A Perfect Circle – 360 Album Review
This metal super group kind of disappeared for almost a decade, and we weren’t sure when, or if we’d see them re-surface. Three Sixty is basically a Greatest Hits album which is often the death knell for a rock band, but on this one, there’s definite cause for optimism.
Late in 2013, one of our generation’s preeminent hard rock acts offered up a powerful greatest hits collection that also included the band’s first new release in ten years. A Perfect Circle is the renowned hard rock super group begat through the long-term friendship of Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide). The duo met when Howerdel was the guitar tech for Tool, and their friendship and creative allegiance quickly took off, spotlighted by Howerdel’s fantastically creative guitar work.
The band’s first two albums debuted on Billboard’s Top 5 and sold millions of copies, leading the band on numerous hugely successful tours that cemented their spot among rock music’s elite. On Three Sixty, the band offers up the best of these cuts on a nice chronological journey.
The album kicks off with the fantastic guitar-driven masterpiece “The Hollow” which also kicked off their debut album Mer de Noms. The song, featuring masterful layered guitars from Howerdel, is a nice harbinger of things to come. We also get a chance to hear two other powerful hits from their debut, “3 Libras” and “Judith.”
The second release, Thirteenth Step, still focused on hard rock, but this time with a bit more melody. Highlight tracks form the second album include “The Outsider,” “Blue” and “Weak And Powerless.” The latter, being the band’s biggest hit, and a tune that reached number one on the rock music charts.
I always suspected that the creative juices began to wane, when they offered up their third album, eMOTIVe, as a selection of covers; and in all honesty probably never gave the album a fair shake. Listening to the eMOTIVe tracks offered on Three Sixty, we get to see absolute musical genius in the creative re-imagining of these classic tracks. This really was much more than a quick cover album, and we get to hear the best of these creations on Three Sixty. Their dynamic cover of Led Zeppelin’s bluesy “When The Levee Breaks,” and their creative turn at the iconic Lennon masterpiece, “Imagine,” are the highlight tracks from album three on Three Sixty.
To top off the album, we get to sample the band’s first new music in ten years. “By and Down” is probably familiar to hardcore fans of the band, as it has been floating around in various forms for a few years, but the recently revised version truly captures the essence of the song. It’s an excellent offering, introduced with soaring keys, which make way for signature Howerdel guitar work and screeching vocals from Keenan. The song builds to a powerful finish and is already making waves on hard rock radio. Good stuff, and cause for optimism for fans of the band.
“By and Down” is a great way to wrap up the chronology of the band. I suspect this will indeed be the final chapter for these talented friends, but if it is, it’s one hell of a way to close out their recording career.
Grab the album below, and if you already have all of the original songs, you can grab the new single here: By and Down – Three Sixty (Deluxe Edition)