Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – A Perfect Circle

It was a 5 skulls out of 5 skulls review in the Hot Metal mag I used to buy, which at this time became known as “HM” as the term “Metal” was uncool to use. And since I’ve always agreed with that reviewer in the past, I forked out the $24 for the debut CD.

Also before I purchased, I knew that Tool vocalist, Maynard Keenen was doing vocals and how guitar technician to the alt-rock bands, Billy Howerdel had all the music written.

“The Hollow” starts the album and the first thing that hooks me is the vocal melodies of Maynard over the soundtrack like music from Howerdel and a song structure which doesn’t really follow convention, like the verses have different music in each verse, while the melody remains the same.

“Judith” has a groove riff which gets the head banging, and when the riff is repeated in the lower registers for the verses, I was ready to break desks. Then when the pre-chorus and chorus kick in, I was trying to break desks, but somehow my kung-fu skills deserted me. And that pre – chorus;

Fuck your God
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why

“Orestes” is my favourite track on the album. The vocal melody from Maynard is like a lead guitar and the drumming in the song, especially in the outro by Josh Freese is a testament in its own right. And when the lead from Billy Howerdel comes in, its like a vocal melody as well.

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that’s
Keeping me from killing you

“3 Libras” has this outro vocal line where Maynard sings “you don’t, you don’t see me” and the octave guitars from Howerdel support it, while drummer Freese continues his improvisation in outros.

“Thomas” is okay, but when that outro comes in from about the 2.49 mark, it elevates the song. “Renholder” has a “Diary Of A Madman” like intro which hooks me. Actually, the band used to merge “Diary Of A Madman” with “Love Song” from The Cure.

“Brena” which when sang is “Brenya” is another one of those atmospheric songs in the verses with a crashing chorus and a vocal line that sounds like a lead instrument. And again, those outros make you want to press repeat.

And the debut album was huge.

Then in 2003, came “Thirteenth Step”. And it was different, even more experimental and progressive. While the debut had the songs nice and concise and around the 4 minute mark, this one had longer songs.

Even the writing was different. The debut album had all the music done, and Maynard just added vocals. On this album, Howerdel was sending music ideas to Maynard while he was on tour with Tool for the excellent “Lateralus” album and they collaborated in that fashion.

“The Package” at 7 minutes in length kicks the album off and it’s a subdued opener, building on drum patterns each minute at a time. It was like a Tool song.

And I’m thinking, where is this all going?

And it’s not until the 4 minute mark that the distortion guitars come crashing in.

When artists follow their own path, and write what they want to write and not what a label A&R rep tells em, well, it’s what I love about music.

After been taken on a different journey with the opener, the “Weak And Powerless” track brings back some familiarity, as it’s a throwback to the debut album.

“The Noose” brings it back to feel of the opening track. But the chorus vocal melody from Maynard gives me goose bumps and sets it apart from the opening track.

“The Outsider” is my favourite track. I used to cover it, in a band I was in, between 2004 and 2005. Musically it was fun to play and the heaviness in the second verse, is head banging stuff.

I also like “Pet” purely for its heaviness in the intro and chorus and the quiet of the verses. And that lyric, “slave to the rhythm of a new world order”.

Then came eMOTIVe, a covers album, but done in a way which is unique to A Perfect Circle.

Like the opening track “Annihilation”, which is a cover from a hardcore band called “Crucifix” however it’s played very quietly via a piano and the vocals are whispered. Then they cover “Imagine” from John Lennon and it stands on its own as A Perfect Circle song.

Elvis Costello’s “Peace Love and Understanding” is unrecognisable by the “APC reinterpretation morphing” machine. Even “Whats Going On” from Marvin Gaye, gets the APC morph.

But the best song on the album is “Passive” which is an original and a co-write with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.

And since then, it was a long gap between albums.

Billy Howerdel released a solo album under the band name, “Ashes Divide” which was excellent. Maynard was part of another Tool release in 2006 and then the long wait for a new Tool album started as well (which is scheduled for this year). In between, Maynard had another side project called “Puscifier”.

And the next APC album “Eat The Elephant” came out in 2018 and a few songs stuck out like “The Doomed”. But I havent committed too much time to it.

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