In promoting "Mer De Noms," A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan has stressed that his new band is more than just a Tool side project. Maynard has certainly gone to great lengths to give each band their own unique identity -- the bald frontman now wears a Tori Amos-like wig during shows and (gasp!) appears in the band's videos. But there are two major differences between Tool and A Perfect Circle, though both seek to overwhelm and inspire the listener. Circle guitarist Billy Howerdel brings a sensual touch to his band's music, still throwing down dynamic riffs.
And while Maynard's excellent voice instantly marks any project, he's radically changed his subject matter for Mer De Noms. Instead of genetics and California sinking into the ocean, he writes about hardships of human emotion, such as on the breath-taking "Magdalena."
The overall effect is mixed. While undoubtedly the heavy-rock debut of the year, it just makes this fan want a new Tool album that much more.