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They're Back To Rock

Smashing Pumpkins
MACHINA: The Machines Of God

Despite the fact that they name their albums rather pretentiously (as of late, anyway), and even barring the fact that I try to review mainly indie rock and electronic music at the site, I feel compelled to add my opinion on this disc. The main reason is that I've always been kind of a fan of the group. I got their first release Gish right when it came out and it rocked my lame high-school ass. The media hadn't yet exposed the supposed truth of Billy Corgans maniacal control-freak nature, and all I knew was that they offered me a great alternative to listening to grunge record after grunge record that was coming out at the time.

Anyway, since about Siamese Dream or Pisces Iscariot (the B-sides collection), the group has not only gone through a ton of different changes (including losing their drummer, a touring member dying of an overdose, getting their drummer back, and then losing their bassist). Through it all, they've managed to be super-prolific, and fairly consistent as well. While their previous album Adore got slagged pretty hard by critics and fans alike, it still had some good tracks despite it's overlong running time.

Nearly the same fact holds true on this new release MACHINA: The Machines Of God as well, except this time instead of lulling the listener, they've gone back to their old state of mainly trying to rock. Any doubts of this will no doubt get smashed with the blistering riffs of the first track "The Everlasting Gaze." The track is completely thick with sound and even features a moment of unadorned (acapella) Corgan basically showing off his rapping skills before the guitars and drums come crashing down again. Although "Stand Inside You Love" is a fairly tame track by the groups standards, it's also very catchy, and the repetitive track completely takes off during the choruses. The album gets somewhat bogged-down around the middle section (mainly instigated by the sludge-rock of "Heavy Metal Machine" and the 10-minute long "Glass And The Ghost Children")

Of course, in this time, the group also manages to kick out some very nice tracks as well, including the very pretty, quiet "Try Try Try," the mid-tempo "Wound," and the we-go-a-waltzing sound of "With Every Light." As hinted at above, drummer Jimmy Chamberlain is back for this disc and although they don't use him as much as they probably should, it's a welcome change from the pitter-patter of drum machines. Billy Corgan still sings in a whine like usual, but if you're heard previous work by the group, you're already used to that. At around 75 minutes, things run a bit long, but it's back to more of their old ways than the soft Adore. Overall, a step in the right direction for the group, but will they ever be able to overcome everyone's expectations?

Rating: 7