APC have been both blessed and cursed by comparisons with lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s other band, the excellent Tool. However, these comparisons aren’t exactly justified. Perfect Circle is Perfect Circle and Tool is Tool. Both bands are unique, and their only real connection musically is through Maynard’s vocals, which here sound far more vulnerable and emotional than his usual style.The first thing that must be said about this album is that the performances given by all five members are all absolutely awe inspiring. Billy Howerdel’s song writing ablility is second to none; Maynard James Keenan’s vocals are better than ever before; Josh Freese is simply one of the best drummers on earth; Paz Lenchantin’s bass playing is excellent, and her violin arrangements are simply perfect; and Troy Van Leeuwen’s excellent guitar work is equally noteworthy.Mer De Noms opens with the superb ‘Hollow’, one of the more upbeat songs on the album. Like many of the songs on here it has a wonderful chorus that you just can’t get out of your head, with Maynards’ vocals soaring while the music simply builds in intensity until the end.Following ‘Hollow’ is the atmospheric ‘Magdalena’, one of my personal favourites and an exercise in controlled power. The atmosphere on this song is so thick you can almost taste it. There are some great guitar-noise breaks here before the song again builds up until it reaches an awesome intensity.. but without any kind of screaming or earache inducing yells.’Rose’ is up next, with its off-kilter melodies and strange bass/keyboard parts complimenting one-another perfectly. Some nice guitar solos without being over the top. (More pink-floydy than most rock/metal solos).By now everyone will have heard ‘Judith’, the heaviest track on the album, expressing Maynards’ rage at Christianity and Religion in general, with a great main riff and some superb ‘bottle-neck’ slide guitar.’Orestes’ is one of the more mellow tracks, with some excellent vocal harmonies and a wonderfully memorable guitar melody. Again this track (like much of the album) is intense without resorting to screams or heavy, pounding riffs.’3 Libras’ is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are superb, complimenting the music perfectly, and the vocal work is astounding, particularly the end of the song which sees Maynard really opening up. The music in this song has an almost trance inducing effect, so well is it played.’Sleeping Beauty’ is one of the more heavy tracks, again intense and concentrated, simply due to the tightness with which it’s played.’Thomas’ begins with a little melody played out on what sounds like an acoustic before the band kicks in with a riff that sounds like the world is ending. Brilliant.’Renholder’ is a strange interlude, consiting of another off-kilter guitar melody, with Paz Lenchantin’s violin arrangements flitting around and complimenting it, along with Maynards’ unearthly moans and sighs.’Thinking Of You’ has simply the best rock bassline I’ve heard since Ozzy’s ‘Perry Mason’ from the ‘Ozzmosis’ album. I just can’t get it out of my head!’Brena’ is almost ethereal in it’s presentation. The vocals are again unearthly, and the music is absolutely superb, full of passion, and wonderfully emotive.The album finishes with the NIN ‘Fragile’ soundalike ‘Over’. Simply piano, a small amount of percussion and vocals. An odd, yet satisfying way to finish the album.This really is a special album, one of those where you find yourself wanting to keep to yourself and treasure, and yet simultaneously shout its’ praises from every rooftop until everyone knows just how great it is. There’s something here for everyone, and everything here for someone. If you like your music passionate and intense, you won’t be dissapointed.