Great review of 360, the new A Perfect Circle compilation from A Metal State Of Mind. ChristopherMammal is the newest addition to their growing roster of reviewers, and I love his writing. This site is constantly raising its own game with its expanding pool of writers, helping to remain an essential go-to site for the latest in metal, hard rock and prog news.
Fans of Tool and Maynard Keenan are a notoriously-devoted lot, so the release of a new APC song – de rigueur on any decent ‘best of’ – is sure to have them salivating. Best of all, it’s a great song and not a tacked-on b-side or demo-quality throwaway track.
Keenan evinces a quality shared by many of rock’s most iconic frontmen, from Elvis to (Jon) Anderson to Rotten to Morrissey and on, in that his voice is utterly distinctive from the first note. It’s to his and the other writers’ credit, then, that APC avoid sounding like Tool clones whilst managing to grab a sizable portion of that band’s alt/prog rock audience.
As ChristopherMammal says By And Down ‘…should greatly satisfy followers of APC...’ as well as temporarily assuaging Tool fans hungry for new material during that band’s extended hiatus. It’s a great track, and a timely reminder of just what a powerful and nuanced performer Maynard J is.
Saying that… I gotta take issue with the ‘sublime prog metal’ tag. Well, not the sublime bit; but ‘prog metal’? For me, the refreshing thing about APC – as with Puscifer – was the way it showcased Keenan‘s unmistakable vocal in a soundworld that was – and is – decidedly more accessible, closer to conventional pop/rock structure, and none the worse for it. In Tool, his voice is frequently as much an instrument in its own right; a haunting addition to the sonic palette as it is a conveyor of feeling and idea. In APC he’s all about the words. To me the band is very much what would have been considered alternative rock, before the crossover successes of bands including Nirvana, Oasis, REM and Metallica back in the ’90s made the term somewhat anachronistic. The line-up of nominees for the recent Mercury Award ceremony in the UK amply demonstrates just how far we’ve travelled down the road in blurring any distinction between ‘mainstream’ and ‘indie’/’alternative’/’underground’ these days.
I don’t hear much prog OR metal in By And Down: what I DO hear is a pair of true artists who have honed their songwriting craft and taken it to the next level. I hear a mature, poignant, perfectly-paced rock ballad that matches, even surpasses the quality of their previous output. Sure, like CM I’d like to hear more, an album’s worth, even. But maybe that’s not possible… With both Tool and APC, Keenan and co. have maintained the quality precisely by pandering to their muses and keeping up the mystique; rather than joining to rock’n’roll gravy train and churning out sub-par albums every 18 months.
Enjoy the song for what it is, and don’t hold your breath for the next Tool record either. That looks like being some time off too.
Reviews: Three Sixty (Standard Edition), 13 tracks; Three Sixty (Deluxe Edition), 2 CDs, 19 tracks; Release date: November 19, 2013; Label: Universal Music Enterprises (Ume).
Preview: A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone And Echo, Concert DVD and audio + three live CDs; Release date: November 26, 2013; Label: Universal Music Enterprises (Ume).
A Perfect Circle presents us with a quandary. By releasing two editions of the “best of” collection as well as a full multimedia pack within the space of one week, they make it difficult to decide which of the three to choose. The answer to that question may depend on how much Perfect Circle you already have.
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