The Smashing Pumpkins may not be the first band you think of when you ponder on the elusive genre of Heavy Metal but the truth is that Billy Corgan, the band’s enigmatic frontman, has come out on numerous occasions to speak of his love of bands like Slayer, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin as key influences.
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. “For the most part, musicality is really embraced in heavy metal. A lot of us ‘alt people’ have stolen vigorously from that musicality. Then, of course, those guys go and name check Radiohead as their influence and they fail to mention Mercyful Fate.”
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.”
Luckily, the wonderful people at Music Radar were clever enough to ask Mr Corgan what his top 10 Heavy Metal albums of all time were, and now, we have the playlist to go along with it!
Corgan has selected one hell of an array of albums from the influential, but probably not strictly Heavy Metal (argue amongst yourselves), album Fun House from Iggy Pop’s The Stooges to Mount Rushmore rockers Pantera. Corgan’s remarks provide a window into the sound that Billy would create with The Smashing Pumpkins.
Fun House – The Stooges (1969)
“It put the punk into metal or the other way around. Essential listening.”
Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (1975)
“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. In My Time of Dying is as heavy as anything released. Maybe not ‘heavy’ heavy, but emotionally… total oblivion.”
Restless And Wild – Accept (1982)
“I think Accept were a wildly underrated metal band. Too far ahead of their time. Fast As A Shark is one of the great metal songs of all time. Too weird maybe for America, but Europe was never afraid of Accept.”
God Hates Us All – Slayer (2001)
“This is my it-doesn’t-get-any-heavier-than-this record. I thought Slayer could never top Reign In Blood. I was wrong. Dead wrong.”
On Stage – Rainbow (1977)
“I love this album because this is what happens when you take a great band, a great set of live songs and just go for it.
“Celestial and grand, and it has a heaviness that is more whimsical than the Deep Purple blues. Check out the live concert from Germany in 1978 if you can (it’s been released on CD). Even better than this show.”
Far Beyond Driven – Pantera (1994)
“I had the privilege of seeing Pantera three times on this tour, and once stood like a geeky fan backstage and declared, ‘Boys, you are now the greatest metal band in the world!’
“Dimebag was one a kind, and this is the peak of his and Vinny’s vision of what Pantera could be, which was a machine that you could believe had lungs.”
Unleashed In The East – Judas Priest (1979)
“I love early Priest music but some of the production on the early albums sounds a little light in hindsight. This album captures their true heaviness and the razor dance that goes on all night between Glenn and KK. Amazing. I saw Priest play last year and they were BETTER than they were in 1982. I was totally blown away.”
Melissa – Mercyful Fate (1983)
“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, amazing guitar performances, and King Diamond’s heaven-to-hell vocal work is incredible and actually quite ahead of its time.”
Master Of Puppets – Metallica (1986)
“The perfect combo of blitzing riffs matched with the beginnings of Hetfield finding that melodies weren’t just something in the way of his robotic right hand.
“This is smart metal at its greatest level.”
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1973)
“Creepy, spooky, and heavier than God in brief, fleeting moments. This album always makes me think of the soundtrack Sabbath would make to a final day on Earth.”