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a perfect circle - Mer De Noms (Virgin)

For once in your life, just once mind you, DO believe the hype. And the hype has been massive, a video by David Fincher ("Seven", "Fight Club"), a tour with Nine Inch Nails, overwhelming street-teaming and a promotions job that dwarfs eve that of NIN's "The Fragile". But the hype is secondary, put that, the massive sales, the "highest debuting first album by a rock band" in the Billboard chart and the Spooky Kids in APC T-shirts, out of your mind and just LISTEN. APC, despite being a 5-piece, is really just about 2 people - Maynard James Keenan of Tool and guitarist Billy Howerdel, whose CV includes work with NIN, David Bowie and The Smashing Pumpkins. The collaboration came about when Billy worked with Tool producing "Ænima". Maynard heard Billy's music and asked to do some vocal work for it and APC was born.

APC is a completely different beast to the dark, intense sound of Tool. With that band, Maynard's vocals were just a part of the powerful, oppressive and experimental music, here he's given the chance to use his voice to its fullest potential, backed with the more standard semi-industrial rock sound. And use it he does. He has one of the most distinctive voices in rock, managing to convey intense power, yet always managing to remain uniquely melodic at all times. From the dark intensity of 'Magdalene' or the powerhouse 'Judith' to the plaintive 'Rose' and the emotive melody of 'Orestes' or '3 Libras', he unveils facets of his voice that were often buried with Tool. The music, too, runs the gamut of style, from the pounding rhythms of 'Thomas' or the brooding energy of 'Judith' to the more complex and introspective sound of '3 Libras' and 'Renhölder' or the driving industrial on 'Thinking of You'.

The lyrical content will be fairly familiar to fans of Tool - religious imagery, both Christian and Pagan, clashes with sexual themes and self-doubt. However, there is a far more uplifting feel to this, it's a lot more upbeat than the depressed and angry themes common to Tool. If you never buy another popular album, buy this and get to love it before the hoards of inferior copycats appear on the scene and ruin it. I don't think it is overstating the point to say that this could have the same impact on the contemporary music scene as "Nevermind" did on the nineties, both in terms of freshness and the inevitable influence it will have.

by Donnacha DeLong

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