Review Summary: Truly theatrical in it's pop quality, but misunderstood
Marilyn Manson is a name that gets spat on in the world of music, but this is because I feel he is misunderstood as an artist. My review is an attempt to justify his work, in particular his signature album which is entitled, Antichrist Superstar. This is a reference to the Andrew Lloyd Webber play Jesus Christ Superstar, except made subversive. Now this might seem lame but you have to understand the career of Manson, the way I see him as is as that he is the bastard child as pop culture, he is the Madonna of a twisted new generation. All the band members are named after pop culture figures and serial killers, his album is named after an Andrew Lloyd Webber play and his music is in essence, pop. But not the pop you are used to, his themes are subversive and warped and what I would like to term "industrial pop". He is hell spawn to your typical pop music fan and underground music snob alike, and is completely unique.
Produced by Trent Reznor, this might as well be a Nine Inch Nails album. I'm serious, this is Downward Spiral quality stuff but with a much more emphasised focus on pop hooks. It's sick, it's brutal, it dwells in all the post-modern angst ridden themes in the world but because Manson is too "gay" in image and sound or something people don't like him. I think it's ignorant. Irresponsible Hate Album opens the album, starting with samples of crowd noise screaming "We Hate God! We Hate God! We Hate God!" it's a perfect wake up call to your attention. The lyrics speak of being one ***ed up little puppy with inexpressible angst, brutal bass rhythms and feedback swelling guitars creating a perfect song with an explosive chorus and an excellent finish (I wasn't born with enough middle fingers!). The Beautiful People is the big song here, it made the charts I believe. That riff is simple, but incredible over the top of the tribal dums with awesome lyrics and keyboard parts. It speaks of celebrity culture and it's superficiality, and is perfect for Manson's image.
Dried Up Tied Up Dead To The World is where the album gets truly interesting, synths and squeamish guitars work together to create a thrilling sense of the theatrical as manson sings "I'll be your lover, i'll be forever, i'll be anything when i'm high". A true modern anthem amongst the drug fueled sex culture of today. Torniquet is incredible, with one of the best basslines and guitar riffs I have ever heard it's creepy and melodramatic, so good. Little Horn is more of a rocker, a crushing riff and perfect pop hooks in the lyrics make it as subversive as it is catchy, another excellent Manson anthem. Cryptorchid is a weird, ambient sounding track with some truly unique sounds. Seriously, listen to it on youtube or something. "Each time I make my mother cry and angel dies and falls from heaven". It has a real "Hell of Earth" feeling. Deformation has some of my favourite lyrics (I hold you up like an angel, I tear you down like a whore) and has a very claustrophic, introverted sound which is true of most of the album. Wormboy is probably the most "pop" effort on this album, though still full of sick littles swirls of feedback and horrific lyrics.
The later half of the album is the most poignant to me. Mister Superstar speaks of obsessiveness of fans over figures in pop culture (Hey mister superstar, i'll do anything for you. Hey mister superstar i'm your number one fan) gradually building up from a whispered evil sounding intro. (I know that I can turn you on, I wish I could just turn you off, I never wanted this.) Angel With The Scabbed Wings, sick riff. Kinderfeld is slow, droning, evil. The title track, Antichrist Superstar feels like a Christian gospel sermon at the start which is cool. My absolute favourite underrated track here would be 1996, which is fast and straight to the point in both music and subject matter, it is an intense and wonderful attack on the oppressors of this world.
Anti choice and anti girl
I am the anti-flag unfurled
Anti white and anti man
I got the anti-future plan
Anti fascist, anti mod
I am the anti-music god
Anti sober and anti whore
There will be enough of anti more
I can't believe in the things
That don't believe in me
Now it's your turn to see misanthropy
Anti people now you've gone too far
Here's your antichrist superstar
It really is a brilliant song, in a liberal sort of way. Minute of Decay is a slow brooding thing that reminds me of a swing song, except suicidal. The Reflecting God is the most controversial song of the album, apparently some kid shot himself listening to it back in the day and listen to the lyrics you could see why, it's an intense trip into the futility of life.
my world is unaffected, there is an exit here
I say it is and then it's true,
there is a dream inside a dream,
I'm wide awake the more I sleep
you'll understand when I'm dead
Perfect pre-chorus into the explosive chorus. Man That You Fear ends the album, it's more noise orientated with some acoustic guitar but it's cool. The album has 99 tracks (!) but don't worry most of them are blank except the last not-so-hidden track. Hint: it's good.
Antichrist Superstar is the pinnacle of pop music, it's superficiality and tragedy had nowhere to go and resulted in this man. Marliyn Manson is the bastard Queen of pop music, and Antichrist Superstar is his opus. Never was there a more fitting time and place for something to happen. Listen to through headphones: you will be rewarded with rich textures.