|Smashing Pumpkins - MACHINA/The Machines of God|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Frank Stone|
|Tuesday, 29 February 2000|
| Performance 6 | Sound 7 |
I was very excited to hear the new Smashing Pumpkins album, because I was so disappointed with their electronica experiment Adore, and I had heard through the music industry grapevine that Machina had kick-ass rock potential. Machina contains some of the band’s heavier compositions since 1991’s Gish. While a few songs such as "Heavy Metal Machine" and "The Everlasting Gaze" reek of rock havoc, the overall feeling of the CD is more mellow and somber, even on the harder-hitting tracks. And, as usual for the Pumpkins, the album is somewhat depressing.
The first track, "The Everlasting Gaze," does indeed rock with its grinding guitars, more than a lot of songs I’ve heard on mainstream radio recently. However, the track is so saturated with Billy Corgan’s guitar and overpowered by his whiny voice that the rest of the band is easily swamped. Billy is a great-modern day songwriter, but we’ve all heard the stories about his enormous ego, and this is taking it a little bit too far. Perhaps the Pumpkins should call the band Billy Corgan.
There is some strong songwriting on this CD. However, few cuts really jump out at you and pull your ears to the speakers. The progression of the record is anticlimactic, with the fully-saturated "The Everlasting Gaze" the most powerful track on the record. Its sing-songy hook and Hole-esque riffage screams of a hit. Beyond the opening track, Machina has very much the same sound on each and every cut. I found myself getting lost in the tracks and not always patient enough to make it all the way to the end.
It’s good to see former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin rejoin the band for this album. His drumming on past albums was amazing, and it appears that he wasn’t too strung out on smack to display a great performance on Machina as well.
If you are a hardcore Pumpkins fan, you’ll want to pick up Machina on the first day. If you are new to the band, be sure to pick up Siamese Dream along with or before Machina. In the early days of grunge, Corgan’s mournful voice was an original and fresh sound. Now at a much higher level on the pop food chain, the Pumpkins disappoint with Machina.
Reviewed by Frank Stone