Manic Street Preachers
The Holy Bible


5.0
classic

Review

by Paul blart USER (13 Reviews)
December 13th, 2009 | 19 replies | 3,793 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Simply put, one of the heaviest albums ever recorded. Brilliant for the fact that here stands an album, so dark and morbid, yet so energized and punky. Brilliant for the fact that it's lyrics expose humanity for what it really is.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

If Richey Edwards, lyrical talent behind the Manic Street Preacher's first three albums, aimed to accomplish one thing in life, that would be to follow the Rock'n'Roll creed once spoken by Neil Young; "It's better to burn out, then to fade away". Those artists who he admired did so; poets, musicians, and writers, all of which were born to this earth, created a masterpiece, and vanished. In Richey Edward’s case, he vanished quite literally; becoming a missing person soon after the release of this record, and nowadays, presumed to be dead. Since then, the band has gone on to become quite popular in the United Kingdom, changing their sound almost completely after this release, which is probably why I'm really not so much of a Manic Street Preachers fan as I am a "The Holy Bible" fan.

With the pseudo-glam punk image washed away, and the messiness of their first two albums mopped up, the band follows up with, what I can honestly claim to be, one of the heaviest albums ever released. The genius behind this record though, is the fact that for one fleeting moment, this band was able to create music this heavy without the use of traditional tactics employed by metal, hardcore, and similar kinds of bands (throaty vocals, evil sounding guitars, lyrics that tell tales of virgins being raped and the legions of hell marching upon Earth, etc.) Instead, every song on here is fast, somewhat poppy, somewhat punky, guitar rock. However, it’s all in the delivery of the ideas, and that's really how you should look at this album.

Each theme is presented in such a perfect way. The lyrics, which are really the backbone of this entire album, are sung with some of the catchiest and passionate vocal hooks I have ever heard (any band that can make me sing the line "He's a boy. You want a girl, so tear off his ****. Tie his hair in bunches, *** him, call him Rita if you want" out loud in such a happy way deserves a golden medal for delicious vocal melodies). And really, James Bradfield deserves enormous credit for his vocal work on this album. It takes his powerful, jagged, and somewhat strained vocals, and *** load of talent, to really do these words justice. Yet despite how dark, morbid, and depressing these lyrics are, they're still played with plenty of energy and passion, something in which kids forgot how to do back in the 90's.

"The Holy Bible" is in essence, a collection of short stories, where you're transported into the minds of the sickest people that walk upon this earth; pimps, corrupt dictators, masochist, anorexics; people who are either completely corrupt or just disturbed (sometimes, even both). Reading the actual Holy Bible reveals texts about the sort of "evil" that walks this earth, and so does this album. However, in Richey Edward’s tormented mind, the lyrics are no sung with passion or forgiveness towards the human race; what Edwards preaches is misanthropy. I've never heard such vile contempt for humans as much as I do here. I always hate quoting songs in reviews, but I believe I wouldn't do my argument, or the album, justice if I didn't...

Richey Edwards, commenting on the state of the nation:

"Junkies winos whores, the nation's moral suicide" - "Of Walking Abortion"

Richey Edwards, and his belief in the overarching philosophy of the human race:

"The centre of humanity is cruelty" - "Archives of Pain"

Richey Edwards, describing his own self-inflected struggles with anorexia:

"See my third rib appear, week later all my flesh disappears. Stretching taut, cling-film on bone, I'm getting better." - "4st 7lbs."

Richey Edwards, spilling out his uttermost desires:

"I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit...and force it to look in the mirror." - "Mausoleum"

Well, you get the picture:

"So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything" - "Faster"

And again, if the lyrics seem to paint the picture that this album drags, ignore it; these songs range from blistering fast, to mellow and bittersweet; a little something for every fan of the rock spectrum. The self explanatory "Faster" rides along a landslide of soaring guitars, "This is Yesterday" shows us the gentler side of the Manic Street Preacher's sound, and "The Intense Humming of Evil", the only "weak" track on here, being the sole, gothic-industrial grind, in what is truly the darkest song on the album. All the sharp, interlocking guitar riffs, soaring, spastic solos, pummeling drumming, and lumbering bass work all coil together in such a tight sound, that it's hardly worth asking if this band has "chops".

While the music is fantastic, the melodies all memorable, and the delivery so well thought out, it's still really a lyrical album, as I mentioned before. On one side, we deal with the political corruption that decays the very moral fabric of our society. Pol-Pot, Mussolini, and Hitler are just a few bombs dropped on this album. However, where punk rock ideals would turn such a chance to stab out at the political world into a brainless and somewhat childish statement, the authors that penned these lyrics use their knowledge of political history, archiving and presenting the parallels between the tyrants of yesterday and today.

On the other side though, we're transported to the diary pages of Richey, where his obviously twisted mind is put on display. In interviews, he always claimed that despite all of his troubles (drug and alcohol addiction, self mutilation, physical disease), he would never be weak enough to commit suicide. Instead, he chooses to be a masochist, making himself suffer for whatever reason he thought justified it. It all seems like helpless self pity; however, you can't help but at least feel sorry for the guy. Just like "In Utero" and "Unplugged in New York" served as the final epitaph for which we will remember Kurt Cobain; "The Holy Bible" is a tribute to the life of Richey Edwards, and most likely, will be the one album that history remembers this band for. Sure, they may have topped charts with releases to follow this album; however, the "Manic Street Preachers" have never been so memorable as they are here.

