A Perfect Circle
Thirteenth Step


5.0
classic

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (87 Reviews)
October 16th, 2013 | 87 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums...

One of the amazing aspects of Thirteenth Step is how beauty, elegance, disturbance, and sorrow manage to collide into one another in a completely seamless fashion. Sometimes it happens all at once in the same song. Whether or not someone has been addicted to anything, it’s quite evident that the concept of the record is staggeringly intriguing. The man himself, Maynard James Keenan, has said that he has never been addicted to any type of drug before, but coming off this experience, one really gets the feeling that the man has been keeping something from the general public. He is notorious for being a major recluse after all.

The concept of A Perfect Circle’s masterpiece is quite simple actually. It is essentially the process of going through the twelve step program of ridding yourself of an addiction of some kind. The process is not necessarily in order, but the point of the concept is that it shows the process through the eyes of the addict, the people around him, and perhaps the most chilling part about it, his own mind. It is Maynard’s inventive lyrics and Billy Howerdel’s beautiful compositions that makes the concept so complex, deep, and innovative for a mainstream release. Everything flows so seamlessly into another and there is a purpose for everything on the album. There is a reason that the album contains, not eleven, not thirteen, but twelve tracks.

Once the album starts, you will notice that it is immediately different than Mer De Noms. It has a different sound and it is more focused on delivering the message than playing melodically. The Package kicks off the album at the height of the addiction with Maynard quietly delivering lyrics about the drug deal that is about to happen. Howerdel plays a very subtle yet menacing guitar riff that is complimented by a fantastic bass line. The song soon explodes into a true disturbance as Maynard chillingly whispers “mine…mine…mine” and once it slowly fades out, you will be hooked and mesmerized. Another song that places you in the shoes of the addict is Pet, but this song does it to an even greater extent. The song is actually the addiction exclaiming to the addict that everything will be okay. All he has to do is “pay no mind what other voices say. They don’t care about you.” The song is hard hitting and unsettling like The Package and its boasts fantastic musicianship all around.

While some songs focus on the addiction first hand, some of them focus on the people around him that don’t fully understand what he’s going through. The Noose is an incredibly lovely song filled with euphoric guitar riffs, beautiful effects, and it is a prime example of elegance and sorrow colliding. The lyrics are a family member or friend admitting that there are happy to see that the character is happy. However, this friend can’t help but wonder how the poor people that were killed because of the addiction will be repaid. While The Noose is more respectful in the way it’s delivered, Blue and The Outsider focuses on how people around can perceive the situation. The euphoria continues into Blue as an eerie guitar riff drives incredible harmonizing on Maynard and Billy’s parts. Maynard exclaims “call an optimist/she’s turning Blue/such a lovely color for you” and it is delivered with a certain amount of guilt that you begin to really feel for the person that is overdosing. After all, the person is just watching it happen and doing nothing about it. While Blue shows the cluelessness of the situation, The Outsider shows the ignorant side of it. It’s one of A Perfect Circle’s best known songs and rightfully so. The song is dark, surprisingly intelligent considering the subject matter, and extremely heavy for mainstream music’s standards.

The sorrow side of the album is the hardest hitting aspect of Thirteenth Step. Gravity and A Stranger are the true highlights of the album when it comes to delivering on guilt, depression, and overall revelations. A Stranger is a literally stunning acoustic song filled with swelling synthesizers, beautiful strings, and some of Maynard’s best lyrics about a relationship that is forced to diminish for the better because the drugs are bringing it down. It’s sad, but uplifting to here Maynard passionately confess “I’m better off without you/tearing my will down.” Gravity is perhaps the best song to end on best it provides the most uplifting message out of every song on Thirteenth Step. Billy’s talent as a composer really shines through in Gravity and it is his crowning achievement. His ability to convey emotion through music alone in this song is astounding due to his emotional guitar riffs scattered throughout gravity. It’s all topped off with the revelation that the character wants to change. “Catch me/heal me/lift me back up to the sun/I choose to live…I choose to live.”

This is album is the epitome of a hard hitting emotional experience in music. A Perfect Circle often gets the label of alternative metal, but this album as a whole is simply something much more. It is something special and regardless of anyone’s opinion of Maynard, whether it be that he is pretentious, lazy, or simply an asshole, this is one of the most passionate works he has ever been involved with. Billy really struck gold with bringing him in as his primary vocalist. Save this album very a gloomy cloudy, turn it on, and be taken away.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Worked hard on this one. Hope you guys like it :D

Green Baron
October 15th 2013


20006 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

CosmicPie
October 15th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Record's superb. Solid review.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys

YoYoMancuso
October 15th 2013


11153 Comments


Fantastic album, Mer De Noms is so incredibly average though. Love the review.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks man. You at least find Orestes appealing?

YoYoMancuso
October 15th 2013


11153 Comments


Orestes, 3 Libras and The Hollow are all brilliant.

Judith is disgusting. His mother is sitting there dying and he thinks the smart way to support her is to belittle everything
she believes in.

Acanthus
October 15th 2013


9543 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Favorite album, opens so damn strong.

Digging: The Knife - Deep Cuts

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

As long as Orestes gets some love that's fine with me Yoyo

Agreed hard Acanthus, The Package is such an underrated song.

Oh and as for Judith, I still love that song. But at least he basically apologizes for those lyrics in
the title track on 10,000 Days. And he does it beautifully.

CosmicPie
October 15th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Judith is disgusting. His mother is sitting there dying and he thinks the smart way to support her is to belittle everything she believes in."

I think it was more of him seeing how she was a slave of her beliefs, and that there is freedom outside of that. Freedom that's for her as well. The mind can be a prison.

CosmicPie
October 15th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, I just finished reading 10,000 Days. I guess he changed his mind. I don't know.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well yea religion can be like that, but it was still kinda disrespectful in the manner he did it. I guess it took his mother passing away to change his mind.

CosmicPie
October 15th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It definitely was arrogant the way he went about it. But I thought 10,000 Days was a pretty beautiful ode to her.

MeatSalad
October 15th 2013


14703 Comments


Judith is still a great song, lyrics aside

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

YoYoMancuso
October 15th 2013


11153 Comments


yeah 10,000 Days cancels it out

Ecnalzen
October 15th 2013


6706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lyrically, Judith is pretty intense (and over the top and downright nasty), but I really like the aggressiveness of that song musically and vocally.

Fucking Blue, man. Love that song.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2013


10856 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yea I enjoy Judith still cause it expresses my dislike for religion as a whole. Guitar and drumming is awesome.

Ecnalzen
October 15th 2013


6706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wasn't aware of the concept here. I will have to sit down.and listen straight through while reading the lyrics sometime.

Rowan5215
October 15th 2013


27199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn didn't know there was a concept either, sweet
The Noose is so fucking good

Digging: Vestascension - Breaching the Sound

Ecnalzen
October 15th 2013


6706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anybody heard this? New APC song:

http://www.spin.com/articles/a-perfect-circle-by-and-down-stream-three-sixty-greatest-hits/



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