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The Smashing Pumpkins

MACHINA/The Machines of God

Format: CD   Release Date: 05/02/2000
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Any record called MACHINA/The Machines of God couldn't be a pure rock album. The title suggests this is a concept album, which are at least a little progressive. As it happens, MACHINA is a lot progressive. Though it's damn near impossible to figure out the story line, the album plays like a concept album, with each track floating into the next, winding up with an album artier than Adore. That's not a liability, since the Smashing Pumpkins were always arty, yet Billy Corgan was very clever in camouflaging his artiness. "The Everlasting Gaze" rocks more overtly than anything on Adore, and the storybook-styled artwork deliberately evokes memories of Mellon Collie. Enthusiasts will find moments to admire throughout MACHINA, but ultimately, they might be disappointed with a record that crosses Mellon Collie with Adore without relying on the strengths of either. MACHINA appears to be ornately straightforward, yet as it progresses, it becomes increasingly insular. By the time it gets to "Heavy Metal Machine," designed as the record's crushing centerpiece, its weaknesses become apparent. "Heavy Metal Machine" should be a brutal, bruising experience, yet it's toothless, processed within an inch of its life. It becomes clear that the chief strength of the album is production. Not once does MACHINA ever feel like the work of a band; it feels as if it was painstakingly assembled by Corgan and Flood. The Smashing Pumpkins have always been Corgan's band, but they've never sounded like a solo vehicle the way that they do here. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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