negativity as the norm. Searing Gibson electric guitars and drum-thrashing rhythm demonstrate that one South Florida band has kept the genre alive--yet with largely optimistic, spiritually-suggestive lyrics. Although certain blemishes marred Creed's debut, the sonically harsh second effort from Scott Stapp (lead vocals), Mark Tremonti (guitar, vocals), Brian Marshall (bass), and Scott Phillips (drums) isn't far off the mark. Human Clay tackles such issues as searching for inner meaning ("Say I," and "Inside Us All"), shameless optimism ("What If": "The more you hold us down, the more we walk on"), the wonder of birth and parenthood (#1 radio single "With Arms Wide Open"), and the emptiness of fame ("Inside Us All": "Where shadows paint the scenes/Where spotlights used to fall/And I'm left wondering/Is it really worth it all?"). Though not openly religious (in fact, the band has publicly expressed that they are NOT Christians), the band offers accurate, even Biblically backed, views on the human psyche and condition. Creed's hope is ultimately faceless, even while Human Clay gives scripture heavy rotation with "Higher," where Stapp intones, "Can you take me higher?/To the place where blind men see?/To the place with golden streets," and album opener "Are You Ready?" which echoes Matthew 7:7. Rather than suspecting Creed, believers should praise songwriters Stapp and Tremonti for raising issues of purpose, unfading youth, and sacrifice—"churchy" concepts that the broader culture needs awareness of. True, their lifestyles could mislead many, and they never see their questions to any ultimate conclusion—such is a life apart from God. Little about Creed resembles their early 90s forebearers, and that's a good thing; with only minor discrepancies, Human Clay is unblemished rock.
- Co-wrriten by Ben Forrest and Josh M. Shepherd