Mer de Noms

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Mer de Noms
Studio album by A Perfect Circle
Released May 23, 2000
Length 44:25
Label Virgin
Producer Billy Howerdel
A Perfect Circle chronology
Mer De Noms
Thirteenth Step
(2003)Thirteenth Step2003
Singles from Mer de Noms
  1. "Judith"
    Released: August 8, 2000
  2. "The Hollow"
    Released: October 17, 2000
  3. "3 Libras"
    Released: February 13, 2001

Mer de Noms (French for "sea of names") is the debut album by American rock band A Perfect Circle. The album was released under Compact Disc format on May 23, 2000. It was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 31, 2000. The album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4, making it the highest ever Billboard 200 debut for a rock band's first album.[5] It sold over 188,000 copies in the first week, and stayed on the charts for 51 consecutive weeks.[6] The album peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums on October 4, 2003, three years after the album's release. Mer de Noms has since been released on vinyl record format.

Music and lyrics[edit]

Musically, the album features a sound that "returns the listeners to the daze of prog rock"[3] and "blurs between alternative rock and hard rock, with many slower tunes exhibiting an intense smolder rather than flash burn."[2] The New Yorker magazine also noted that the band experiments with "the seam between heavy metal and alternative rock" on the record.[7] Various instruments featured on the album include acoustic guitars, violins and xylophones.[8][9]

Most of the album's lyrics were dedicated to various people that lead singer Maynard James Keenan knew. The track listing consists of various names such as "Judith", "Breña", "Rose", "Thomas", "Magdalena", "Orestes", and "Renholdër" (for musician Danny Lohner).

The symbols on the front cover of the album can be translated to "La Cascade des Prénoms," which translated to English means "the waterfall of first names".

Howerdel had been working on some of the music, including tracks "The Hollow" and "Breña", as far back as 1988.[10] The song "Renholdër" is a reference to guitarist and sound engineer Danny Lohner and reads "Re:D.Lohner" backwards. Lohner did not know the song was about him despite his first name being sung—albeit in a distorted fashion—in the song.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly A−[13]
Melody Maker 4/5 stars[14]
NME (7/10)[8]
Q 4/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[3]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[9]
Rock Hard (de) 8.5/10[15]

Allmusic critic Ned Raggett praised the album's instrumentation, eventually concluding: "Alan Moulder adds in some fine help on mixing, polishing the glowering sheen of Mer de Noms to a hard, sharp edge."[12] Entertainment Weekly critic Marc Weingarten wrote: "A Perfect Circle, co-helmed by guitarist Billy Howerdel, is less ominous, with the album Mer de Noms leavening guitar shrapnel with genuinely pretty melodies and frilly production flourishes – kinda like neo-Metallica, but with cojones."[13] Melody Maker commented: "This is Killing Joke and Jane's Addiction; this is Soundgarden and Alice In Chains; Keenan's gorgeously intimate voice is shoved up front throughout and it's his throat's suckable folds that draw you deeper in."[14] NME wrote: "In exploring their corrupt visions, A Perfect Circle have created a work of morbid beauty. In terms of darkness, it eclipses nearly everything else."[8] Rolling Stone's Pat Blashill stated: "A Perfect Circle sound like a desperate dream of what rock used to be."[3] Tyler Fisher of Sputnikmusic was positive in his assessment of the album, writing: "Among these brilliant songs, the album has much more to offer, most songs being extremely melodic and beautiful, a sound A Perfect Circle embraces on Thirteenth Step and takes to another level."[9] Stuart Green of Exclaim! described the album as "a fairly straight ahead rock record, at least by Tool standards," further adding: "And with the addition of violin, courtesy of bassist Paz Lenchantin, flute and other prog-rock trappings, the record takes on a much more dynamic edge while retaining its ball-breaking heaviness."[4]

In 2005, Mer de Noms was ranked number 443 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[16] The album was also included as number 15 in Loudwire's "Best Debut Hard Rock Albums."[17] In 2016, Metal Hammer included it on their "10 essential alt-metal albums" list.[1]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan.

No. Title Length
1. "The Hollow" 2:58
2. "Magdalena" 4:06
3. "Rose" 3:26
4. "Judith" 4:07
5. "Orestes" 4:48
6. "3 Libras" 3:39
7. "Sleeping Beauty" 4:10
8. "Thomas" 3:29
9. "Renholdër" 2:24
10. "Thinking of You" 4:34
11. "Breña" 4:24
12. "Over" 2:21
Japanese Edition
No. Title Length
13. "Orestes (Demo)" (Bonus Track) 3:24


  • The vinyl version contains "Sleeping Beauty" with extended intro (04:57) and alternate mix of "Over" (03:07).


Adapted from AllMusic credits.[18]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Tim Alexander - drums on "The Hollow"
  • Luciano Lenchantin - viola on "3 Libras"
  • Draven Godwin - percussion on "'Thomas"
  • Kelli Shafer - vocals on "Renholdër"



Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
2000 Billboard 200 4
Top Canadian Albums 5
Top Internet Albums 5


Year Single Chart Position
2000 "Judith" Mainstream Rock Tracks 4
Modern Rock Tracks 5
"3 Libras" Mainstream Rock Tracks 12
Modern Rock Tracks 12
2001 "The Hollow" Mainstream Rock Tracks 14
Modern Rock Tracks 17


  1. ^ a b "The 10 essential alt-metal albums". 14 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Tool Leader Keenan Forms A Perfect Circle; Brian Wilson Plans Tour With Orchestras". Billboard. March 12, 2000. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Rolling Stone : A Perfect Circle: Mer De Noms : Music Reviews". 8 February 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Green, Stuart (May 1, 2000). "A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms". Exclaim!. Retrieved July 29, 2015. 
  5. ^ "A Perfect Circle Storms Onto Chart with Highest Debuting First Album Ever From a Rock Band". NY Rock. June 2, 2000. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "A Perfect Circle: Mer de Noms review". The New Yorker. 76 (22-28). 2000. 
  8. ^ a b c "Mer De Noms - NME". Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c "A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms (album review 9) - Sputnikmusic". Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Corp, Hal (2002). Guitar World Presents Nu-Metal. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. pp. 91–94. ISBN 0-634-03287-9. 
  11. ^ "Renholder: the Danny Lohner interview". Movement Magazine. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  12. ^ a b Allmusic review
  13. ^ a b "Mer De Noms -". Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c " Mer De Noms (EXPLICIT) (CD) by A Perfect Circle ...". 17 June 2008. Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  15. ^ Rensen, Michael. "Rock Hard". issue 157. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  16. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 32. ISBN 3-89880-517-4. 
  17. ^ Childers, Chad. "No. 15: A Perfect Circle, ‘Mer de Noms’ – Best Debut Hard Rock Albums". Loudwire. Retrieved July 29, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Mer de Noms - A Perfect Circle - Credits - AllMusic". Retrieved 15 December 2016. 

External links[edit]