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Credo: Against Reason

Studio album number three "Against Reason" see's British neo prog stalwarts Credo growing in strength. This is just an album of pure and sublime brilliance. The band may have take two and a half years to record and release this new album, but one thing this is for sure, the wait has been more than worth it, two and a half years that have definitely not been wasted.

The band continues to move in the realms of early Marillion, IQ and Arena, but it never becomes dull. In fact this is a band that has a story to tell and as a listener it is a story that needs to be heard. This is a band that isn't afraid to challange and stimulate, from the opening track which features the dexterous Mike Varty inviting you into the world of Credo; "Staring at the Sun" is a anthemic song about global warming, which intelligently comments about our ability to mess things up, its sense of urgency really highlights the point and will have you singing along in no time, being a spectacular album opener. The rest of the band step up and present their case, Tim Birrell really excels here with his guitar structures; a dynamic that when it's incorporated with Mike Varty's layered keyboards makes for perfection. The icing on the cake is Mark Colton's ability to tell the story vocally, poignantly, his voice presents every emotional nuance that is displayed through the song, which is something that he does excel in. There are few vocalists out there that can tell a story and have you hanging on every word like Mark can.

"Cardinal Sins" has the band moving in darker circles topically, the whole band displays a fantastic ability to control themselves, one minute sedate, the next brooding, musically offering soundscapes that twist and turn, offering pain and sorrow. It's a piece that carries such sincerity, warmth and comfort musically, as it wraps and encompasses your senses, unlike the subject mater which is cold and callous. "Intimate Strangers" majestically struts from the speakers, rhythmically touching all the required points, the band sits in the shadows, almost voyeuristic as Mark Colton is allowed to develop his quest to build images that are almost real, you can imagine yourself being there. His moody approach really confirms the intentions of the characters, its a song that sounds less convoluted than some of the other tracks, but on repeated listening, this idea is blown out of the water, the song is just fantastically layered proving that the band can provide and play neo prog of the highest order.

"Against Reason" is a moody instrumental interlude, the calm before the storm, before the powerful and thought provoking "Insane" kicks its way into your world. A song which questions the justification of how television bombards its images of violence into everybody's safe haven day after day, the atrocities being justified by religion, a relevant and pertinent song for today's woes, which almost negates the message of the two songs "Too Late" and "To say Goodbye" presented on Rhetoric. The vocal prowess develops like a well acted conversation; each tone used being a different character, which is questioning, angry and perplexing never understanding the justifications on the whole insanity of the cause, something that the music really amplifies. This piece just twists and turns exemplifying what Credo are all about. The haunting "Reason to Live" develops the beautiful melodies that spew forth from Tim Birrell and Mart Varty's interactions, the shortest piece on the album, ethereal and sedate confirming that Credo's songs don't have to epic in proportion to be classy.

"Conspiracy" along with "Ghosts of Yesterday" utilise the might lyrical power of the band, cleverly playing with words, "When all that's left is hear say, truth masquerades as lies, disarmingly economic with the facts, you fill them full of half truths, an illusion of the mind, confuse them with coincidence" words that collude, building their own conspiracy's, as does the music. Mike Varty underpins the whole movement with fantastic dexterous keyboard wizardry whilst the rest of the band weaves in and out of the meter and timbre with excitement, succinctly hitting those perfect tones that they are renowned for. "Ghosts of Yesterday" powerfully builds a picture of society that has imploded in on itself, the will to battle or change, lost, the cycle repeating itself, "Village of the living dead, can't be arsed get out of bed, waste the day get out your head never see the new world out there". The approach used here really confirms what Credo are all about, perfection in emotion, musically and lyrically, never afraid to challange the listener, a song that will have you talking, a song that will draw you repeatedly back for another listen, never really sure as to whether what you have just witnessed was real, being the perfect musical bookend to the album opener "Staring at the Sun", which to be perfectly honest is what will happen when you have hear this seventy minute nirvana of neo prog. The statement of intent of the band is that powerful.

