A Perfect Circle

While enduring A Perfect Circle's plodding, morose massacre of John Lennon's "Imagine," you may find yourself imagining what it would be like to listen to something else. Don't worry, dreamer: You're not the only one.

Aside from being mostly boring, the third effort from this creepy-crawly band is "a collection of songs about war, peace, love and greed," according to vocalist Maynard James Keenan. That's true, at least until Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel sank their fangs into them. As morbidly reworked covers, these protest songs are stark, bleak and pretty -- like a newly embalmed beauty queen.

Imagine '80s punk anthems like Fear's "Let's Have a War" and Black Flag's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" regurgitated as industrial-tinged Goth-rock. Imagine Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" containing all the soul of a black hole. Imagine Depeche Mode's "People Are People" with its dance DNA contorted gruesomely and . . . aw, forget it. Actually, don't imagine any of it. These can't be considered covers. In fact, with the exception of two originals from A Perfect Circle (which should appeal to fans of Keenan's other band, Tool), every track is credited as a "re-arrangement."

So why torture a bunch of classics by brutally Nine Inch Nail-ing them to the wall? To make a political statement, man! That's why "Emotive" hits stores on Election Day! On the other hand, if Keenan really wanted to instigate change, he would rent a public-address system and aim this tedious weapon of song deconstruction at the Oval Office. Win or lose, they'd have to evacuate.

-- Michael Deeds