Ok I’ve read the reviews that have been posted so far on this page, and a mixed bunch they all are I must say. Not that that’s a bad thing, if anything I think this album was always gonna get mixed receptions on its release.
One thing I think we all have to realise is that there are always going to be two types of person who listen to APC, and indeed any band in this particular vein (or is that artery?). There are people who listen to APC for the straight-from the balls basslines, the ever-increasingly haunting ambience from mr’s howerdel and iha and breathtaking drumming that really needs no description from an inept welk such as myself. Oh, and for maynard of course. I’m talking about the fans who are there for the music and the typically intoxicating aural epxerience of listening to the band. THEN there’s another group who enjoy this aspect of the band also, though perhaps go a little further than just whether it’s got a drumbeat you can go mental to or a screaming banshee of a guitar setup in songs like judith and pet. This group tends to listen a little more deeply and certainly takes account of the lyrics at least as much as the music itself. I mean, when the writing’s this good, why ignore it? I’m certainly a member of this latter group.
In writing this I’m not trying to say one type of fan is better than the other; after all there’s f*** all wrong with surging along with the electricity created by a thousand APC fans in a dark, atmospheric venue in the heart of paris, with APC right in front of you, trust me on that one. But when it comes to an album like eMOTIVe, which, by very nature of containing protest songs, is going to be conveying a message to the listener, you really can’t afford to write off the songs on the basis of the musicality not being up to the heaviness of mer de noms or 13th step. I think I read one reviewer here who wrote that he never listens to lyrics or messages in songs, and that a beat and catchy guitar line is all that matters to him. In that case, why aren’t you listening to Busted? I’m not trying to be obtuse, but if what you say is true then you’re really missing half of what APC is all about. Surely you can’t be sitting there and telling me that after a fair few listens, you think this album is a let down? Not with a straight face anyway…
First of all, anyone who’s a fan of tool (and I’m guessing a vast majority of you are) knows the depth and ethereal quality of keenan’s vocal range. I can’t therefore believe that anyone who claims to really listen to APC and tool could fail to be touched by the multi-dimensional sound created on ‘fiddle and the drum’, considering that’s just maynard’s voice laid over itself. And as for there being a lack of time shifts and impressive stickfiddlery from freese, just listen to ‘let’s have a war’; the guy practically makes the kit sound like bursts of gunfire going off around the guitars. “Drum whoring” pays off with this guy it would seem. Ok there are some songs that have come off not as well as others, and to be honest I still find ‘people are people’ a little awkward to listen to, but then maybe that says more about me as a listener than APC as a band. As far as I can see, not only has APC exceeded success in conveying to a modern audience the messages created by songs written when my mum was a wee lass, but they’ve also interwoven it all into an incredibly atmospheric, darkly colourful soundscape that makes me wish i had dolby 5.1 in my humble university room. ‘When the levee breaks’ is a perfect example of this, and it’s yet another shift from any sort of sound you’ve heard on Mer de Noms or 13th step. I like the fact billy howerdel steps up to the mic on a few songs too; it’s not like keenan’s the only voice you want to hear.
In short, if you’re not prepared to lie back, turn the lights out and let this disc spin a fair few times before making a final decision, then i don’t think you’re gonna absorb the real substance that is just oozing from this album. Like the previous two, it really does demand your full attention. But hey, you guys listen to tool so you don’t need me to tell you that.
As for this being the final full-length from APC before they split, I haven’t heard that, but with keenan off on tour with tool from early next year no doubt, it may be a while before we hear anything more from them. Hell, even if it is the end, this is a stellar album to go out on, and like someone said before, this is hardly easy listening for the conscience, but what perfect circle album is? These guys have constantly been evolving their sound as well as their ideas within art rock/metal, and with this as their latest message, they’ve not failed to live up to their reputation as one of the most important and original groups of their time.
You’ve got two chances – you’ll either love and embrace it or you won’t.