A Perfect Circle : Dallas Bronco Bowl

Frankly, they've got it all. And, on this evidence, enormodomes are just the beginning.

You join NME in the middle of a horde of corndog-wielding adolescents bellowing, "Fuck your God" over and over again. It's the refrain from A Perfect Circle's 'Judith' single, and it's one of the reasons why they're currently the biggest new rock band in the States. It's also why they're the most resonant retort to the crude simplicity of the sports metal brigade since The Smashing Pumpkins hung up their set squares. Quite simply, A Perfect Circle - a band who embody the dark pantomime of nu-metal - are ace.

In less cynical times, we'd have called them a supergroup and treated them with the contempt that dread term deserves. Their risumi reads like a Who's Who of the post-Kurt, industrial firmament, which is probably why the doors of America's enormodomes have swung open for them so easily.

For starters, there's shiny-scalped guitarist/composer Billy Howerdel. He might peer coyly from the shadows, but the black-clad baldster has worked as an arranger with everyone from the Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails to David Bowie. Purple-haired drummer Jack Freese, meanwhile, jacked in his nine-to-five with Guns N'Roses in order to wield sticks for the fledgling fivesome.

Even the Circle's blink-and-you'll-miss-'em engine room - flop-fringed guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and pouting bassist/violinist Paz Lenchantin have served time in a multitude of So-Cal punk set-ups. But it's tiny frontchap Maynard James Keenan - moonlighting from his day job with longstanding hardcore heroes Tool - who attracts the most attention. Scuttling around the stage and shaking his arse-length platinum wig, he's the missing link between Iggy Pop's indomitable exhibitionist and Eddie Vedder's hand-wringing introvert; an enigma wrapped in a post-punk riddle.

Though the concept of A Perfect Circle - from their privileged pasts to their clever-clever moniker - may rattle the odd cage, it's difficult to deny their power. While other bands remain gridlocked by metal's suffocating need to remain true to The Cause (Limp Bizkit's perpetual doofus act, RATM's utter lack of humour) the Circle are not afraid to spread their aesthetic wings and look elsewhere for inspiration. It's an esoteric proposition for sure, but one which throws up a multitude of intriguing rewards.

The mountainous expanse of guitars that swoop through the likes of 'Thinking Of You' and 'Magdalena' for example, are as much concerned with atmosphere as they are with heavy metal bombast. 'Hollow', meanwhile, is closer in body and spirit to the keening melodicism of such '80s deities as Echo And The Bunnymen and The Cure - its dark/light dynamics offset by Maynard's supernaturally sweet voice. Even when the goth-like '3 Libras' coughs up a tissue full of cobweb-clad clichis ("fallen angel with the eyes of a tragedy"), it's their deftness of touch that rescues them; an ability to trample through the most obvious of ideas while maintaining a rare grace and intelligence.

Frankly, they've got it all. And, on this evidence, enormodomes are just the beginning.

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