3. A Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step
It’s official. A Perfect Circle is now a supergroup, and with the Thirteenth Step, the band’s second album, they show they are as talented and audacious as (perhaps even moreso than) any of the bands they each came from. Along with principal members Billy Howerdel, Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and the Vandals/session drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese, A Perfect Circle is now joined by Geordie White (a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez) formally of Marilyn Manson and also (although he did not play on this record) James Iha formally of Smashing Pumpkins. This new lineup showcases a brighter more evolved sound that resoundingly steps beyond the boundaries of what most side projects ever dare accomplish. The music is dark yet introspective and sweeping, although magnificently simple and precise, accompanied by a few perfectly placed female backing vocals by Jarboe. The album is not quite a concept album but several songs almost seamlessly blend from one to the next, such as the monstrously powerful “Pet” and its serene bleed into “Lullaby.” Rather than a mere offshoot of Tool, A Perfect Circle has grown into a masterful medley of beautiful acoustic ballads, noisy ambient instrumental interludes and textured monster metal jams with Keenan penning his most personal inviting lyrics since the earliest days of Tool.