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)