A Perfect Circle

As front man of alternative metal favourites Tool, Maynard James Keenan helped inject the US underground rock scene with slabs of heavy, gothic thunder and big, twisted, angst-purging anthems in the 1990s and 2000s, winning three Grammy Awards in the process. After an impressive run, however, by the 1990s they were struggling with legal issues and burn out and, while the band went on hiatus, Keenan began working with his friend Billy Howedel, who was a guitar technician for acts including Fishbone, Guns N' Roses and Faith No More, and started making his own demos. With guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, drummer Josh Freese and bassist Paz Lenchantin completing the line-up, their debut album 'Mer de Noms' in 2000 was a raging mix of prog-rock ambition, grizzly, metal bombast and epic, lung-shredding emotion, selling more than 1.8 million copies. They went on to support Faith No More on tour and release popular singles 'The Hollow' and 'Weak and Powerless', before returning with concept album 'Thirteenth Step' in 2003, which was themed around the physical and psychological impacts of addiction, and reached number two in the US Album Charts. With Keenan becoming increasingly politicised, the band sought to make a statement by covering a set of protest songs on third album 'Emotive'. Including radical, alt-rock interpretations of tracks such as 'What's Going On?' by Marvin Gaye, 'Imagine' by John Lennon and 'Fiddle and the Drum' by Joni Mitchell, they released the album on the day of the 2004 US Presidential Election and it shot to number two in the charts, but Bush was re-elected and the band went into hiatus. They re-grouped in 2010 and gradually settled on a new line-up, including former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, drummer Jeff Friedl and bass player Matt McJunkins, but it wasn't until 2018 that they eventually released a new album 'Eat the Elephant'. Featuring the band's trademark atmospheric build ups, dramatic loud-quiet sonic shifts and Keenan's theatrical, emotional delivery, the record also included more delicate piano moments and electronic experiments and confronted issues such as gun violence, wealth inequality, suicide and religion.

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