From start, to somewhat brief (yet perfectly timed) finish, through all of the shades of evil and the solemn sound bites which introduce most of the tracks on the album, this album will implant itself within your consciousness. If not for its shocking message, then for its sound (a sound that seems to appeal to all spectrums of the rock music scale, from goths to metal heads, indie kids and classic rock purists). It's simply just a piece of disturbing art that you cannot help but admire. Like Kevin Carter's photograph of a vulture overlooking a starving African child, you are sickened yet glued to the image with disbelief. For a brief moment, you look at yourself, appreciate what you have and maybe the fact that in a world full of sinister men you are relatively "good", and carry on with what you were doing before, however, with that image faintly etched into your mind.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Piglet
December 13th 2009



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

very detailed review, i enjoyed reading it

Foxhound
December 13th 2009



4570 Comments


I made an honest effort to read all this but I'm just going to have to take your rating and run with it.

But when I'm a little more awake I'll have a second go at this review.

Kiran
Emeritus
December 13th 2009



6000 Comments


you should try to integrate the lyrics into your review with a point, i.e. you mentioned that they show a "vile contempt for humans", so give us a lyric that shows that and then elaborate on that point. seperating it into a list just makes the review look awkward and read fractured. also, you should take away lines like "i hate putting quotes in reviews" and that of its ilk.

otherwise, you write well, keep it up.

i bought this album a while ago and while i enjoyed it, it didnt quite hit me the way it seems to have impacted others.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Douchebag
December 13th 2009



3624 Comments


I've always wanted to hear this.

Titan50
December 13th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Alligator, you should. This is slowly taking over The Downward Spiral as my favourite album ever


Excellent review, just mop up the rather numerous typos


Might review this soon as well

AndrewKaster
December 13th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the criticism. And yes Alligator, it is a great listen. Like I said, it's so easy for this album to appeal to different kinds of music fans because it really blends different styles (metal, punk, rock, post-punk) together so well.

And yeah, I'll run this through Word again and clean up any typos I see. I spent a while on this and ended the review somewhere around three in the morning (damn insomnia), so there are bound to be some syntax errors.

AndrewKaster
December 13th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Holy dicks, there were numerous errors in that thing. Fuck, I need to stop writing at all strange hours of the night. Anyways, all the typos were fixed once I skimmed over it again, and I hope you enjoy the edited version.

shindip
December 13th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Im thinking of changing to a 5...

STOP SHOUTING!
December 13th 2009



631 Comments


Never liked the Manics, but you make this sound interesting.

Asiatic667
December 13th 2009



4647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've always wanted to hear this

Alligator, do. This is the epitome of genius

Seriously though, album is amazing.
Although I really enjoy their other albums, this is thier definitive work.
Everything Must Go comes as a close second.

StrizzMatik
December 16th 2009



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

One of the more overrated records on this site IMHO

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

AndrewKaster
December 16th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

StrizzMatik, if I see where you're coming from. I would never really say this album is genius, it's just quite simply, very catchy.

Knott-
Emeritus
December 16th 2009



10194 Comments


agreed Strizz ^^

you have it as a 5 because it's 'simply, very catchy'?

StrizzMatik
December 16th 2009



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can see why people love it, lyrically it's brilliant but musically it isn't innovative in the slightest (but still very good). I wouldn't call it super catchy though, it's a pretty dense album to get into at times.

SeaAnemone
December 16th 2009



19729 Comments


nah- I don't even think it's just all that catchy, for me it's more the mood that this creates and the atmosphere and emotion it so hauntingly conveys, along with insanely good lyrics and lyric material

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

AndrewKaster
December 17th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well, that's the main reason. Hell, when you get to the bottom of it, I could care less how revolutionary a Beatles album is, I focus more on just how goddamn catchy every single song is. I mean, sure, the lyrics are great, the instruments well played, the editing and pacing is well done, the vocals are fantastic, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda

Again, any band that makes me sing "He's a boy you want a girl so chop off his cock! Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want" outloud obviously has melodic talent. I think many people, reviewers and whatnot, tend to try and take music too seriously in a way. Seems some people could care less about melody (albeit, smart melodies) and more about whatever "grand message" an album trys to send. That's just me though; if a song gets stuck in my head, I can then concentrate on the lyrics, musicianship, and meaning more. Luckily, I find even the oddest of music catchy (Mr. Bungle gets stuck in my head every single day), so I'm not restricted to liking just "pop".

AndrewKaster
December 17th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Anyways, I was just saying to Strizz that I myself don't worship the album, and a lot of my admiration comes from it's melodic qualities (and the fact that a dark, depressing album can be so catchy). Sorry to keep rambling, just wanted to clarify.

Titan50
December 17th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I do agree that one of it's best factors is it's so catchy. Without the dark atmosphere, excellent production and THOSE lyrics, it would still be at least a 4.5

AndrewKaster
December 17th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh yeah Titan, definately. The melodies dragged me in, and the lyrics and atmosphere kept me there. For many, it's the reversal of what I just said that makes them like an album.



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