Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
I first discovered Swedish AOR sensations Creye via their second album Creye II released via Frontiers Music srl in 2021.
This was a truly glorious piece of modern Scandi AOR that certainly whetted my appetite for more and here we are in 2023 with the third album III Weightless and I could not be happier about this.
The modern AOR scene is chock full of bands producing the kind of European AOR peddled by Creye, but few of the other acts can match the sheer majesty of the material that Creye produce. They just seem to have the knack of combining excellent songwriting with just the right balance of Rock power and pink and fluffy AOR gorgeousness and never has this been more true than on III Weightless. There are nods to AOR’s classic past throughout this album, but Creye have wisely opted for a more modern approach to the genre and this suits them admirably.
Opening with the aptly-named ‘Glorious’, Creye kick into gear from the get-go with a gloriously up tempo rocker chock full of hard rocking guitars and subtle keyboards that provide an immense and multi-layered bedrock for August Rauer’s fabulous vocals. This man was born to sing AOR and no mistake – velvety smooth, with a great tone, he makes these songs his own with a supremely consistent display throughout. There are no crazy histrionics, just hook after hook, supremely well delivered.
For the hardened AOR fan, highglights on this album are many. First single, ‘Air’ starts off all subtly with washes of delicate keyboards before the driving guitars and drums pound in. It’s full of lovely dynamics – all spacey, clean, pink and fluffy one moment, chugging guitars the next and topped off by an absolutely gargantuan chorus with pounding drums and scything (yet oh, so polite) guitars and a beautiful solo.
‘One Step Away’ roars in with all the subtlety of a nuclear strike, with colossal down-tuned riffery and huge swathes of keyboards and yet another massive chorus hookline. This is Creye at their most ‘modern’: those down-tuned guitars give it a heaviness that some AOR acts are a tad afraid of, but in Creye’s hands it sounds perfectly natural and balances out the more gentle moments in the song.
‘The Game’ initially comes across like a big Pop ballad, with some gently crooned vocals over layered keyboards but it isn’t long before everything kicks in and we’re back in modern AOR land. To my ears, despite being another winner, this is perhaps the weakest track on the album, which, given the strength of the track just tells you how good the rest of this record actually is!
Second single ‘Spreading Fire’ is next and it’s an absolute cracker, with an almost classic 80s Metal styled chugging guitar riff. But fear not, the layered keys and huge vocal hooks keep us firmly on the right side of the ‘pink-and-fluffyometer’. The chorus in this one is absolutely huge and one does kinda wonder where Creye keep digging them up from! Awesome stuff and we’re only about halfway through the album!
Title track ‘Weightless’ is next and kicks in with a very modern Rock drum pattern cleverly reversing the normal snare and bass drum positions in alternating bars – listen and you’ll see what I mean. It’s another example of the way that Creye step out of the classic form of the genre and into a more up-to-date sound. The guitars are back to that gloriously down-tuned roar this time and this is perfect for the track, but once again the combination of heavy guitars and massed keyboards with huge vocal choirs works perfectly. It rocks just hard enough and there is no sacrifice of any melody whatsoever. Stunning track!
‘How Far’ changes tack very slightly with a proper Pop-Rock vibe in the verses, but the pre-chorus and chorus soar aloft on wings of pure AOR delight. There’s a slight Work Of Art vibe to the melodies and chord sequences on this one, which to the hardened Scandi AOR fan is surely no bad thing, right?
‘In The Shadows’ has an almost 80s Dokken-esque feel to the main riff – all high speed chugging and chordal stabs, with relentless foot-to-the floor drumming but once again, the keyboard layers keep it just the right side of the AOR fence and the chorus is as Scandi AOR as they come. This is followed by the truly glorious AOR balladry of ‘Stay’ where vocalist August Rauer shines brightly, using his voice to great effect on a beautifully gentle piece of keyboard drenched soul-searching. This is the first time that the tempo has dropped and it’s not only in exactly the right place in the sequencing, its production and arrangement is the perfect contrast to what has gone before. When everything kicks in for the massive, conclusion the whole thing just takes off and superlatives fail me. Wonderful stuff indeed!
‘Dangerous’ picks up the pace and the heaviosity once again and we’re back to the sound of the rest of the album on another high quality slice of AOR where once again guitars and keys combine perfectly and there’s even a rather fabulous keyboard solo in this one!
Well, if you thought the last ten tracks were good, you’ll be absolutely right, but I tell you now, nothing that has gone before can prepare you for the utter magnificence of the final track. How many bands save their best track for last? Not many I can tell you! Now, when I review an album for the site, I always like to play it through two or three times to get a good feel before writing anything. With my initial play of this album, I got to the last track, ‘Pieces’ and was so blown away that I just played this one track over and over about six times! I couldn’t get past it! It reminds me of the first time I ever heard Swedish AOR legends Work Of Art as it has that kind of vibe and it blew me away in just the same way. The way that the deceptively simple vocal hooks move against the chord sequences and the massed layers of guitars and keys literally gave me goosebumps and that is a rarity these days! Standout track on an absolutely wonderful modern AOR album! Why it hasn’t been released as a single is beyond me!
There’s a lot of AOR out there at the moment and it’s sometimes easy to dismiss much of it as formulaic and dull, but that is not something you could ever say of this awesome band and this excellent album. They just seem to be getting better with each release. If you only intend to try one Scandi AOR album this year, for goodness sake start here with Creye and III Weightless. Utterly and completely essential!!
“III Weightless” Tracklisting:
- One Step Away
- The Game
- Spreading Fire
- How Far
- In The Shadows
Produced by: Jacob Gustafsson
August Rauer – Lead Vocals
Andreas Gullstrand – Lead Guitar
Fredrik Joakimsson – Rhythm Guitar
Joel Selsfors – Keyboards
Gustaf Örsta – Bass
Arvid Filipsson – Drums