Review Summary: From White to Black, Manson brings back the anger, and it's back with a vengence.
After the poppy glamour of 'Mechanical Animals', fans were more than likely worried where the future of the Antichrist Superstar was headed. Their worries were quickly extinguished in 2000 when Marilyn Manson released 'Holy Wood (In The Shadow of the Valley of Death)'. Manson brings back the anger of 'Antichrist Superstar' but leaves the industrial beats behind for more of an alternative heavy metal sound, , and this happens to be their third and (sadly) final concept album. Taking place in Holy Wood, a gigantic, Disney-esque amusement park with attractions based around sex and violence. It's also a place where dead celebrities are worshipped as deities. The other location is Death Valley, a place of outcasts and imperfects where our main character, Adam, who is supposedly an example of a "perfect person", attempts to leave for Holy Wood.
While the concept isn't quite as strong as the other two thirds of the Triptych, it doesn't hold back the lyrics in any way, with them being as strong as ever. There's a rather heavy emphasis on criticisms of the media. This is appropriate considering this was released very shortly after Manson was accused of being a main influence on the Columbine High School shooters. He even directly confronts the issue in "The Nobodies" criticizing the media of making celebrities out of those who commit violence or suicide. Both the lyrics and the instrumentals on this song are very simple, but they're incredibly effective in bringing his point across and makes the song a high point in the album. Though perhaps the highest point being "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis). Being instrumentally diverse and lyrically genius, "Target Audience" changes drastically from a slow, quiet, somewhat emotional track to a hard hitting, alternative metal ride with some of the best lyrics on the LP. Top it off with how well it progresses into "President Dead", another hard and heavy masterpiece, and "Target Audience" is an underrated must listen.
"Holy Wood" isn't exactly the most
diverse album in Manson's library, but each song does certainly have its own personality. Whether it be heavy headbangers like "The Love Song" or "The Fight Song", slow and brooding tracks like "GodEatGod" or "Cruci-Fiction In Space", or impressively done acoustic tracks like "In The Shadow of the Valley of Death" or "Lamb of God", 'Holy Wood' certainly has a little bit of everything to whet your appetite as you listen through. It must be said though that the songs alone have more variety than the album as a whole. "A Place in the Dirt" begins with an oddly sci-fi feel before getting loud, while not necessarily heavy. The chorus has a feeling of an emotional departure and is very touching and captivating. Another sadly overlooked highlight.
Without a bad song in this large, 19 track package, 'Holy Wood (In The Shadow of the Valley of Death)' is a complete package of impressive lyricism, creative instrumentalism, and another batch of angry, loud, and heavy music to bring back any fans turned off by 'Mechanical Animals'. This is certainly on the level of greatness that 'Antichrist' presented, and is the conclusion to what most fans consider to be Manson's magnum opus.