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CD REVIEW: A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step
By Steve Allat - 12/06/2003 - 10:07 PM EST

Artist: Band: A Perfect Circle
Album: Thirteenth Step
CD Review: This is the second album for this group, with Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel at the helm writing most of the songs as on their debut. Maynard, whom you may recognize from his main gig, Tool, sets the tone for the album through his voice and lyrics alone. The music behind the voice complements but never overshadows, which I think is a shame, given the talent of the group which include former Smashing Pumpkins bassist James Iha. The expectations I had for this CD are similar to what I had for Audioslave's debut, and I was reminded once again about the downfall of having expectations.

The striking thing about the CD sonically is . . . it's lack thereof, especially when compared to their other work - 2000's Mer De Nom - which was much more hook-driven and full sounding. That may be because the original album started as a Tool side-project, and that link is more obvious than with this latest offering. The music here drifts, as opposed to attacking throughout and there is a lot of space given between the notes - not a bad thing, just overdone. There are only 2 moments where the guitar kicked in and perked my ears up (on “The Outsider” and “Pet”), only to be short-lived.

A very cohesive set of songs, Thirteenth Step aims to invite the listener in to explore 'the darker side of the human psyche'. While I'm up for such a listen, I found myself grasping in many directions, even though I could appreciate the effort and the emotion that went into the CD's creation. What was I grasping at? Something intriguing musically to catch my interest; something lyrical that I could understand (not comprehend - the low and whispered lyrics are too much and the CD comes sans lyrics); something to . . . happen. I would have thought that the 'dark side of the human psyche' would have the potential to be a bit more aggressive.

Although beautifully recorded played and produced, in the end the CD just drones on, and on, and on. I know now that it's meant to be a comtemplative album, with lyrics that offer something to think about or question. But for me, this just didn't do it. Too repetitive to be interesting, yet too much intricacy going on to be background music.

As it stands, I don't think I could listen to this CD very often, and won't be surprised if I don't even listen to it again.

For more information about APC, visit their official website:

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