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A Perfect Circle | Thirteenth Step | review | rock | Lollipop

A Perfect Circle

Thirteenth Step (Virgin)
by Tim Den

Believe it or not, I'm a bigger fan of A Perfect Circle than I am of Tool. The former just have more tricks up their sleeves than E minor Sabbath jams and polyrhythmic drum fills: They have enigmatic turbulence, an unspoken sorrow that resonates beyond Goth tendencies and prog atmospheres.

Many have pegged Thirteenth Step as overly indulgent prog, perhaps because it doesn't cater to Tool's suburban angsty (and often dimwitted) fanbase. But pay no attention to the naysayers: A Perfect Circle have always been - and continue to be - an ominous poltergeist that harnesses presence and paranoia rather than spelling things out in brutality. Take for example the album's strongest offering, "The Noose": Layers of slow building around haunting melodies (another of vocalist Maynard James Keenan's strengths that rarely shows up in Tool), gathering steam not so much mathematically as organically and flowingly, until the dam can no longer hold the emotional outpour. Waves of wrist-slitting beauty cascade atop gloomy lyrics ("your halo's slipping down to choke you now"), almost numbing your senses with so much pain. Of course, delivered in Keenan's voice, the pain is absolutely gorgeous, even if it's slow moving and often not "heavy." In fact, if you're looking for "rock" of any kind besides patient, multi-faceted, drifting, and hazily-dreamy, go back to the debut, Mer de Noms. There are only surrealistically ebbing movements here.

Fantastic cover of Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me." From an arena rock song to a lullaby without losing any of the original's gracefulness.


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