Words by Russell Carstens

To some, Billy Corgan may come off as a crank when it comes to defending the legacy of The Smashing Pumpkins, but his passion and commitment to his craft can’t be doubted. With Monuments to an Elegy, his succinct approach to songwriting is a breath of fresh air. Tommy Lee of Motley Crue was recruited for drumming duties, and anyone who knows how much he loves his job would be delighted to witness him going berserk in the studio with his contagious, childlike enthusiasm for beating the heck out of every drum head in sight.

“Tiberius” gently pushes the album off with peppered piano sounds, turning suddenly to classic Pumpkins heaviness. Corgan’s scorching, yet always-fitting lead guitar playing shows its face a few times before another ultra heavy riff (think back to Mellon Collie‘s “Jellybelly”) is introduced, making for an epic and orchestral guitar experience.

On the Adore-esque “Being Beige,” it’s easy to see the influence the Pumpkins have had over the dreamy Team Sleep project lead by Deftones singer Chino Moreno, and other bands who have taken the cue from Corgan to fearlessly put ultra-heavy songs side by side with delicate ones. Drum machines and gracefully picked guitars support the strong sincerity in Corgan’s singing, which becomes layered in the song’s grand ending.

“Anaise!” and “Monuments” boast a strong synth presence and let the bass guitar do lots of the talking without other instruments getting in the way — a rarity in the Pumpkins’ repertoire. “One and All (We Are)” is driving and unrelenting, but the mix buries the vocals, making them occasionally difficult to process.

A classic Detroit rave beat helps the optimistic standout track “Run2me” pedal along as Corgan invites his muse to “Run to me/ where the sun never leaves.” Tommy Lee makes floor toms blast like cannon shots throughout. Another optimistic melody bursting with good vibes drives “Drum + Fife,” where Corgan proclaims, “I will bang this drum ’till my dying day,” and “Don’t you ever be afraid/ no more/ no more … ”

With an all killer, no filler approach and plenty of riffs, Monuments to an Elegy is no doubt one of the Pumpkins’ best releases. Let’s hope this one gets some proper recognition and gives Corgan a reason to be content with his position in rock.

Smashing Pumpkins
‘Monuments To An Elegy’
BMG Rights Management
© December 9th, 2014



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