Review Summary: Under Neon Loneliness, CHAPTER 3: “I Know I Believe In Nothing But It Is My Nothing…”...I hate purity... Hate goodness... I don't want virtue to exist anywhere... I want everyone corrupt..
June, 1994. Top of the Pops cycles through the same pap as always, as if to be surprised Oasis and blur have had even more hits this week. Pulp isn't there, neither is Suede, and we’ll be damned if we’re going to hear anything off the new Wildhearts album. Vic Reeves, rather unassumingly, throws the cameras to his left to reveal the latest entry into the charts, the venomous and creeping punch that became “Faster”. Donned in balaclava, James Dean Bradfield stares down the devastated audience with fierce intent, spitting line after line of perfected Richey Edwards rhetoric. Once prancing and waltzing the stage like self-referential oafs, Edwards and Nicky Wire seem indelibly focused with their instruments- rarely do they trip up, and any mistake is just as quickly met with a bout of concentrated and bettered aggression. Richey Edwards is playing his guitar, the band no longer miming along to the record in ironic fashion, and grandmas and shut-ins across England are absolutely disgusted
at this hateful, provocative and disaffected track.
And as British hyperbole has come to tell, “Faster” was but the tip of the Iceberg.
Many bands have mined self-hate in the long winding history of Pop music. Lou Reed may have been the first of his craft, releasing album after album of despair culminating in the distressing Berlin
release. Joy Division kick-started the whole morose trend when Ian Curtis killed himself and left the sickly Closer
as his epitaph. Suicide were often known for their minimalist aesthetic matched with disturbed tri-tones and random bouts of shrieking- extremist metalheads will often claim the likes of Silencer, Burzum and Mayhem have never been topped in the department of seriously confronting and painful music. And then of course, there’s the ‘Kids of the ‘90s’ out there, who worship the Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible
second only to Nirvana’s In Utero
Think of any miserable adjective, and that in many ways describes The Holy Bible
’s bleak manifesto. Dripping with intense hatred and disassociation, the extreme left-turn of the bands third record is staggering. Chipping away at a sound now becoming obsolete, The Holy Bible
was the beginning of a band carving out a darker reality from their surroundings. No longer intent on subversion, the band begun writing distinctly violent and repulsive music to match that of their heinous lyrical source.
Thrown into the midst of it all on opener “Yes”, you’re not exactly lead to the core as much as you are drowned in the albums endless sorrow. Lyrically detailing the loss of pride that comes from Prostitution and being pimped, Edwards details the whore from the Pimps perspective, crudely declaring that, “he’s a boy/you want a girl so tear off his cock/tie his hair in bunches, *** him/call him Rita if you want”, which delivered from Bradfield becomes aggressively disturbing. The lines sung from the protagonists perspective too display similar themes of misanthropy- the very opening lines have him mumble softly, “For sale/dumb cunts, same dumb questions”, engaging the listener as a malleable and frightened rabbit in the headlights. Culminating in industrial clatter, the cathartic nature of “Yes” is one so greatly foreshadowing that it’s difficult to fully comprehend what is further brought to the surface.
But almost unusually, the band manages to come up trumps and not bugger it all up with filler. The objectivist view of capital punishment on “Archives of Pain” is surprising not least due to the bands Leftist political ideology, cementing the bands ardent and new found loathing. Further disgust with the self is outlined on “4st. 7lb.”, an autobiographical detailing of Edwards’ worsening anorexia, giving horrendous depth to the mental affliction while being confused as to who it is he’s trying to appeal to- those who surround him, or himself. The muffled shouts that collapse “Of Walking Abortion”- “Who’s responsible!?/You ***ing are!”- are again brilliantly exposes of hatred that would rightfully go on to become some of the bands most iconically pieced together moments.
That’s without even exploring the singles of the album that would pass as darker deep cut moments on any other album. “Revol” is a noise-pop, 3-minute blast that details allegories of disgraced leaders with sexual euphemisms to boot- its German chorus further locks away any surface meaning that isn't explored in the listeners own time. “She Is Suffering” is the closest the album comes to a ballad (notwithstanding the soft and nostalgic bounce of “This Is Yesterday”), another moment of Edwards’ simply voicing his opinion on the worth of having an orgasm. And then of course, there’s “Faster”, 4 minutes of rhetoric made drastically more violent and comprehensible than the likes of “Born to End” on Generation Terrorists
. Culminating in the now famed lines, “So damn easy to cave in!/Man kills everything”, “Faster” was proof the Manic Street Preachers were ‘4REAL’ (so to speak) and earned them the ‘respect they deserved’ (so to speak).
Even with 6-odd paragraphs detailing the depressive nature of The Holy Bible
, it’s nothing compared to soaking up the music for yourself. Truly, this was both the critical and commercial peak of the Edwards-era Manic’s (sales at the time detailed it worse off than Gold Against the Soul
and Generation Terrorists
, chart positions and retrospective sales redeemed it), and while it did noticeably adapt without the Glam-punk mentality that drove many to them, it was the sound of the band being fiercely independent where their other records were consumed with exploring the sounds of others. Even though Edwards himself was initially ecstatic about the release, the pressure began to mount and the impending tour of America was drawing ever closer, Richey Edwards eventually caved into his mental and social disaffection.
As of February 1995, he has never been found dead or alive. The victim of Rock & Roll mythology and the glamour of the ‘27 Club’, The Holy Bible
was the bands crowning achievement made now to appear glamorized and applauded. But as time would tell, The Holy Bible
was in essence just the beginning of it all.
NEXT: “It’s So ***ing Funny, It’s Obscene…”