I try to be objective when I make a review. Until now, I only managed to express my opinions regarding mostly underground/extreme metal music. So, this is a new challenge. Although “Eat the Elephant” is one year old, is still constant in my playlist.
Being one of the most notable releases of 2018, “Eat the Elephant” represents a cornerstone for a band that carefully creates its music and art. The album is the fourth studio album by American rock band A Perfect Circle. It is their first album release in fourteen years, after 2004's ‘Emotive’. Thematically, the album covers a variety of Keenan's views on modern social, religious, and political issues. Musically, the album is the sign of the maturation of their rock sound, adding more melodic elements into songs for a more mellow sound than prior albums.
The cover art of the album, quite as well as the track names, conjure up introspection, reflection but discouragement. Just how much hope do you think you can find in “The Doomed” or “The Contrarian”? And these are not taken from a shallow doom metal act!
The album opens with the title track and a sense of self. Maynard's voice is like a melodic chanting echo in the emptiness of the background then meets some sinister electronic ambience, lifting you from your place and leave you in the midst of demolished lands.
The title of the opener, ”Eat the Elephant”, is a testimony to this sense. Then you are faced with the cold and bitter introspection, which is a meditative and rancorous continuation of the previous track. For those who seek prog, this track should satiate this thirst. It is technical and has an appealing guitar sound and the keyboard also plays a prominent role.
In the same vein with “Eat the Elephant” is “The Doomed”, the fourth song you would listen to. The same level of prog flows in this song as well, however, the drumbeat is heavier and musically, it’s even darker. Lyrically speaking, it’s a tale about the good principles and how we managed to transform them into something meaningless.
After this display of technical abilities and painting this distressing picture with words, now it’s time to have your heart torn in two by this heart-wrenching lullaby which is “The Contrarian” Slow-paced, meticulous and controlled, this atmospheric duet of guitar and piano, accompanied with deep but tender voice of Maynard, relates the story of a deceiver, questioning the foundation trust. This monologue then turns into a more dynamic track, ”So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” the song was released as the fourth single from “Eat the Elephant”, after “The Doomed”, “Disillusioned”, and “TalkTalk”. The song's music was originally written by guitarist Billy Howerdel, and intended for his solo project, “Ashes Divide”. Keenan chose to use the song because he felt that “People are going to hate me for this one, so let's do that”.
In “Disillusioned” Maynard's vocals are unlike anything I've ever heard him do. Powerful and full of meaning. Everything about this song connects on another level.
Rolling Stone described the album's sound as “a moody, sensitive portrait of a band that decided to grow up and make a record that reflects where they are now as artists rather than trying to recapture the past”,while Billboard described the album's sound as paradoxical in nature, “like both a return and a departure from APC’s 2000 debut, “Mer de Noms”, for it retains the act’s moody, introspective aesthetic but expresses it with less guitars and bombast.”
Howerdel described it as a very “dark” with very honest lyrics that have “teeth” to them. He stated some of the album's sound was inspired by the work of Depeche Mode, and the track “Hourglass” was described as being more electronic-driven than their prior music, with drum and synthesizer parts more upfront than the guitar, and featuring robotic-sounding backing vocals to Keenan. Some publications noted that the album was more mellow and piano-driven than prior albums as well. Speaking of the lyrical inspiration for “Eat The Elephant“, Keenan stated:
“The new album touches on all of those things and my opinions are not veiled. It’s about reconnecting and taking responsibility for yourself. There’s accountability with that and in yourself. What are you doing to help your family? What are you doing to look at yourself and figure out what part of the problem you are? I don’t think any of this stuff is going to be fixed. Pointing a finger at Trump isn’t going to get anything done. And yeah, he’s a buffoon. He’s not the only buffoon. Cutting the head off the snake’s not going to do shit. It’s not really a snake, is it? A Medusa. I live in Arizona. I work in my cellar. I am the winemaker, I run the forklift, I clean the press — I have friends who are better mechanics so if anything breaks I go to someone who knows it better than I do. My dad runs my greenhouse. I am the one with my wife who gathers the eggs and we walk the ducks next to the orchard every day. There’s a hands-on approach to those things, and I think that’s something we’ve lost touch with. All the bitching and posting on Facebook to think you’re going to change something, it’s not going to do anything. We need to reconnect.”