Making the transition from dingy cartoon shock-rock to industrial metal/goth rock icon, 1996 saw Marilyn Manson reveal his concept album: Antichrist Superstar (A title which Manson often bestowed upon himself).
The album opens with a moment of distorted voice before kicking into the no-holds-barred aggression of Irresponsible Hate Anthem, with it's pummeling tempo and solid rythm section work, Manson's vocals sound every bit as caustic as his first lines cover patriotism, abortion, and sucicide: this is Manson in his prime.
The first single, unnoficial Goth anthem The Beautiful People, is a marching-pace goth stomp. a simple 3-chord riff, buzzing (but never overly distorted) guitars, and a base level social commentary are all present here, some of the trademark Manson touches. The caustic Dried up, Tied up, and Dead To The World is a throbbing bass verse indespersed with a groaning chorus that sounds like a hangover.
Tourniquet is a melodic track, relying more heavily upon the guitars for melody than before, and Manson works in his trademark creepy-whisper/growl in parts. a thick line of distorted guitars matched only with ranting introduce Little Horn, a heavier track on the album, without the "lighter" verses of the opening track, though it is obvious that the band are using a formula here. Cryptorchild clocks in at just 2:44, and is more like an interlude than a song, the song changing almost completely in the middle, like a revelation (and considering Manson's lose "concept" here, it's highly likely thats what it is).
Deformography is a grinding industrial track, Wormboy is a twisted funk-metal number, Mister Superstar is a gritty comment on fan worship, and Angel With The Scabbed Wings sounds like a third Little Horn or Irresponsible Hate.
Kinderfeld changes the pace of the album slightly, reverting to the creepy vocals of the Smells Like Children EP, and relies much more on synths and bass than the albums heavier songs. The title track is a 5-minute rock opera, featuring bizzare guitar effects, matched only by the vocal tricks. it features lyrical throwbacks to Cryptorchild, and Mansons drones, screeches, whines, and grunts his way through the songs various melodies.
1996 is yet another moment of pure shock-rock fun, while Minute Of Decay seems like a confused mish-mash of the various styles on the album and The Reflecting God sounds like the anthem for a dead planet, full of nihilism and heresy, with a chorus that is half-rant half-song.
The albums final track is the slow and *extremely* dark-sounding The Man That You Fear. A vague depiction of urban angst, the voice of the song contemplating suicide, self-harm, and telling everyone he knows that they're already dead, all through the medium of mansons dry and scathing croak.
Antichrist Superstar, though not as intense as Holy Wood, is still a landmark Manson release, full of as many ***-you devil-horns piss-off-your-parents moments as it is of poignant and dingy claustrophobia, and sombre social commentary.
a quality release, vital to any Manson collection, but by no means the best alternative for something in the genre.