Credo - Against Reason,
In another lifetime (or at least it seems that way now), I was talking to singer Mark Colton one day (previously of Casual Affair and then with Freewill) and he told me that he had been approached to also join another band, then called Ad Hoc. The name soon changed to Chequered Past, and then to Credo and the band started to make their presence felt on the London circuit. Mark’s ‘main’ band Freewill folded and he put all of his energies into Credo who signed a contract with Cyclops and soon released their debut album ‘Field of Vision’. Back then I was very involved with the band, attending most of their gigs and trying to publicise them in any way that I could.
It became apparent that keyboard player and main lyricist Mik Stovold wasn’t going to be the right fit going forward, and Shadowland (and now Landmarq) keyboard player Mike Varty came on board and this was where the band really started to get traction. While drummer Paul Clark and bassist Jim Murdoch provided the solid background, guitarist Tim Birrell and Mike Varty lifted Credo to new heights while Mark was the consumate frontman. But although the band were improving all the time, writing great music and having storming gigs, all was not well. It transpired that Mark was seriously ill, and at one point was only a few hours from death, while Paul was also having some issues. This meant that the band while working behind the scenes seemed to have gone dormant to many prog lovers minds.
Mark started singing with a folk rock band where he met drummer Martin Meads, and when Paul announced he was leaving Martin was the obvious replacement. It was the new line-up that released ‘Rhetoric’ only eleven years to the day from the debut. During the intervening years myself and Mark has located to different parts of the country, so I wasn’t so up todate with the material but the album blew me away and I did manage to see them play again before I moved to the other side of the world.
And so, onto the third album. I haven’t seen the band play live for more than five years, so this was all new to me. Mark had been raving about it to me, so it was with some trepidation that I put it on the player. Straight from the opening of “Staring At The Sun” I was captured and enthralled, and everything that I had planned to do for the next 69 minutes was placed on hold. The band may be accused of playing neo-prog, but what’s wrong with that? I like neo-prog! I was lucky enough to be heavily involved in the UK prog scene in the early Nineties, and while it could be argued that this belongs to that time it is way more polished and musical than most of what was coming out then.
This really is a musical tour de force – it is everything that a prog fan could want and much, much more. I have always previously viewed Mark as more of a frontman than I have as a vocalist, his passion onstage is what lifts the band and the performance. While he is often likened to Fish I feel that it is an unfair comparison – there may be similarities but his range and intonation are quite different. However, my view has now changed as having heard just about everything he has ever recorded (including much that has never reached the public domain) I can categorically state that this is easily his best performance ever. The control and pitch are superb, and the rest of the guys have also stepped up considerably. Tim Birrell has been their secret weapon since the very beginning, one of the finest guitarists ever to grace a UK prog stage (if you don’t believe me then search out “A Kindness?” from their debut and imagine how much better that was live) – and here he is using a controlled restraint as he links with Mike to provide incredible interplay. Martin and Jim provide the bedrock, which allows Mike and Tim to really stretch out. If you want to listen to just one minute of how good this album is then start playing about two minutes into “Insane” and the next sixty seconds provides everything you could ever wish to hear from this style of music.
Credo’s best album to date? Definitely. My favourite prog album of the year? Oh yes. Any regrets? Yes, I’m the other side of the world so haven’t heard any of this being played live. If you enjoy progressive rock music, melodic rock, neo-prog, art rock, or any of the other labels that get bandied about then you owe it to your ears to get this. To find out more about the band then visit their website. Credo ‘Against Reason’. It doesn’t get any better than this