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Perfect Circle, A - Mer De Noms
Label: Virgin Records
Release: 2000

1. The Hollow
2. Magdalena
3. Rose
4. Judith
5. Orestes
6. 3 Libras
7. Sleeping Beauty
8. Thomas
9. Renholdër
10. Thinking of You
11. Breña
12. Over

Mer De Noms - Perfect Circle, A
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There’s a poison infecting the music industry. Bands have grabbed hold of a style and ridden it into fame. Literally dozens of bands emerge every year, all sounding alike and becoming the “next big thing.” Music hasn’t seen breakthrough originality in years. Enter A Perfect Circle, the brainchild of former Tool and The Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Billy Howerdell.

     Originally planned to be a musical showcase for a female vocalist, for the album, famed Tool singer James Maynard Keenan takes vocal duties instead. However, Maynard lives up to his past and gives a great performance on this disc, proving his voice literally has no boundaries. Joined by Josh Freese on drums, Paz Lenachantin on bass and cello, and Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, Keenan and Howerdell make one great spectacle of an album.

     With Maynard on vocals, you’d think that the album might have a Tool sort of quality. This is not true. Maynard pulls of the most beautiful song of his career, “3 Libras,” on this album proving he is capable of much more than the intellectual, 8 minute spanning, gritty, songs of Tool. The grouping of the musicians is impeccable.

     The highest point comes at “Magdalena,” a gripping tale of a stripper; with Maynard relating it all back to himself. After listening to a bulk of the albums tracks you will notice the impact of the band’s unsung hero, Josh Freese. Throughout the entire album, he effortlessly adapts to many different styles of drumming, and can hit time changes and rhythms with ease. The best showcase of this perhaps comes on the stellar “Judith.” Easily their most acclaimed song, while not their best, everyone in the band pushes an extra mile for this song, great musicianship and Maynard ends the song with a build up of the refrain “he did it all for you,” holding the note for longer each time until the songs eventually drops into some wheezy guitar work before ending.

     While all of the songs pack a lot of power, the best track is undoubtedly; “3 Libras.” Backed by Paz’s beautiful cello arrangement and soothing guitar work, the album becomes the albums definite highpoint. Maynard has had depressing and emotional music in the past, but on “3 Libras” he shows utter compassion and true feeling, in this gripping masterpiece about feeling left out and passed over.

     Tool fans might not appreciate Maynard’s change of pace with A Perfect Circle, but Mer De Noms is indeed a very great offering. Howerdell and co. transcends musical trends and gives you a great dose of well-needed originality. A must buy.

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