Marilyn Manson
Portrait of an American Family


2.5
average

Review

by Simon Killip CONTRIBUTOR (144 Reviews)
December 2nd, 2014 | 38 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The starting grounds to stardom.

Before the 70’s inspired album, before the war against religion, the government and the media attacks, the concept albums and before all the line-up changes that gives Dave Mustaine a run for his money, there was a more innocent (to a degree) time for Marilyn Manson.

This 1994 LP, produced by both Trent Reznor and the frontman himself is a little rough around the edges when compared to the other LPs in Manson’s career. Portrait of An American Family unfortunately, hasn’t aged as gracefully as the other albums from the discography. Still, every band has its starting points and as it happens Portrait of an American Family still has the odd enjoyable moment. If there is one thing to take into account before listening to Portrait of An American Family, it’s to put any preconceptions of this LP to one side before listening. You won’t find much of anything really substantial in the way of concepts, it has its themes – as the title suggests – but you won’t find much of anything that really made Marilyn Manson the household name he is today, rather you’ll catch glimmers of what makes the band great in the future. Manson’s music has always kept pretty simple in terms of musical sound, but here you’ll find the music extremely simple; so simple it’s clearly obvious when listening to the LP that the members of Marilyn Manson were just getting to grips with their instruments at the time. The same can be said for Manson himself, as his voice lacks any really power, his approach to songs just seems to have him wail and drone talk through tracks.

Sound samples of movies or TV shows are scattered around the album and it’s these samples that make the album sound the most glaringly dated. What’s worse is it ruins the band's tone, making the band sound like a comedy act rather than a heavy sounding band. "Dope Hat" with the hypnotic effects, or "Cake and Sodomy" with the Rob Zombie-esque samples of chatter -- they don’t bring anything to the table, rather ruin any kind of momentum the band are trying to build. Another problem is the length of the album: due to the lack of creative musicianship on offer the songs often wane quickly and thus overstay their welcome. There is some tell tale signs of the band growing though, tracks like "Cyclops" and "Organ Grinder" show the groove side of the band, while "Wrapped in plastic" shows the experimental side of the band that is seen on future records. Athough musically simple, if you look past the glaringly dated samples and lack of good songwriting, the music is fun for what it is.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend this LP to fans. The production does this album no favours as it has more of a 90’s alt-rock feel than the vibes fans are used to on other Mason records. And with nothing particularly interesting cooked up instrumentally or vocally, due to the band being in that “finding their sound” stage, it makes things even harder to recommend. If you really want to listen to everything Manson it's worth the interest to give it a quick spin, it isn’t a terrible record and it has a couple of moments. Just don't expect anything you know and love about the band. For the most part though, it is an entry that was at a juvenile time in Manson’s career.

Average.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/35jt3x

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This was probably the hardest review to get my point across. I hope it reads okay. Real lack of anything on this to make a recommendation.



Thanks to all that read and, hopefully, enjoyed the discog review.





Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


10153 Comments


"his approach to songs just seems to have him whale and drone talk through the tracks"

did you mean wail* or were you actually meaning to use whale in connection with the droning thing later in the sentence? like whales are pretty droney but I don't think that's a sensible word regardless lol

"‘Dope Hat’ with the hypnotic effects, ‘Cake and Sodomy’ with the Rob Zombie-esque samples of chatter"

I would have written "....the hypnotic effects or 'Cake and Sodomy' with....". The "or" would make it flow better I believe.

"And though musically simple....."

You could make this better. Definitely don't start with "And", at least imo. Maybe "Although musically simple....."

Otherwise nice review, pos'd. I didn't go hard on proofreading because it's early and I'm tired but it looks good to me.

Never listened to much Manson, but clearly I should avoid this for starters.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Misery Machine is still one of his best

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

MO
December 2nd 2014


21937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this was an integral part of my preteen years. such a good album

Tunaboy45
December 2nd 2014


15521 Comments


Surprisingly I haven't heard the full album, just a few songs here and there.


trackbytrackreviews
December 2nd 2014


3325 Comments


This is miles ahead of Eat Me, Drink Me come on

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Corrected Game. Cheers for the input.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

And opinionnssss TBT. This is by far the worst of the discog, although I gave High End of Low a 2 (more like a 2.3/2.4), it's because I expected a higher quality from it. This is simple, solid fun, but pales next to anything else he's done after this.

trackbytrackreviews
December 2nd 2014


3325 Comments


No, smells like children is the worst

CaptainAaarrrggghhh
December 2nd 2014


424 Comments


Smells Like Children is not even an album.
It seems THEOL still has the most haters though, fans of Portrait can at least call it "old-school". I feel lonely in my camp of THEOL-approvers.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agreed, smells like children sucks, but as said it isn't an album

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2014


13429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agreed, smells like children sucks, but as said it isn't an album

Sciroccu
December 2nd 2014


881 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Average album indeed.

omnipanzer
December 2nd 2014


21816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a fantastic album and pretty original for 1994 imho.

omnipanzer
December 2nd 2014


21816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't agree with almost anything in this review tbh.

This motherfuckers gonna get my metal...

Brabiz
December 12th 2015


890 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Kind of reminds me of Dirt by Alice in Chains in some parts. Especiall on Cyclops

Digging: MGMT - Little Dark Age

TVC15
October 11th 2017


8598 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This actually just clicked hard for me. Some really fuckin good songs here besides Lunchbox and Cake and Sodomy

Digging: Carcass - Heartwork

artiswar
October 11th 2017


1563 Comments


Hell yeah. Wrapped In Plastic is such a classic.

DarkSideOfLucca
October 11th 2017


7610 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

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