A Perfect Circle’s latest release, eMOTIVe, is a little more than ambitious. The first music video from the album, a rousing cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” depicts Disneylike puppets of different cultures singing in unison, as well as censored footage from the war in Iraq and a stock ticker with fake sports scores. To many people, this could be complete nonsense, but to Maynard James Keenan, the band’s enigmatic frontman, nonsense and modern culture are one and the same. This permeates eMOTIVe, a collection of political covers and remixes that hearkens back to 1960s idealism – while still keeping the bite of modern rock.

This could have been a really, really bad idea. Only masters of their craft would attempt to cover “When the Levee Breaks,” by Led Zeppelin, and then transform it into an eerie piano-laden ballad. But it works, on the sheer fact that it still sounds like A Perfect Circle. Like their last album, Thirteenth Step, the band members work toward mood metal, mixing power and pomposity with Cure-like emotional landscapes. Devo’s “Freedom of Choice” and Black Flag’s “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” are equal parts magic and menace, with the supergroup members of the band (Jeordie White from Marilyn Manson, Josh Freese from the Vandals, etc.) providing their ample talents.

It’s quite humorous to hear a provocative masculine singer like Keenan cover Joni Mitchell’s “Fiddle and the Drum.” Her elegant lyrics are remade into a churchlike hymn, with layers of vocals resembling Gregorian chants. Certain tracks, like Fear’s “Let’s Have a War” are somewhat strange, losing the heavy metal power that beefs up the group’s sound. As a whole, though, the album is extremely inspiring, and, considering that it was rushed to release for Election Day, it’s an incredible achievement. Heavy rock bands don’t release socially conscious records often, especially considering the modern political atmosphere. So, maybe Maynard and his cohorts will pave the way. A five-star salute to A Perfect Circle for their latest work.
[Hey, Matt Cappiello, let us know how that hot date goes.]