Sound — 8
Their sound has definitely changed; I wouldn't say it has evolved, but take note that APC has undergone significant lineup changes since Mer De Noms, so the overall feel is slightly different. It seems that the composition is less orchestral in nature this time around, but this doesn't hurt the sound at all. The music is still as mellow as ever, so fans of the first album shouldn't have too hard of a time enjoying this.
Lyrics — 10
Maynard James Keenan, possibly one of the most talented vocalists alive, gives us plenty of reason to think so on this album. He sings with so much emotion on the cover of Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me" that he really makes the song his own, as it's easily the most intriguing song on the album. The lyrics are as deep and introspective as ever, while somewhat more intimate than his offerings on Mer De Noms and any of Tool's releases. When he speaks of his inner demons, you take this guy seriously; he isn't Linkin Park making choruses out of groan-inducing cliche. Given the solemn tone of this album, Keenan leaves us with no doubts of his ability as both a songwriter and a vocalist.
Overall Impression — 8
This album is very well done. My only complaint is the lack of evolution in the sound. While it has changed, it is still the same APC we experienced three years ago. There isn't a bad track on this album, but while some tracks are mindblowing, others are just good. With the amount of talent in this band, settling for "just good" is not acceptable. If you are a fan of APC or Tool, there's really no reason not to buy this album. For those that aren't fans already Thirteenth Step is somewhat forgettable. It's a great album, but it is not a classic.