A Perfect Circle
Thirteenth Step


4.5
superb

Review

by DropTune USER (65 Reviews)
January 27th, 2018 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Thirteenth Step” offers an emotional album through the subject of addiction and recovery.

“Thirteenth Step” is an album in a class of its own. While the early 2000’s gushed out countless alternative acts, A Perfect Circle served as the best kept secret. Haunting melodies, gripping vocals, and a crisp sound give this album enough to evolve past “Mer De Noms.” Although the subject is simple, the album explores addiction in an immersive amount of intrapersonal and psychological directions that give the listener enough substance to remain song-after-song. For those who don’t want to read the full review, a shortened version is left at the bottom. Without further ado, let’s leap into “Thirteenth Step.”

‘The Package’ sets the tone for the album in what serves to be a style most familiar to Maynard James Keenan. The song details an isolated standpoint that describes the subject manipulating their way into achieving what they want. “Clever got me this far, then tricky set me in. Eye on what I’m after, I don’t need another friend,” delves the listener into the depth of the album ahead until the weight of, “take what’s mine,” drags them further.

“Tilling my own grave to keep it level; jam another dragon down the hole,” fills the atmosphere with ‘Weak and Powerless.’ A noticeably softer track following ‘The Package,’ ‘Weak and Powerless’ adds variety to the album delivering a more mainstream approach to the albums signature single. The bridge section of the song is especially impactful with the lyrics, “little angel go away, come again another day--the devil has my ear today.”

‘The Noose’ is the heart and soul of “Thirteenth Step.” Arguably one of the best tracks in A Perfect Circles discography, ‘The Noose’ tells the subject not to forget the struggles of their past, but to look forward to what they’ll become. ‘The Noose’ captures the essence of the album in describing the central theme of being in a thirteen step program. Lyrically, instrumentally, and emotionally, the listener can feel what the song is about. One can almost imagine sitting in the circle and facing the subject as they say, “…and not to pull your halo down around your neck and tug you to the ground, but I’m more than just a little curious how you’re planning to go about making your amends to the dead.”

‘Blue’ is another strong track off of the album. The opening riff is unconventional and gives the song character. The lyrics are a bit more complex than its predecessors. The song details a person in denial of their addiction, but switches between perspectives of the addict and an observer. The songs emotional chorus is enough to send chills with, “call it aftermath she’s turning blue, such a lovely color for you,” sending shockwaves throughout the experience. The song is noticeably lighthearted during points helping to relay the theme of ‘ignorance is bliss.’

‘Vanishing’ and ‘A Stranger’ are two underrated tracks on “Thirteenth Step.” Most write off these songs as filler, but skipping them takes away from the impact of the album. ‘Vanishing’ relies on its ambiance to deliver a chilling passage about vanishing during a high. ‘A Stranger’ is more ambiguous with its message, but is mostly regarding what I interpret to be a vicious cycle the subject cannot escape. Both tracks, although unpopular, are well done if not noteworthy.

“Lying to yourself again suicidal imbecile. Think about it, you’re pounding on a fault line,” invades the stereo as ‘The Outsider’ drives the pace of the album. ‘The Outsider’ provides some aggression to the mix and delivers an intense story about a person who fails to understand the mindset of a self-destructive individual. The pounding riffs and MJK’s signature vocals produce one of A Perfect Circle’s most recognizable tracks.

‘Crimes’ and ‘The Nurse Who Loved Me’ are the outliers on this album. There isn’t much to say about ‘Crimes’ other than that it counts the stages of recovery; however, ‘The Nurse Who Loved Me’ is more interesting. ‘The Nurse Who Loved Me’ is an eerie track that describes a person in a dream-like state fantasizing of a nurse. The track is quite polarizing among fans who don’t know how to feel about its inclusion. Objectively speaking, the track provides some experimentation for the band. It’s not a bad track, though many are turned off by the tone.

“Don’t fret precious I’m here. Step away from the window and go back to sleep,” are lyrics fans won’t soon forget. ‘Pet’ served to be one of A Perfect Circles most important songs in many ways, but the track serves to have many meanings. The most obvious is in regards to commentary on The War on Terror where the other deals with drug addiction. The lyrics describe an internal war between two halves of a person. One side begs the other to submit and stay safe where the other calls for rebellion. ‘Lullaby’ branches off of ‘Pet’ and leads into the closing track.

‘Gravity’ deals with an individual choosing to live and recover from addiction. The atmosphere allows for a refreshing vibe and a sense of serenity. The track provides a great relief from the wave of emotions felt throughout. “Catch me, heal me, lift me back to the sun—I choose to live,” sway the listener into a calmer side of A Perfect Circle as the album closes.

“Thirteenth Step” is a mesmerizing album accomplished by multiple standout tracks, musical maturity, and compelling stories. The immersive reality the songs deliver is astonishing in understanding the complexity of addiction and recovery. Although plagued by filler tracks, “Thirteenth Step” allows the listener into the headspace of an addict and takes them on a journey through a thirteen step program. Many say the somber approach to the album is a step down, but I find it necessary to the focus of the album itself. “Mer De Noms” and “Thirteenth Step” both tackle different themes. While “Mer De Noms” uses heavier industrial style sounds to capture the intrigue of A Perfect Circle, “Thirteenth Steps” softens up to deliver the reality of the theme.

One criticism I find is the organization of the tracks. I believe ‘The Noose’ would have been better suited as the closing track due to the impactful nature of the lyrics. The narrative would also flow better with the subject choosing to live, go on a path to recovery, and then result in a conversation about not forgetting where you came from, how hard it was to get there, and not letting your halo drag you down. The album, obviously, could have done without filler. ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Crimes’ were not integral to the overall experience “Thirteenth Step” has to offer.

