The Smashing Pumpkins: MACHINA / the machines of God

The Smashing Pumpkins: MACHINA / the machines of God

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Smashing Pumpkins

Album: MACHINA / the machines of God
Label: Virgin

Though he's frequently maligned as a bombastic, egomaniacal control freak, it seems Billy Corgan's fans don't want him any other way. How else to explain the deafening backlash that greeted him upon the release of his band's 1998 album Adore, which had the audacity to be pretty and mostly quiet? That underrated disc clearly set the stage for the over-the-top, guitar-intensive wallop of MACHINA / the machines of God, which wears its outsized pretensions on its sleeve like no album since, well, Adore's predecessor, the godzillion-selling double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. From its length (like Adore, in the neighborhood of 73 minutes) to its subject matter (fame, drugs, death, God), to the band's new logo (an S and a P on either side of a big cross, suggesting either a religious conversion or Stone Temple Pilots), everything about MACHINA is capital-I Important, with virtually every element delivered in gaudy excess: There's wall-of-sound rock ("The Everlasting Gaze," the appropriately titled "Heavy Metal Machine") and shimmery commercial pop-rock (the ready-made hits "Raindrops + Sunshowers," "Stand Inside Your Love") in equal measure, not to mention a characteristically ambitious, ten-minute, three-part opus ("Glass And The Ghost Children"). MACHINA is kind of oppressive to digest in one sitting, thanks in large part to the cumulative impact of 70+ minutes of Corgan's adenoidal whine—call it Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie Syndrome—but there's enough going for it to make additional exposures worthwhile. And if the album pulls an Adore and tanks, you certainly won't be able to fault The Smashing Pumpkins for not dishing out the guitar-rock goods everyone seems to have been eagerly anticipating.