Music-Slam Album Review: Thirteenth Step – A Perfect Circle (2003)


I will not pretend to be unbiased, this band’s last album, MER DE NOMS, gets a lot of play along with all the works from lead man Maynard’s second ensemble, Tool. One important thing to know about this reviewer is that I expect people to disappoint me. So, I was geared to hear nothing special. However, somewhere in the middle of the album I’d forgotten our identities and felt merged with the music.

Most every other review of these guys will give you info on the band members and who has been added or subtracted. I can’t really tell the difference so I don’t think it is relevant to the music itself.

The album starts with “The Package” and it is like being on a swing starting low swinging higher and harder, heaving to arrive where the air is thin and the music drifts back down to wallow in the wreckage of being “Weak and Powerless” which is writhing like a fever of cold sweats and grieving that allows for the “Noose” to slip around the neck and erotically asphyxiate feelings of goodness into a burst of bad, choking on the halo that got too big for the head and shook itself “Blue”, a statement of what it is like to lose all the air from an argument one might have with oneself.

Silence proceeds a marching movement toward the “Vanishing” line of the inner landscape where the music brings us closer to the edge of oblivion on nice interwoven blades of ethereal grass. “A Stranger” reminds me off how I feel when I am in the bathtub after it gets cold and I am stoned, swollen, wrinkled and sadly staring at the mirky water of washed away soap and skin. So, when what is supposed to makes us clean just makes us a new kind of dirty, “The Outsider” pumps its opinion, a grinding stone of exfoliating sounds that suck me back into the “Undertow”(a Tool song). “Crimes” is Maynard counting to ten quietly over drum and bass for two minutes.

Then, a moment of clarity. “The Nurse Who Loved Me” checks our vitals, sorta like coming to consciousness in the sunshine and then stretching the brilliance out with a daydream, a smoking bowl or glass of red whine. If you ever wondered what “Free as a Bird” from the Beatles would be like if A Perfect Circle did it, here is your chance. . .don’t miss it, this one is THE sleeper hit of the album!!!! “Pet” is crawling like a lizard at large on a fancy dance floor- flooding suddenly. Emotional swelling lifts us to a plateau and Maynard tells us to stay there and go back to sleep. So, a woman with a cracking yet perfectly pitched voice rolls out a brief “Lullaby” so we can sync with “Gravity”–a line walked. A circle stretched. A sound in spiral. So where did the THIRTEENTH STEP lead? Back on track to #1 because the end flows nicely into the intro.

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3 Responses to “ Music-Slam Album Review: Thirteenth Step – A Perfect Circle (2003) ”

  1. “because the end flows nicely into the intro….”

    a thus a “perfect cirle” is achieved.


  2. “…glass of red whine.”

    God, lay OFF the reefer and go back to grade school. Even if you were intentionally trying to be ironic, that was just bad.


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