Mer De Noms

A Perfect Circle

Virgin, 2000

http://www.aperfectcircle.com

REVIEW BY: Benny Balneg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/23/2006

In order to realize the significance of this album, you need to look back at the music climate prior to its release. The year 2000 was dominated by Korn and Limp Bizkit, playing their brand of angst-y, hateful music dubbed as “Nu Metal.” However, a stream of copycats slowly dampened the integrity of the music, which hinted to its demise years later.

Enter A Perfect Circle. Mer De Noms struck a powerful chord in music at that time, becoming an an alternative to what was popular. The music can easily be compared to Tool, since Maynard James Keenan leads both bands, but features shorter compositions and a more accessible sound. From opener “The Hollow,” A Perfect Circle projects a full and polished attack where the band members (Billy Howardel and Josh Freese on guitars, Paz Lenchantin on bass, and Troy Van Leuwen on drums) hit on all cylinders, offering rhythms of introspection to level with the mysterious atmosphere provided by Maynard’s romantic lyrics. All in all, it provides a total counterpoint to the hard-edged guitars and hateful/whiny lyrics of nu metal.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A Perfect Circle also knows how to mix things up by shifting moods as it progresses, creating interesting climaxes in the music. “Magdalena” follows suit with Maynard crooning on the verse and blasting off again come chorus time. The strong riffs enveloping “Sleeping Beauty” are anesthetized by Maynard’s croons and wails from start to finish, creating texture and tension throughout the song.

However, the band’s strength lies when they play their hearts on their sleeves. Album highlight “Orestes” produces a sedate atmosphere with spacious guitars, subdued rhythms, and tender vocals, before tugging the listener with its magnificent climax (“Got to cut away / clear away / snip away and sell this / umbilical / keeping me from killing you.”) And it only gets better from there.

“Three Libras” may be perhaps one of the best songs recorded at the dawn of the new millennium. The introductory acoustic plucking and mesmeric viola are only indication of grander things to come. The song picks up when Maynard’s vocals enter the fray, and the music gradually rises from its tender rhythms to a soaring chorus that seems to reach the highest sky (“I threw you the obvious…”), before descending back to earth (“Apparently nothing at all.”) As soon as things reach static, the music flies once again, and this time, Keenan has no plans of returning (“You don’t see me...”) Just amazing.

“Brena” is another highlight. Somber guitars fills the air with emotion, Maynard swoons with his voice all over the place, and the tender lead before the end accents the pensive instrumentation employed by the group. Hearing this song would make you forget that you listened to “Reinholder,” where the passive vibe comes off as filler material, and “Thinking Of You,” a confused, mystically-charged number, with a strange chugging part where the line “Thinking of you…” is repeated just before the song fades out.

Focusing on the inherent strengths of the album, it is difficult not to be swept away by this album, considering that somebody had to offer something else aside from the nu metal of the day. With a fresh sound and a mighty vocal performance by Keenan, what we’ve got here is one of the best albums that graced the new millennium.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Benny Balneg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin, and is used for informational purposes only.