Home Read Classic Album Review: A Perfect Circle | Thirteenth Step

Classic Album Review: A Perfect Circle | Thirteenth Step

Maynard Keenan's supergroup hit their stride with their visceral sophomore album.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


How can you tell the difference between a side project and a supergroup? Easy — just compare A Perfect Circle’s 2000 debut Mer de Noms with their new followup Thirteenth Step.

That introductory disc found iconoclastic Tool frontman Maynard Keenan teaming up with band guitar tech Billy Howerdel, Vandals drummer Josh Freese and a few other indie-rockers to create a sound that fused goth, industrial, prog, exotica and sludgy, bludgeoning metal. And it was good. But not as good as Thirteenth Step, which finds Howerdel, Keenan and Freese welcoming former Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie (Twiggy Ramirez) White into the circle — and recruiting ex-Smashing Pumpkins axeman James Iha as a live sidekick. More importantly, this powerful and textured 50-minute album finds the group hitting their musical stride and coming into their own, striking a near-perfect balance between their various influences and crafting doom-laden, visceral tunes that feel more like live performances than Mer de Noms’ studio constructs.