Vera : A Perfect Circle and Tool with the enigmatic front man Maynard James Keenan as greatest common divisor. In the nineties and around the turn of the centuries, they made us attend mainstream festivals, just to get a glimpse of their veiled beauty. I saw Tool At Pukkelpop and A Perfect Circle at Werchter if my memory serves me well. The fan in me was happy and I took their self-chosen seclusion for granted, with world-wide speculations as result.
In 2018 the door is opened ajar: rumours reach us that Tool is finally working on a new album and suddenly the new A Perfect Circle album happens to be scheduled for an April, 20th release. That’s fourteen years after ‘eMOTIVe’! Maynard and guitarist/pianist Billy Howerdel have left their anonymous holes of their protected life. After the release of their compilation ’Three Sixty’ (2013), they started touring the US and now they come up with the result of working with producer Dave Sardy (Slayer, Oasis). The fourth studio album of this exclusive band is entitled ‘Eat The Elephant’ and includes twelve songs. Guitarist James Iha, bassist Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl are part of the current line-up in addition to the eccentric duo.
And the masters of eclectic soundscapes are back, that’s obvious from the very outset! Piano and cymbals open the title track which soon gains any drama until the smoothening voice of Maynard joins in. Remarkable heartfelt timbre he has. The song even reminds me of Sólstafir for a moment, with modest dignity and self-conscious prowess. The rock with momentum of ‘Disillusioned’ initially has a kind of pop-like lightness with its storytelling chants, but the razor-sharp guitars in the vein of The Edge (U2) tear this dream to pieces. By the way, I often think of U2 due to the floating guitar sounds. Times of old and friendships are contemplated with velvet voice, quiescent piano notes pass into fluttering guitar skills, soaring yet sharp. A Perfect Circle balances high in the sky on the clouds with spatial sounds in ‘The Contrarian’ in which I think there are some references to Kurt Cobain. A magnificent song happens to be ‘The Doomed’. Firstly it cuts loose with hectic vocals and hooky guitar riffs, but soon it will simply haunt you with its delicious chorus. With this album we are remembered of the fact that music in the nineties could be pretty heavy as well – for those who did not know that, just have a listen to The God Machine – and enjoy the wild guitars in ‘So Long And Thanks For All The Fish’. Next the peaceful ‘Talk Talk’ turns into an intense oasis of contemplation (yet those heavy riffs for a minute). ‘By And Down The River’ moves you with piano and strings, reminds me of Sólstafir again, then it continues in a monotonous drone. Psychedelic influences are all over in the guitar sound, but with the theatrical, noisy ‘Hourglass’ and the weird industrial tinged ‘Get The Lead Out’, they prove that A Perfect Circle did not shun any experiments. We better like their fluttering and mind-blowing sound as in ‘Feathers’, but well, those different songs are special. This is an album you can only categorize in one style: A Perfect Circle. That says enough. It leaves us with an respectful feeling of awe.