'Thirteenth Step' -- A perfect CD for A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle'Thirteenth Step'Virgin Records

A Perfect Circle has taken another major step in the rightdirection with their latest release "Thirteenth Step." This bandclearly isn't just some half-hearted side project of the greatestvoice in rock, Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, and his friends.It is one of the most ground-breaking groups composed of sometalented minds in modern rock. The results are one of the mostmeaningful and pleasantly different albums of the year.

A new spice to things has been added by the addition ofex-Marilyn Manson bass beater Jeordie White (better known as TwiggyRamriez) and Ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. Theirmatured talents combined with the creative genius of leadguitarist/song writer Billy Howerdel and Maynard's angelic yetdriving vocals makes for one rock album with a lot of soul.

The first track "The Package" sets the tone for the rest of thealbum with its mellow, rhythm-heavy beat and some thought-provokinglyrics by Maynard. The song is the longest on the album (almosteight minutes) and lets the listener know that this CD is in no waya carbon copy of 2000's platinum debut CD "Mer de Noms." Forfree-thinking listeners or for listeners with no pre-conceivednotions of what A Perfect Circle sounds like, the band's evolutionshouldn't be a problem after a few times through the CD. That maybe untrue for fans of the heavier tracks on "Mer de Noms" or Toolalbums.

This album flows amazingly well. The pace, instrumentation andmessage of each song varies from track to track, but the mellowprogressive mood of the album ties everything together soperfectly. Transitions from the strong and powerful first single"Weak and Powerless" to their jab at organized religion with "TheNoose" are done with ease. Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails adds hisintricate guitar style that adds to the euphoric feel of"Noose."


"A Stranger" is a song quite comparable to their hit "3 libras."An acoustic track with no percussion that underline the soothingvocals. Although it isn't the strongest track, APC's extremelydelicate cover of Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me" is worthnoting. Maynard singing a love song is a rarity and with vocalmelodies as beautiful as these backed by wonderfully arrangedstrings on this song make for audible bliss.

Howerdel, Iha and White let their massive riffs loose on heaviertracks like "The Outsider" and "Pet." Both songs display a rawanger without going all death-metal on you. The soulful attitude ofthe album still remains solid while the guitars roar in and out ofthese songs.

It's really impossible to describe how incredible this album is.Anything Keenan puts his mind into turns to gold. Lyrically itsaturates your mind and spirit. Leaving you enlightened andinspired. It's true modern day poetry.

Just be sure to give it a few listens before you really judgeit. The more you listen to "Thirteenth Step" the more you get outof it. This is probably because it's mellower and quite different.It may take a little while to appreciate that, but variety andchange are the true spice of life and you get plenty of it in thisalbum. This album is art. It's exactly the shot in the arm the rockscene and mainstream music needed. It rivals Radiohead's "Hail tothe Thief" and the White Stripes' "Elephant" as the top releases of2003.

If you're getting tired of your CD collection and need somethingdifferent or if music is your life's passion you must own this CD.It is near flawless, so I give it a five of five stars.

Adam Wiltgen is a senior at Fillmore Central High School. Torespond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, categoryTEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118,Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail

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