The Smashing Pumpkins may not be the first band that comes to mind when pondering the elusive genre of metal. Still, the truth is that Billy Corgan, the band’s enigmatic frontman, has come out on numerous occasions to discuss his love of bands like Slayer, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin as key influences to the band’s generation-defining sound. It’s clear that metal runs through Corgan’s veins.
When speaking with Artist Direct, Corgan even highlighted that his knowledge ran a little deeper than just the genre’s headliners. “Heavy metal is obviously way more mainstream than it used to be,” he suggests. It’s a keen assessment; long gone are the days when you’d have to hide your Slayer shirt. These days, those shirts, if not the bands, are of the highest fashion.
“For the most part, musicality is really embraced in heavy metal. A lot of us’ alt people’ have stolen vigorously from that musicality,” he added. “Then, of course, those guys go and name check Radiohead as their influence and they fail to mention Mercyful Fate—it’s a band that makes his list with their album Melissa an album which nearly severed friendships! This album so freaked out the drummer in my high school band that he forbid me to listen to it in his presence. Super prog.”
Billy does, however, offer up some more obvious candidates as inspiration for the band, citing Black Sabbath as guiding light in his musical upbringing. “If you think of quintessential Smashing Pumpkins, that’s the sound, I make no bones about it. I got it straight from Black Sabbath.” It’s refreshing to hear an artist lead their audience to their influences so effortlessly.
Luckily, the good people at Music Radar were clever enough to ask Mr Corgan – knowing his penchant for distortion – what his top ten Metal albums of all time were, and now, we have the playlist to go along with it. It’s a quick trip through the most vital records of the genre.
The singer makes a particular point to note some of the scene’s more illustrious names and offer up a few tidbits along the way. For example, this wholesome exchange with the Metal overlords Pantera, “I had the privilege of seeing Pantera three times… and once stood like a geeky fan backstage and declared, ‘Boys, you are now the greatest metal band in the world!'”
Corgan also selected an album from the influential, but probably not strictly heavy metal (argue amongst yourselves), album Fun House from Iggy Pop’s The Stooges, saying: “It put the punk into metal or the other way around. Essential listening.” Corgan also selects Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, adding: “It’s hard to call Zep’ metal’ but they did create different blueprints that are still being used in Riffland. I love this record because it is so damn dark. “
Corgan has a lot of opinions on metal; it would seem that he even admitted that, at one point, he didn’t think Slayer would necessarily make it, saying: “I thought Slayer could never top Reign In Blood. I was wrong. Dead wrong.” A keen listener, for sure, Corgan’s selection is a perfect list of the frontrunners and outliers of metal.
Featuring a whole host of iconic artists, see the full list below and marvel at the stunning playlist too.
Billy Corgan’s 10 favourite metal albums:
- Fun House – The Stooges (1969)
- Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (1975)
- Restless And Wild – Accept (1982)
- God Hates Us All – Slayer (2001)
- On Stage – Rainbow (1977)
- Far Beyond Driven – Pantera (1994)
- Unleashed In The East – Judas Priest (1979)
- Melissa – Mercyful Fate (1983)
- Master Of Puppets – Metallica (1986)
- Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1973)