Musically Tim Birrell touches on all the musical notations that I love in music, his playing is passionate, emotive and very impressive, whilst bassist Jim Murdoch frenetically runs his digits all over his bass fretboard, never getting chance to breathe, punctuating precisely along with drummer Martin Meads, whilst Mike Varty builds his layered tones, that swirl, twist and turn in your head, being perfectly married with the might and rather awesome vocal presentation of Mark Colton.

Where the band goes from here I'm not to sure? What I do know though, is that on the strength of the progression of each of their album's recorded, album number four maybe something to behold. 2011 and prog is starting to gather pace with intelligent and stunning albums, something that Credo should be proud of, as they are a part of this and its albums like this that are keeping the genre alive.

1) Staring at the Sun
2) Cardinal Sin
3) Intimate Strangers
4) Against Reason
5) Insane
6) Reason to Live
7) Conspiracy (MCF)
8) Ghosts of Yesterday

Added: June 1st 2011
Reviewer: John OBoyle
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Credo: Against Reason
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-05-31 18:14:53
My Score:

Sometimes spoken about in a derisory fashion, neo-prog often comes in for a bad rap and when there are albums as stunning as Against Reason from Credo, then I really, really can't understand why. Put simply if neo-prog falls anywhere onto your musical radar, then this is an album that you need to have in your collection. Yes the reference points can reasonably easily be picked out, with IQ, Arena, Fish era Marillion or Pallas being obvious bedfellows of the Credo sound. However when the results are as startlingly effective as they are here, then comparisons are pointless, the best thing to do is to just bloody well revel in it!

Not famed for being the most prolific of bands, Against Reason is only the third studio album to surface from Credo in their seventeen years together, but I suppose the old adage about rating quality over quantity is a perfect fit for the UK quintet. The album opens in glorious style, with the ten minute "Staring At The Sun" being a wonderful mixture of melodic themes, poignant lyrics, atmospheric slower passages and stunning musicianship and I just love that the song is already three minutes old before we get the first taste of Mark Colton's cultured and soaring vocals. It's a bold statement and one that instantly impresses with how the complex passages are linked by a remarkably singalong chorus. I mean, is prog really meant to be this catchy?? Don't worry, the purposeful keyboard solos and spoken word passages that warn of the dangers of global warming ensure that this is a song that stays a million miles away from disposable. Not content with hitting you straight off with one long, but amazingly memorable song, "Cardinal Sin" follows at similar length, but is pleasingly different in execution. More restrained and intricate in form, the keyboards of Mike Varty dominate as they range from gentle tinklings, to robust sqwarks, but enough space is left for the stingingly melodic guitar work of Tim Birrell to hit its mark with pinpoint precision while Colton proves that his easy but effective vocal on track one was no fluke, by upping the ante further with a more threatening, but always crystal clear delivery.

Not content with opening the album with two mini-epics, Against Reason closes with two songs of similar length, with "Conspiracy (MCF)", which opens with ear piercing computerised noise before using a double quick shuffle to herald in one of the more pompous keyboard led songs on the album. Add to that busy, yet unobtrusive percussive work from Martin Meads and a roaming bass line courtesy of Jim Murdoch and this is another recipe for success. Closing track "Ghosts Of Yesterday" builds and builds as only prog can and there's everything from a guttural riff and atmospheric vocals, to rag time piano and a ticking clock involved this time, showing that Credo really can craft songs of grand scale and vision.

In between the longer songs come four short(er) numbers in the shape of punchy and upbeat "Intimate Strangers", which strongly reminds of Arena, the brooding instrumental title track, where there's the odd touch of Pink Floyd, the unsurprisingly off kilter "Insane" and the beautiful, emotional "Reason To Live". On any other album these four songs would be reason enough to shout its praises. However when surrounded by the stunning opening and closing quartet, they make for a sharp, incisive and eclectic journey between four of the best neo-prog songs you are liable to hear all year.

Against Reason confirms that Credo really are one of the strongest exponents of what the neo-prog genre has to offer and while their albums may not come around very often, when they do you know that you are in for some of the best progressive music you could ever wish for.

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