Review Summary: Maynard shows his sensitive side.
I'm going to be perfectly honest with you: the big reason I picked up this album when it came out was because I heard that Maynard James Keenan was the lead singer. Tool being one of my favorite bands, I was expecting something to sound like it. However, right off the bat my expectations were proven wrong and it turned out to be something very different. It is a very sensitive affair for Keenan and much more personal. While it may not be the masterpiece that Thirteenth Step turned out to be three years later, it is still a great debut for the band. The album contains one masterpiece, some great songs, and some songs that are quite lackluster. While the album may not always be perfect, it is still worth a listen for those who love alternative metal.
As usual, Keenan's vocals and lyrics are incredible. Songs like Judith and Brena really showcase his versatile vocal range and most of Mer De Nom's songs take on an emotional roller coaster like music is meant to do. Keenan's lyrics are also left open to your own interpretation because some songs are actually quite thought-provoking. The standout song for the entire album would be Orestes.
"Gotta cut away, clear away, snip away and sever this umbilical residue keeping me from killing you!"
This song is an absolute masterpiece that should have been recognized by the music industry. The amount of emotions that this song contains gives me chills and it is capable of being sad, bleak, hard hitting, and beautiful often all at the same time. A fantastic music composition compliments Keenan's incredibly emotional vocals and Billy Howerdel also sings background vocals on Orestes too. He is quite a composer and every composition is great through every song. As for the lyrics of Orestes, they are left open to your own interpretation like most of Keenan's lyrics. This song is an incredible masterpiece and it is the most superior song on Mer De Noms.
Other standout songs include Judith, 3 Libras, and Thinking Of You. Judith is the heaviest song on the album and the lyrics will surely offend some people because it basically thrashes religion. If you are not easily offended by these lyrics it is worth a listen. Thinking Of You contains an awesome bass riff and it is quite a sexual song that Maynard openly said is about masturbating to the idea of anal sex. It's an impressive song, but I always like to imagine that it is about something more meaningful. Another standout is 3 Libras because it really makes you think and Keenan's vocals and Howerdel's music exceptionally beautiful. Almost every song (with the exception of the album closer Over) is absolutely beautiful in its own way do to Billy's incredible music. I don't understand what the band was thinking when they picked Over as their closer because Brena should have been the closing track.
Upon my first listen of this album, I had to listen to some of the songs like Magdalena, Rose, Thomas and Sleeping Beauty more than once because they did not quite click with me on my first listen. Aside from these songs not being as compelling as the rest, this is quite an excellent album. Billy and Maynard made a fantastic team on this album. You will experience a different side of Maynard on Mer De Noms and any fan of Maynard or alternative metal I recommend you pick this one up because you will love it.
Tracks I Recommend:
-Thinking Of You