Against Reason is the third album of the British neo-progressive rock band Credo. The second album Rhetoric (2005, see review) and the DVD-release This Is What We Do (2009, see review) were both well-received in the Dutch prog rock scene because of the excellent quality of the songs and the subsequent outstanding live shows. However, being a reviewer of Background I have to be impartial, honest and critical. I must admit that it was very hard to remain objective after listening several times to - in my opinion - the best release of 2011 so far. Since Rhetoric the band still consist of singer Mark Colton, guitarist Tim Birrell, keyboardist Mike Varty, bass player Jim Murdoch and drummer Martin Meads.
The opening piece of Against Reason is Staring At The Sun, a very serious and emotional song about starvation and war. In the spoken words of Mark Colton, you can hear his worries about the way we treat our vulnerable planet. Musically you can compare this ten-minute piece to an early Marillion-song during the Fish-era or to an Arena-song. However, these men are so talented that they have a musical style of their own. The fast played keyboards, the heavy guitar riffs and the exciting drumming and bass playing immediately threw me into raptures. It's rather surprising that this song starts with the chorus lines; an excellent start. Lyrically the second track Cardinal Sin is even a bit more pessimistic and music wise it's a sophisticated blend of the music of Arena, Pendragon, Pallas and Shadowland. The middle-section contains an emotionally well-played guitar solo followed by a piano and synth solo. The darkest part is the instrumental passage at the end containing one of the finest duels between the flashy synths, the guitars and the drums.
Then it's time for Intimate Strangers, a difficult song to play for all musicians, because of the complex rhythms and vocals. For this song bass player Jim Murdoch deserves a compliment for his beautiful bass playing. After several spins I was still surprised by the variety of solos in this exciting song. The title track is a short atmospheric and spooky instrumental in the vein of Arena. I like this kind of musical bridges between the first and the second half of an album. The fear of being Insane is told and dictated by Mark Colton. I for one call this a 'carousel song' because of the waltz-like rhythms. Again the verses and refrains don't belong to the happiest ones: what makes a man kill his brother, what makes a man kill another. After the two terror attacks in Oslo, the capital of Norway, and the isle of Utoya, the lyrics of this high standard neo-prog song even became reality. Listen to the beautiful guitar solo of Tim Birrell halfway through. And finally there's a stirring speed-up at the end, while Colton is singing faster and faster Are We Insane, Are We Insane, ending with a repeating machine gun...
To catch one's breath Credo wrote a ballad named Reason To Live having difficult, intricate and interlaced vocal and guitar lines as a kind of positive statement after the dark songs Insane and Cardinal Sin. From the words in the lyrics, I conclude that Conspiracy is a political statement and declaration from Mark Colton and Credo. From the several synthesizer and guitar solos in the middle-section I got shivers down my spine. Again Credo knows how to touch me straight to my musical heart.
Ghosts Of Yesterday is the final chapter of Against Reason, which is lyrically more optimistic than all the previous songs. It contains lots of fantastic guitar and synth solos and all the other elements that make Credo such an outstanding neo-prog band. Against Reason differs from the previous releases of Credo, but with the same high quality level that will bring them to the premier league of progressive rock music. Never before, I had such an easy job to rate an album with the maximum of five stars...
***** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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