Review Summary: A great listen but maybe not everytime...
Over the late 90s, with the release of the career making Antichrist Superstar
, Marilyn Manson became the man general America most feared. And who wouldn’t be? After all, in the midst of the casually dressed rock and metal stars, finally looking like members of society that a normal person could relate to, heck finally looking like a human, who were ruling the roost at that time, came an ex-music journalist, with a penchant for the bizarre. Brian Hugh Warner, single-handedly, brought back the vaudeville of acts like Alice Cooper
… with a vengeance. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but to an extent it rings true. While everyone was trying to become a hero, Marilyn Manson worked to become the ultimate anti-hero… a very Alice Cooper thing to do.
With the release of Antichrist Superstar
, the world awoke to a scary man who, it seemed, didn’t care about societal boundaries, cultural boundaries and basically gave all the rules that society lives its life by, a big finger. Alcohol, drugs, violence, name it… he’s done it. The world became his stage. It was almost as if Andy Kauffman figured into the equation somewhere and it scared the sh*t out of people
But around the turn of the century, things weren’t going too well for Brian Warner. The ghost of Columbine over his head thanks to the media and the general public and the failure of Mechanical Animals
, in which Manson tried a more glam based approach as opposed to the raw metal that his earlier albums were, both hit him badly. And it showed. For then he returned with his answer – Holy Wood
One must admit that Manson has always been a very smart and savvy guy (business wise) and it was this savvy that made him throw the raw metal workings of Antichrist… and the sonics of glam found on Mechanical Animals into a blender. What emerges is a tour-de-force that is at once raw and scathing and yet shows signs of maturity and sophistication. And on this assault vehicle Manson comes back singing about the degeneration of American Society, society’s role in the shootings at Columbine and the shameless parading of media to try to get their ratings up using human tragedy. With songs titled President Dead
and Disposable Teens
, it’s very apparent he’s not trying to be subtle.
While this album maybe all about Marilyn himself, the rest of the band doesn’t allow itself to get pushed into the shadows. Great riffs and catchy (sometimes downright danceable) beats keep the tracks heavy and get you head-banging. This is the raw. The glam? The extensive use of techno throughout the album actually helps make the album darker, giving very depressing atmospheric soundscapes in the background for the song to pounce out from. There is also some variety with songs showing marked influences from genres like punk (Fight Song
’s verses chorus changes sound like a slightly slowed down darker version of Song 2
) and others scattered through this 19 song epic.
But there are three basic things, that I realize, tend to take some of the sting off the album. The first stands glaringly out of the last line of the previous paragraph – the album is 19 songs long, and not like thrash where you have 2 min shred fests. Most of the songs are proper length songs. The second is that, as the album progresses it tends to drone. Volume dynamics, while present, don’t tend to show themselves enough to endow a certain variation on the album and as such, the continuous ranting and raving can get a bit tiresome. The third is maybe Manson came in a bit too late. 2000 was undoubtedly the year of Eminem
and as such while his acts in society still shocked people, his music and lyrics became, to an extent, mild. Maybe this was the reason this was commercially Manson’s worst album dropping off the charts faster than gravity could pull it down.
Still, all in all, it is a great listen. I must admit here that, despite my only lukewarm-ing to him and his music, he’s a talented songwriter and every line that he sings in the album sounds immediately anthemic; you can almost imagine thousands of disgruntled misfits of society chanting his lyrics as they march in protest, eyeliner, black dresses and all. I personally like listening to this album a track at a time, randomizing them in my playlist with other songs. It takes this to find that most tracks are, individually, solid gold.