A  Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step

A Perfect Circle
Thirteenth Step

(Virgin)

First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12

Written by John Metzger

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A Perfect Circle (APC) is the brainchild of Billy Howerdel, a former guitar tech for Nine Inch Nails. Wisely, he lifted Toolís Maynard James Keenan, making him both his songwriting partner as well as the groupís lead vocalist. With the exception of drummer Josh Freese, however, the rest of the bandís line-up has been in an almost constant state of flux. After the release of its debut Mer de Noms, bass player Paz Lenchantin joined Billy Corganís now defunct ensemble Zwan, and midway through the recording of APCís sophomore set Thirteenth Step, former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen departed, too. Jeordie White (a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Mansonís band) was tagged to replace Lenchantin, and before touring began in support of Thirteenth Step, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha was added to the ensemble. Forget for a moment that the band was founded by a roadie, with this kind of turbulence, APC should be mediocre at best, despite its high profile players.

Still, what might have sunk a lesser band has only made A Perfect Circle stronger. Indeed, Thirteenth Step is a remarkably focused outing, and its 12 songs form a conceptual piece regarding heroin addiction and recovery. The opening opus The Package is about making a score, Weak and Powerless is about the uncontrollable nature of an addiction, and The Noose is about impending death by overdose. The Outsider views the addict from the vantage point of a loved one, while Gravity spirals through the constant need to fight for survival against the drugís allure. Hence, the albumís title. There is no thirteenth step, one that leads to full recovery. Instead, every day is a constant struggle with oneself.

Not surprisingly, A Perfect Circle surrounds the darkness of its lyrics with music that matches the safe serenity of heroinís high with the ominous tones of danger that lie beneath the surface of its attraction. As a result, the songs are sometimes soothing and dreamy; at other times, they are haunted and harrowing. Rarely does the band push them into the realm of hard rock, but when it does, it sets off a thunderous cacophony of sound that mirrors the intensity of the storyline. Just as quickly as it appears, however, the raging firestorm subsides, and the tunes settle back into the heavily textured terrain of progressive rock albeit with shadings of pop. For certain, there are moments when A Perfect Circle resembles the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janeís Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and, of course, Tool. Yet, for each similarity, there are twice as many differences. In other words, A Perfect Circle is staking out its own turf, and joining these fine groups in turning modern rock and heavy metal into something worth hearing. starstarstar Ĺ

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Of Further Interest...

Lostprophets - Start Something

Radiohead - OK Computer

Weezer - Make Believe

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Thirteenth Step is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2003 The Music Box