A Perfect Circle was formed in 1999 by guitarist Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan of Tool. "eMOTIVe," the third album by the band is essentially a protest album that contains covers of anti-war songs including John Lennon's "Imagine," Nick Lowe's "Peace Love and Understanding," Joni Mitchell's Fiddle And Drum," Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme," and Fear's "Let's Have A War," among others. It also includes two original tracks by the band, "Passive" and "Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums." "eMOTIVe" was purposely released on November 2nd, 2004 (Election Day) as a protest against then President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The album cover depicts a crumbling peace sign with what appears to be a burning, post-apocalyptic skyline of Los Angeles. As with previous A Perfect Circle albums, the musical voice on "eMOTIVe" is a mix between Tool and poppier "alternative" rock, however this is a bit more mellow (on the front end) and a darker album musically and in terms of content. Much like his work with Tool, Keenan's voice is full of passion, sadness, and anger with a touch of desperation. Howerdel's guitar work on "eMOTIVe" is akin to the work of Daniel Ash (Bauhaus/Love And Rockets) with haunting down-tuning and pedal effects. There is also more piano and electronic influence on this album than on previous albums. Cover songs can be a tricky business, especially an entire album of covers, but A Perfect Circle does a really nice job pulling off a cohesive thread throughout the album as well as conveying a new spin on the material while still staying true to the original intent of the songs.
With such thought-provoking subject matter, I thought the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Company would make a good pairing. The Old Rasputin pours a lovely black in a pint glass with a thick and frothy, 2-finger mocha head. The aroma is thick with dark-roasted coffee notes along with dark chocolate, black licorice, molasses, and bitter hops. Full-bodied and very flavorful, the Old Rasputin's taste is rich, chewy, and very earthy. As with the nose, the taste mingles coffee notes with dark chocolate. There are also some smoky and roasted malt flavors. Like "eMOTIVe," it is complex, well-layered, and has a bitter sweet finish. The Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is a great beer to slowly nurse with the sounds of A Perfect Circle intertwining and enhancing the aromas and flavors!