Sound — 8
First of all, before I describe the sound of the album, I will give you detailed instructions on HOW to listen to an album by this unbelievable band. After buying, simply go into your room, turn all the lights down, and start at track one. When done properly, one will not only LISTEN to the album, one will FEEL the album, just as I did. Now, with that out of the way... For many purposes, I will refrain from objectively comparing "Thirteenth Step" with "Mer de Noms". If you want that kind of review, read the previous one. The overall sound of "Thirteenth Step" is nothing short of amazing. We who are fans of APC have come to expect a certain level of musicianship and inventiveness from them. I promise you will not be let down in this respect. Their musical genius is profoundly dispayed, not just as metal artists or "rock" artists, but as artists of a more meaningful and broad definition. That said, you might be discouraged if you were simply a fan of their heaviness. While there is more if it than, I believe, the previous article gives it credit, it is much more a brand of "subtle heaviness". There are stand-out heavy tracks (namely The Package, The Outsider, and Pet) which are unbelievable, but their are also songs to which heaviness is applied without drenching it in distortion. These are the true innovations to the previous APC album. Tracks like "The Noose" and "Weak and Powerless" are excellent examples of this, as well as the dark, brooding melancholia that typifies this band's sound. Individually, the guitars are often clean or acoustic, but there is hardly a song without a touch of distortion. As stated earlier, however, the heaviness is intrinsic to the actual song. The inventiveness of Billy Howerdel is, again, remarkable. Also, it is to be noted, James Iha (their new guitarist replacing Troy van Leeuwen) does not share in the writing credits. Also, If you are a Marilyn Manson fan, there are occasions where you can definately hear Twiggy (Jeordie White) put his mark in the music. It is apparent that he has let this band expand his musicianship indefinately. Josh Freese, once again, is amazing on drums. There are a few tracks, however, that lack the power of the others stated. They seem to be "stuck" into the album, added more as filler and the integrity of the majority may be lost somewhat. While they are not without their interesting points and are "good songs" by anothier band's standards, they could have been made better by this one.
Lyrics — 10
The previous account gives an excellent description of the lyrics. Maynard is an amazing lyricist as well as a vocalist and I won't say much more than that, so as not to take away from the other review. There is one point that I must disagree with slightly. I believe that Maynard has the occasion to show his range and get agressive. Especially on tracks like "The Package" and "The Outsider", it is evident that he is still one of (if not the best) agressive singers in history. I do agree, however, that the album could have done with a little more.
Overall Impression — 10
Here I am being prompted to compare albums so, reluctantly, I will. Compared to "Mer de Noms", "Thirteenth Step" is a slight degression overall. In its defense, though, "Mer de Noms" is one of the best alternative albums of all time and would be hard to duplicate by any band. On its own, however, I will say that "Thirteenth Step" is one of the best albums of the year for its respective genre. Again, one will not begin to define the impact of this band for many years to come. I love nearly everything about the album, especially its creativity and disregard for mainstream or current songwriting patterns (both staples of APC). I dislike the "filler" songs and the subtle monotony that they bring into the soundscape. This album, like "Mer de Noms", is definately worth buying as quickly as you can spare the $20; if for no other reason than to admire the craftmanship of the stand-out tracks on this album and genius of these five musicians.