Mer de Noms

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Mer de Noms
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 23, 2000
ProducerBilly Howerdel
A Perfect Circle chronology
Mer de Noms
Thirteenth Step
Singles from Mer de Noms
  1. "Judith"
    Released: July 8, 2000
  2. "3 Libras"
    Released: February 13, 2001
  3. "The Hollow"
    Released: June 17, 2001

Mer de Noms (French for "Sea of Names"[7]) is the debut studio album by American rock band A Perfect Circle. The album was released on May 23, 2000, and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4, making it the highest ever Billboard 200 debut for a rock band's first album. It sold over 188,000 copies in the first week, and was certified platinum by the RIAA later that same year. Three singles were released in promotion of the album, "Judith", "3 Libras", and "The Hollow", all of which hit the top 20 of both the Billboard US Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts.


The band was originally conceived by Billy Howerdel, a former guitar technician for Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone and Tool.[8] Howerdel met singer Maynard James Keenan in 1992, when Tool was opening for Fishbone, and the two became friends.[9] Three years later, Keenan offered Howerdel, who was looking for lodging, a room in his North Hollywood home. This provided Howerdel the opportunity to play demos of his music for Keenan. Pleased with what he heard, Keenan remarked, "I can hear myself singing [those songs]."[10] Although he originally desired a female vocalist, Howerdel agreed that Keenan would be a good fit, and A Perfect Circle was formed a short time later.[11] The two rounded out the band's initial lineup with bassist and violinist Paz Lenchantin, former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, and Primus drummer Tim Alexander.[9][12] The band played their first show at LA's Viper Club Reception in August 1999, followed by a larger-scale, more widely publicized show at the Coachella Festival the following October.[8] While initially in talks to sign with Volcano Records[13] - Tool's record label - Keenan stated that they instead chose to go with Virgin Records, who Keenan felt better understood that Keenan meant for the band to be an equally important band to Tool, not a minor side project.[14] After the initial shows and securing a record deal, the band entered the studio to begin work on their first album.[15] Alexander was soon replaced with Josh Freese, who previously worked with Howerdel on the Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy,[16][17] with Alexander's only studio contribution being drums on the album version of the song "The Hollow".[12]

Composition and themes[edit]

Musically, the album features a sound that "returns the listeners to the daze of prog rock"[4] 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.[18] Various instruments featured on the album include acoustic guitars, violins and xylophones.[19][20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Release and promotion[edit]

A month prior to release, the band embarked on a tour with Nine Inch Nails, which ran from April until June.[23][24] The album was released on May 23, 2000,[25] and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4, making it the highest ever Billboard 200 debut for a rock band's first album.[26] It sold over 188,000 copies in the first week, and stayed on the charts for 51 consecutive weeks.[27] It was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 31, 2000. The album peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums on October 4, 2003, three years after the album's release.

After the album's release and the Nine Inch Nails tour, the band embarked on a Canadian tour, the Summersault Tour, with the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and Our Lady Peace, in early August,[24] followed by a North American headlining tour throughout the rest of the month and September.[28]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[29]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[30]
Melody Maker4/5 stars[31]
Q4/5 stars[31]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[4]
Sputnikmusic4/5 stars[20]
Rock Hard (de)8.5/10[32]

Allmusic critic Ned Raggett praised the album's instrumentation and composition, praising "the addicting combination of Keenan's aching voice and Howerdel's accomplished songs and production skills made for one of 2000's best splashes in whatever was left of 'modern rock'."[29] Entertainment Weekly critic Marc Weingarten praised the album for maintaining the artistic influence of Maynard's work with Tool without sounding quite as ominous, and that it melded well with Howerdel's "leavening guitar shrapnel with genuinely pretty melodies and frilly production flourishes".[30] 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."[31] 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."[19] Rolling Stone's Pat Blashill stated: "A Perfect Circle sound like a desperate dream of what rock used to be."[4] 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."[20] 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."[5]

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.[33] The album was also included as number 15 in Loudwire's "Best Debut Hard Rock Albums."[34] In 2016, Metal Hammer included it on their "10 essential alt-metal albums" list.[1]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan.

1."The Hollow"2:58
6."3 Libras"3:39
7."Sleeping Beauty"4:10
10."Thinking of You"4:34
Japanese Edition
13."Orestes" (Demo)3:24


  • The vinyl version contains "Sleeping Beauty" with extended intro (4:57) and alternate mix of "Over" (3:07).


Credits adapted from Mer de Noms liner notes[35]


  • Maynard James Keenan – vocals (tracks 1-12), gord (kalimba) (track 12)
  • Billy Howerdel – guitar (tracks 1-11), bass (tracks 1-6, 8, 10, and 11) background vocals (tracks 1, 4, 5, and 9-11), keyboards (track 5), piano (tracks 9 and 12)
  • Josh Freese – drums (tracks 2-11), percussion (track 9)
  • Paz Lenchantin – violin (tracks 3, 6, and 9), bass (track 7), backing vocals (tracks 4, 5, and 9)
  • Troy Van Leeuwen – lead guitar parts at end of song (tracks 7 and 10)

Additional musicians

  • Tim Alexander – drums (track 1)
  • Luciano Lenchantin – viola (track 6)
  • Draven Godwin – percussion (track 8)
  • Kelli Shafer – backing vocals (track 9)



Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
2000 Billboard 200 4[36]
Top Canadian Albums 5
Top Internet Albums 5


  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. ^
  4. ^ 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.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ a b Green, Stuart (May 1, 2000). "A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms". Exclaim!. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Tool's Maynard Prepares A Perfect Circle Debut". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "A Perfect Circle – Biography & History – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Summers, Jodi (2004). Making and Marketing Music. Allworth Communications, Inc. p. 16. ISBN 1-58115-387-2.
  11. ^ "ASHES dIVIDE official website I". Island Records. Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  12. ^ a b "PRIMUS Drummer TIM ALEXANDER Suffers Second Heart Attack". July 2, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  13. ^ "Tool's Maynard To Roll Out "Perfect Circle" At Coachella". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  14. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (March 18, 2000). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved October 13, 2017 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ McIver, Joel (2002). Nu-metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk. Omnibus Press. p. 27.
  16. ^ "Building a better Democracy". Grantland. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  17. ^ "In Defence Of: Guns N' Roses 'Chinese Democracy'". 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  18. ^ "A Perfect Circle: Mer de Noms review". The New Yorker. 76 (22–28). 2000.
  19. ^ a b c "Mer De Noms - NME". Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  20. ^ a b c "A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms (album review 9) - Sputnikmusic". Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  21. ^ Corp, Hal (2002). Guitar World Presents Nu-Metal. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. pp. 91–94. ISBN 0-634-03287-9.
  22. ^ "Renholder: the Danny Lohner interview". Movement Magazine. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
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  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "A Perfect Circle – Mer de Noms". AllMusic. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Mer De Noms -". Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  31. ^ 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.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  32. ^ Rensen, Michael. "Rock Hard". issue 157. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  33. ^ [...], 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.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ Childers, Chad. "No. 15: A Perfect Circle, 'Mer de Noms' – Best Debut Hard Rock Albums". Loudwire. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  35. ^ Mer de Noms (CD liner notes). A Perfect Circle. Virgin Records. 2000.CS1 maint: others (link)
  36. ^

External links[edit]