Credo - 'Against Reason'

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Credo - 'Against Reason'

Tremendous, thought-provoking songs, gorgeous melodies, wonderful musicianship.

Three albums and a live DVD in seventeen years may sound like a work rate to rival that of Boston, but it's what happens when real life and other priorities get in the way. Unlike Boston, Credo has managed to "up the ante" with each successive release, and it has to be said right at the outset that 'Against Reason' is really quite a stunner, and exceeds even my (admittedly high) expectations.

Eight tracks sprawling over some 65 minutes give some idea of what is in store, but the four tracks book-ending the album ('Staring At The Sun' and 'Cardinal Sin' at the start, and 'Conspiracy (MCF)' and 'Ghosts Of Yesterday' at the end) are all epics, each clocking up more than ten minutes: and each one an absolute masterpiece. 'Staring At The Sun' has global warming as its mantra and gets the album off to a breezy start, and reveals just what a cohesive unit Credo has become; moreover vocalist Mark Colton has never sounded better. He does not have a great range – but delivers the frequently acerbic lyrics with authority, poignancy and verve.

'Cardinal Sin' is a song focused upon the sleazy underbelly of human relationships ("hunger fuels the greed; loathing turns to lust"). Progressive rock is rarely packaged more effectively than it is here: musically subtle - twisting and turning and inducing strong emotions as it spits out menacing sounds that enhance the callous lyrics. There is so much happening here, and the maturity of musical understanding amongst the combo is breathtaking!

'Conspiracy (MCF)' finds the strength of Credo's lyrical mastery reaching a zenith on a track that questions whether information in the public domain is "conspiracy, truth or lies" as well as engaging upon the focus of some mystery case files. The wizardry of keyboardist Mike Varty is significant here while Tim Birrell (guitars), Martin Meads (drums) and Jim Murdoch (bass) prove once again what an effective unit they are as they weave dramatic layers of sound of varying intensity. Concluding number 'Ghosts Of Yesterday' will surely resonate uncomfortably: a despairing song about the plight of a society that is coming close to imploding ("Communities brought to their knees by governments deaf to their pleas; industrial diseases from false economies sold down the river on a half-baked scheme"), a ticking clock - real and metaphorical - introducing and closing this phenomenal song.

Although I have chosen to emphasize these four juggernauts, 'Intimate Strangers', 'Insane' and 'Reason To Live' are all hugely powerful statements both lyrically and musically, only the brief instrumental title track somehow failing to maintain the flow. It's a not unpleasant but moody number that has the temerity to fade without quite making a clear statement of intent.

So, this is Credo's equivalent of 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and could so easily have been entitled 'Dark Side Of The Earth' given the brooding lyrical focus upon some of the less savoury aspects of society, human life and existence. The insignificant title track apart, this is a tremendous triumph for Credo and one that sets the bar at pole vault level for album number four. Tremendous, thought-provoking songs, gorgeous melodies, wonderful musicianship: 'Against Reason' is my album of 2011 so far…

Paul Jerome Smith

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