A PERFECT CIRCLE

"Thirteenth Step" (Virgin; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

After three years and some line-up changes since "Mer de Noms" was released, A Perfect Circle completes what their names indicates. 

Billy Howerdel still has creative control here and knows that Maynard James Keenan possesses the perfect vocal touch when it comes to delivering emotion, brood and melancholy.

The CD's title refers to the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. One could conclude that A Perfect Circle seeks to cover all types of emotions and do so with uncommon instrumentation, including strings.

The vocals are the icing on the emotional cake (and that cake must be shaped like a guitar). The music is the most important part of A Perfect Circle. It’s more melodic than Tool and that’s 180 degrees from where this journey started. After having some legal battles to deal with, Keenan teamed up with Billy Howerdel (who worked with The Smashing Pumpkins and NIN), so you can just imagine the music that comes out of your speakers when this disc is played.

I found "Thirteenth Step" to be a great listening experience; it's an emotional journey to enjoy the music produced by A Perfect Circle. Each spin will allow you to discover more of the excellent music and, perhaps more importantly, the messages put forth. Although the guitar is absent in some parts, the music that replaces it is just as good. The CD becomes more theatrical when that happens.

The best songs here are “Weak And Powerless,” “The Outsider,” and “Pet.”

A Perfect Circle: Billy Howerdel - guitar and vocals; Maynard James Keenan - lead vocals; Josh Freese – drums; Jeordie Orsborne White -guitar (certain songs); James Iha – bass.

For more information, check out http://www.aperfectcircle.com

"Mer de Noms" (Virgin; 2000)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

A Perfect Circle's eerie atmosphere comes courtesy of vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Keenan can deliver such vocal emotion and he does it without exploding, like he would with Tool. He seems to crawl just beneath the surface and his unique style makes for an excellent combination with the brooding guitar of Billy Howerdel (the mastermind behind this disc) and Josh Freese on drums. 

"Mer de Noms" seems to have been born out of Tool and Smashing Pumpkins. Each listen conveys a new emotion. If you are looking for something that is totally different from Tool, but that's still a little challenging to digest, then pick up this theatrical offering. It’s intense enough for work-out music but retrospective enough to get your mental juices flowing as well as your physical juices.

The predatory lyric delivery is all Maynard. He has power and yet restrains himself on this disc. It's almost borderline metal and Goth and, if you want to mix those two together, you better get ready for a rousing and hard time ahead with Maynard at the mic. I can recommend this CD with full self-assurance that you will like it.

The best tracks here are “The Hollow,” “Magdalena,” “Judith,” and “3 Libras.”

A Perfect Circle: Billy Howerdel - guitar and vocals; Maynard James Keenan - lead vocals; Josh Freese – drums; Paz Lechantin – violin; bass.

For more information, check out www.aperfectcircle.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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