Upsetting
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
This Week's Hot CD: A Perfect Circle's 'Thirteenth Step' from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Thirteenth Step (Virgin)

Unburdened by Tool's devilish heaviness, James Maynard Keenan's side project showcases his lyrics, melodies and singing in a more accessible package.

The undercurrents of Middle Eastern melody and rhythm find a fuller expression here than beneath Tool's hammering bass and drum. The group's second release is a more radical departure from Tool than was 2000's "Mer de Noms."

The reason is primarily the replacement of guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen by ex-Smashing Pumpkin's James Iha. Iha not only brings a lighter touch to the band, but more versatile and deeper textures as well. His acoustic guitar on "The Stranger," backed by a lovely string arrangement, gives Keenan's lyrics space to breathe.

Replacing bassist Paz Lanchantin is the more melodic Jeorie White. While one has to be in a certain state of mind to enjoy Tool, A Perfect Circle is a band for all seasons. Despite the subdued setting, Keenan has lost none of his fury; he mostly keeps it in check. (Bill White)

GRADE: A
 
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