A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step - Mainlining agony

2006-03-29 18:33
If ever an album insisted you reconsider the rewards of any sex, drugs and rock 'n roll stereotype, then Thirteenth Step is it. A much-needed antidote to the carefree and couldn't care less myth of the debauched rock muse, it's a visceral exploration of the alienation, despair and loss of self-worth of the recovering addict. Put more plainly, Thirteenth Step is a sardonic reference to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, a musical map if you will of the treacherous path towards restoring self-esteem.

Given the intense thematic content, it's more than apt that chief songwriters, guitarist Billy Howerdel and vocalist Maynard Keenan (from Tool) avoid any excursions in nu-metal bombast, recycled grunge or refashioned garage rock. "Weak and Powerless" may suggest a radio-ready anthem in its chugging modern rock mood, yet it transports the listener straight into the f**ked up paranoia of the post-rehab psycho-geography. While "The Noose" delineates the raw nerve claustrophobia of withdrawal with a narcotic quiet storm echoing through the melodic bass murk of the "Vanishing".

Similarly sombre ballad excursions like "Blue," and "Lullaby" (featuring Swans' Jarboe on vocals) simply mainline an understated rock agony, with pristine production fixing the listener in the alienated afterglow of "A Stranger". Alternating monochromatic noir moods ("The Package") with detached string-driven slow aches ("The Nurse Who Loved Me", "Gravity"), when A Perfect Circle suddenly return to the familiar heavy rock pyrotechnics of "The Outsider" and "Pet", the listener is left reeling in the dizzying cathartic ache.

Thanks to junkie rockers like Jimi, Janis, Elvis etc. etc. alcohol and drug induced dissolution is still being sold as a one way ticket to iconic musical martyrdom.

max 2004/01/12 3:32 PM
tool It's okay, maybe a bit concpetual. Tool
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