Review Summary: A Perfect Circle doesn't drown in the sea of names.
How does one sail in a sea of names? How does a band brave murky waters devastated by winds of change and waves of emotion? Five courageous musicians boarded a vessel in an attempt to answer those questions. What we received are 12 masterfully crafted tracks not only answering those questions, but raising even more. We voyage through the foggy atmospheres and ominous ambiance of Mer De Noms
with a mere candle to light our way. Mer De Noms
is an album intended for those willing to search for answers. Any expecting to solve what A Perfect Circle is about will drown. Only the willing will swim through the dismal waters beneath. Now is the time to hold your breath and dive deeper into the mystery of Mer De Noms
“Gotta cut away, clear away…” is the mission statement of the album. ‘Orestes’ serves as the epicenter for what Mer De Noms
aims to achieve. Among the most unique tracks of the record, ‘Orestes’ is a gorgeous arrangement of tone and atmosphere. The song has a refreshing ambiance alongside a soft picking guitar and chilling vocal presence. The song quickly elevates in intensity upon reaching its end. The concept of rebirth drives the song in regards to what the band hopes to achieve. A Perfect Circle is a fresh start for the members, not a side project. One would consider this to be the mission statement for the record as a whole. A Perfect Circle is more than a super group – they are here to stay.
Mer De Noms
tackles many themes, however, the most straightforward of the bunch would be ‘Judith.’ Many misinterpret this to be a shallow ‘angry at God’ narrative meant to incite controversy. While the song was (and still is) controversial among release, there is a lot more depth to the story. ‘Judith’ describes the arguments Maynard had with his mom, Judith, throughout her struggles with health. The song acknowledges her unwavering faith in the Supreme Being despite Maynard’s objections. Maynard struggles to understand why a woman who did no wrong deserves to suffer in such a way. Yet, her faith is something he is inspired and disgusted by. This duality is explained through numerous songs. What makes ‘Judith’ important, however, is the fact her story is carried once more in 10,000 Days
, an album dedicated solely to her. It’s very interesting how her story translates across 2 albums.
The experimental nature of Mer De Noms
makes each track unique from the rest. The soft mellow vibes quickly turn to destructive blasts of distorted synths and beefy riffs. ‘Rose’ begins with a poisoned tri-tone riff that emulates throughout the song. “I am. I will. So no; longer. Will I. Lay down. Play dead. Play your; doe,” churns out the moth of Maynard as a barrage of synths and guitars assault the airwaves. The once mellow uneasy riff transforms into down-tuned destruction. ‘3 Libras’ relieves the tension of the album with a well arranged string orchestra. The emotional masterpiece details a story about a relationship unwilling to blossom due to their wounded past. “Threw you the obvious, and you flew with it on your back. A name in your reflection, down, among a million same,” accounts how the narrator opens up to his partner, but she ignores him.
The couple fear to begin a relationship out of their wounded past. Although the narrator is willing to risk it all, the partner fears being hurt again. “You don’t, you don’t, you don’t see me,” drives the impact of the song through the soul. Climbing vocals, driven guitars, and immersive story climaxes simultaneously. Mer De Noms
is organized in a way where the tension is spread out. Right when the intensity climbs, a somber song follows to make the peak more impactful. Each song is diverse enough to do so themselves, but the effort isn’t wasted here.
One of the leading factors in making Mer De Noms
an instant classic is the production quality. Billy Howerdell knew exactly what he wanted from the band. Blends of metal, progressive, and industrial rock curate a unique experience exclusive to A Perfect Circle. Drums, guitar, bass, and vocals are all represented equally throughout Mer De Noms
. No one instrument stands out from the rest, which makes the chemistry all more important. The seamless nature of how the group collaborates in every song makes an intriguing listen. One example would be ‘Magdalena’ where the intro incorporates all instruments. The intoxicating atmosphere is painted by a grooving bass, slow drumbeat, and melodic lead guitar. Eventually, the instruments explode into the chorus during a slow build.
Mer De Noms
is no doubt an achievement from the band. There’s a reason why it’s the top selling debut album of the Billboard 200. In a time where rock was saturated with carbon copies and spin-offs, A Perfect Circle dared to be different; they dared to be themselves. No one expected A Perfect Circle to be as good as they are. These expectations were what drove the group to be more than what they are. They made their own path instead of following in someone else’s. All they needed was a debut album, but instead, they got Mer De Noms
. The album demonstrates not just a sea of names, rather, there is no perfect circle aside from the band.