All in all, “Thirteenth Step” is a great album I highly recommend. “Thirteenth Step” is without a doubt an important album to hear and is one of my favorites. Although the subject of addiction is common among musicians, I believe “Thirteenth Step” separates itself through the isolated nature of the lyrics. Addiction and recovery are delivered personally and psychologically instead of a standard ‘don’t do drugs’ perspective. A 4.5 is justified due to the impact the album has on A Perfect Circle and the quality of the songs involved.

Quick review:
Although flawed, “Thirteenth Step” offers an emotional album through the subject of addiction and recovery. Arguably among A Perfect Circles best, “Thirteenth Step” offers a somber and darker approach to the mindset of an addict through the use of compelling themes, immersive ambiance, and intrapersonal lyrics.

Standout Tracks
Blue
The Noose
Pet



Recent reviews by this author
William Ryan Key VirtueSlipknot .5: The Gray Chapter
System of a Down ToxicityNine Inch Nails Bad Witch
Mike Shinoda Post TraumaticSenses Fail If There Is Light, It Will Find You
user ratings (2966)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
DropTune
January 27th 2018


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks DarkZeroSin -- this is my first review and I'm glad to know you enjoyed reading.

artiswar
January 27th 2018


9268 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love track-by-track reviews, and what a first pick

FadedSun
January 27th 2018


2080 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nurse is the only track I can do without. Ruins the whole flow for me.

artiswar
January 27th 2018


9268 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nurse is a beautiful rendition honestly. It was years before I realized who Failure even were. I'm glad I finally did because they're almost as special as APC.

Aerisavion
January 27th 2018


1705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DISCONNECT AND SELF DESTRUCT

ONE BULLET AT A TIME



Enjoyed the review dude, have a pos

DropTune
January 27th 2018


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

'The Nurse Who Loved Me' is certainly an acquired taste. Its more of a concept song than anything. Most find it similar to an Alice Cooper single than anything. I understand why many listeners don't like it, but I wouldn't go as far to say it doesn't belong.

Ocean of Noise
January 27th 2018


10676 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The Nurse Who Loved Me is awesome. Album is flawless.

Digging: After Forever - Exordium

bloc
January 27th 2018


57579 Comments


Excellent album, haven't heard it in a while though

Digging: Orphaned Land - El Norra Alila

Valkoor952
January 27th 2018


2749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The nurse is awesome, however gravity and a stranger have always been underwhelming for me.

artiswar
January 27th 2018


9268 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Gravity took the longest to grow on me but once it finally did, oh man... Might be one of their best songs. And A Stranger is just beautiful but I guess it can be considered filler on an album this good.

hexfix93
January 27th 2018


1815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I always liked Gravity, one of my favorites on here tbh. A Stranger was more of a grower for me. I found it underwhelming at first, but after a few listens I began to appreciate it more. Not the best track on here, but solid.

Also, nice review. Pos'd

DropTune
January 27th 2018


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I felt 'Gravity' would have been better suited among the opening songs. It feels like an odd place to end. It takes a bit to grow on you due to the optimistic tone, but its certainly a solid track. Its hard for me to pick favorites on this album.

artiswar
January 27th 2018


9268 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think it's perfect as a closer. The sequence of tracks is perfect, I wouldn't swap anything.

TheSpaceMan
January 27th 2018


12237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yo this is pretty good for a 1st. just some general advice in case you hopefully keep reviewing:



1. "“Thirteenth Step” offers an emotional album"



summaries are important to nail, cause itll be read first. what i quoted is worded a bit weird, since it is the album. replace 'offers' with 'is'.



2. dont self reference your review in cliche/unnecessary ways, saying "without further ado" is just a wasted sentence and doesnt contribute anything and is just cliche. also don't bother saying "if you dont wanna read my rev" cause youre sorta saying it isnt worth reading. you gotta own what you write dude.



3. in future reviews, try to talk about the album as a package rather than a track by track basis. this one is actually fine as is, but it only really works for people reading it who have context with the album and is a sorta lazy way of reviewing, as youre basically summarizing the album bit by bit. again though you did it alright and people have recieved it well



4. remove the title "quick rev" and any reference to it, as you can just sorta let that be your natural conclusion. in reality, the concept of a quick review is basically the summary feature we get at the top



5. and lastly, if you type [ i ] [ i/ ] without the spaces in the brackets, everything in between will be italicized. I'd recommend using this for an album title and then just using "..." for song titles, as it looks cleaner than using ' vs " to differentiate those two.



anyways nice job have a pos

TheSpaceMan
January 27th 2018


12237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also The Nurse Who... is nothing compared to the real version on Fantastic Planet

artiswar
January 27th 2018


9268 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The original is really damn good but this cover is better I think. They're very hard to compare cause they have a totally different feel. It was super weird hearing the original so many years later. That song is one of the lesser tracks on Failure's album though imo.

DropTune
January 27th 2018


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for the tips SpaceMan. I'll apply that to my upcoming review. Italicization isn't something I commonly use. Some find it hard to read, but I'll use that for album names from now on. This is one of those albums where summarizing it as a whole is difficult due to the musical quality. I really appreciate the tips and hope to see more.

DropTune
January 27th 2018


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

For those of you who enjoyed this review, I posted one about Bring Me the Horizon's controversial album "That's the Spirit." Here's a link if you want to check it out.



https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/75974/Bring-Me-The-Horizon-Thats-the-Spirit/



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy