Review Summary: Doing an impressive leap away from the darkness and into a Great Big White World.
Experimentation is in Marilyn Manson's nature. No two of the band's records sound alike, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in their third studio album, 'Mechanical Animals'. Manson goes from a gritty, dark, industrial metal sound filled with rage and animosity, to a completely contradictory glam rock sound that is well mixed with slower, emotional songs and energetic, somewhat satirical tracks. This total change for the band was met with mixed reaction by fans at the time, but has been known now to be some of Manson's finest work.
The concept of the album follows Omega, a gender ambiguous alien (portrayed on album's infamous cover art) who crashed to Earth and is subsequently brainwashed and transformed into a drug addicted media icon along with his band, Omega and the Mechanical Animals. The other half of the story is told from the perspective of Alpha, who is just learning to use his emotions and, as he learns more, is surprised at how little emotion humans use. This concept cannot be ignored because it ends up helping to create Marilyn Manson's absolute finest writing in his entire discography. The use of the colored shades worn by the brainwashed Omega and the emotion and sadness felt by the naive Alpha are shown fantastically in the metaphors, satire, and relatable views of the world and the effect that fame has on people.
This album may be a complete 180 for the band in terms of their sound, but it still manages to maintain the Manson feel impressively well. While the rage and fury was taken from 'Antichrist Superstar' for a more lighthearted sound overall, the industrial beats and unique vocals still remain, so that feel experienced by the previous effort still lingers, at least somewhat. The sound itself ends up being very diverse, being almost fifty fifty between upbeat, harder rock songs and quieter, more heart-felt songs. Perhaps the most high energy track being "Posthuman", which is a good mix of industrial and glam with electronic drum beats and heavily distorted and high pitched guitar work. "I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)" has a funky guitar riff and impressive satirical lyricism. That along with the church choir near the end make this a very standout track. Dancier songs such as "I Want To Disappear" and "The Dope Show" add to the variety as well and will easily get you moving in your chair, whether it be the groovy riffs in the former or the slow, pole dance worthy beats of the latter.
On the other side of the coin, we find the slower paced songs which are basically one for one with the faster songs. While songs such as "Disassociative" and the title track may have less horsepower and more dramatic lyrics, they're far from quiet. They end up pumping up the sound in the chorus which oddly adds to the sad lyrics impressively well. As with 'Antichrist Superstar', this album ends on another piece of Manson's finest work with "Coma White". With some of the most powerful and tear-jerking lyrics in the band's discography, as well as creative guitar work that adds to the emotion extremely well, despite the annoyingly squealy solo in the bridge, "Coma White" ends up being an absolute must listen.
'Mechanical Animals' is another impressive release by Marilyn Manson. Even if the plot is a bit too
reminiscent of David Bowie's 'Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust' and the new sound may throw off fans of the grittier sound of 'Antichrist', this album is still an extremely well put together and masterfully written LP. If you're looking to become a Marilyn Manson fan, this is probably the best place to start. It may be a black sheep in terms of sound, it still gives you that Manson feel while still being more accessible than his other work.