- Released: September 15, 2003
- Label: Virgin Records Us
Rolling Stone - 10/2/03, p.1163 stars out of 5
- "...The band's second album, THIRTEENTH STEP, sounds more like the dusky thrum of DISINTEGRATION-era Cure than it does any of the members' previous bands..."
Entertainment Weekly - 9/19/03, pp.86-7
"...Frontman James Maynard Keenan sounds as elliptically tortured as ever....his band's winding, off-kilter rhythms and contrapunctal guitar riffs create an omnious atmosphere..." - Rating: B
Q - 11/03, p.1053 stars out of 5
- "...Keenan's voice is naked and clean....[The songs] affirm that Keenan is more than capable of writing bewitchingly unique songs..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 11/03, p.1313 stars out of 5
- "...The frisson of anxiety crackles, brought to nervous pitch by fretful trash-can drumming, pomp rock guitar and disquieting and pervasive bass..."
- 1.The Package
- 2.Weak and Powerless
- 3.The Noose
- 6.A Stranger
- 7.The Outsider
- 9.The Nurse Who Loved Me
A Perfect Circle: Maynard James Keenan (vocals, gourd); Billy Howerdel (guitar, piano, bass, programming, background vocals); Troy Van Leeuwen (guitar); Jeordie White (bass); Josh Freese (drums, percussion).
Personnel: Billy Howerdel (vocals, guitar); Jarboe, Maynard James Keenan (vocals); Danny Lohner, Troy Van Leeuwen (guitar); Josh Freese (drums, background vocals); Devo Keenan, Jeordie White (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Andy Wallace.
Photographers: Dean Karr; Billy Howerdel.
With its sophomore effort, THIRTEENTH STEP, A Perfect Circle permanently sheds any clinging notions of being a Tool side-project. Although Maynard James Keenan's plaintive vocals immediately conjure up thoughts of his other outfit, APC distinguishes itself by furthering the melodic elements present on the group's first outing, MER DE NOMS. "The Package" starts things off slowly, with a foreboding guitar line and minimal drum cadence that gradually build into a full-blown Sabbath-like dirge. Carried along by the fluid bass playing of Jeordie White (formerly known as Twiggy Ramirez of Marilyn Manson), "The Noose" gives a tip of the hat to the Cure's gloomiest work, while White and guitarist Billy Howerdel create an entrancingly chiming bass/guitar tapestry on "Blue."
Though many of the album's tracks surge with APC's powerful metal riffs, the folky "A Stranger" and the lush "The Nurse Who Loved Me" both feature Keenan's voice supported by a gorgeous bed of strings and little else. A cycle that touches on themes of corruption, despair, and redemption, THIRTEENTH STEP is brought to a fitting conclusion by "Gravity," a powerful song that captures both the dark and light aspects of this fascinating band.