The last we heard from Smashing Pumpkins was in 2000 with the album Machina and the Machines of God – and to be honest it’s not one of my favourites, due to its compression and over production.
So, when I heard Billy Corgan was reforming the group last year, aside from my obvious excitement, I was a little apprehensive (especially after his electronic-based solo effort in 2005).
Turns out my worries were needless. ‘Doomsday Clock’, the opening track of Zeitgeist, sets the tone for most of the album – in most part being guitar driven, heavy and down tuned – but, like always, there is also a softer, more mellow side to the acoustic.
Corgan has evolved his approach since the 90’s and has worked hard on making huge guitar arrangements with massive harmonising solos, heavy riffs and amazing tone.
Although he’s not joined by former Pumpkins James Iha and D’arcy, the recordings clearly don’t miss their presence and Corgan has taken on his old role of recording all guitars and bass tracks himself.
I was most eager to hear the drumming, and it was easy to see why Corgan and Chamberlin have stayed together for so long. They appear to simply flow off each other and, in my opinion, Zeitgeist showcases Chamberlin’s best drumming performance by far.
Corgan and Chamberlin produced 5 of the 12 tracks themselves and had help from producers Terry Date (Soundgarden and Pantera) and Thomas Barker (The Cars and Queen) on the remaining seven.
If I had to choose the stand-out tracks, my list would include ‘Doomsday clock’, ‘Bleeding the Orchid’ ,’Starz’ and the 10 minute epic ‘United States.’
So for a band missing 2 members, using 4 producers and with massive expectations on their 40 year old shoulders, Corgan has kicked some serious ass! Fingers crossed for a headlining spot at the next Big Day Out.