Review Summary: Haven't I been such a good good boy?
I’ll put it out there right now; I honestly believe that if Marilyn Manson was starting out today, this would more than likely be the sound we’d get from him. Throughout the course of Anti-Icon
, the album so righteously embraces the dense, nightmarishly oppressive industrial aesthetics Manson’s earlier works are so well known for. Ergo, for all intents and purposes, it’s hard for me to shake the thought that Brian Warner might well have approached it this way if he was starting out again in the contemporary confines of this non-regional landscape music currently finds itself in. Of course, there’s a little bit more to it than simply basing Anti-Icon
’s foundations on what Antichrist Superstar
did twenty-four years ago, because in truth, it would be grossly myopic of me to conclude that Ghostemane based his sound on just one of his venerable icons. What I am getting at though, is Anti-Icon
successfully exhumes and greatly embodies the essence of what made Antichrist
so successful, whilst making it very much modern sounding.
However, the amount of experimentation being toyed with here seems almost incidental when you look at the collective whole. If someone wrote down what Ghostemane did on paper, it would probably come across as incredibly contrived and messy. Yet, when you sit down and listen to what he is putting into practice, it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s doing something fairly unique. Granted, Anti-Icon
is far from perfect, but it gets more things right here than it does wrong. The album maintains its despondent undertones; listening to Anti-Icon
, it feels like you’re climbing into an industrial echo chamber, saturated in haunted mechanical reverb. In fact, speaking for Anti-Icon
’s production methods, reverb seems to be the main ingredient here, and it works well. Hearing Whitney’s raspy, Manson-inspired demonic hisses on “Anti-Social Masochistic Rage [ASMR]”, or the clanking acoustic guitar strumming over creaking ambient echoes in “The Winds of Change”, it really authenticates the oppressive mood and convinces you that you’re in this confined nightmare.
Sometimes Ghostemane blurs the line and gets lost in his abilities to distinguish tasteful influence with outright emulation. Ghostemane clearly has an affinity for 90s industrial music, setting his sights on Antichrist Superstar
and NIN’s The Downward Spiral
, but sometimes it becomes a little too apparent. “Hydrochloride” and “Melanchoholic”’s rumbling bass and synthetic drum snaps over Ghostemane’s screams, or “Falling Down”’s nihilistic attempts at encompassing the voided anguish of “Hurt” can sound fairly ham-fisted in execution at times. Indeed, while I'm not necessarily complaining about hearing these elements on here, because they are done well, it’s the way they’re presented as NIN or Manson worship than pragmatic ends for his own means. Another notable point is the flow of the record. The first half of the album is Ghostemane’s traditionally demented bipolar sound: trap beats, schizophrenic bursts of rap and screaming, and chuggy flourishes of guitar. By the time “The Winds of Change” enters the fray though, things turn into a much more traditional industrial metal album than one accustomed to Ghostemane. Still, the variety expected from this guy is present on the whole, and Anti-Icon
is a really enjoyable ride despite the reins being pulled on the second half. The vocal diversity is impressive, the music is spooky and menacing, and I think ultimately Anti-Icon
is a great addition to his works. If nothing else, it’s nice to see more artists taking an interest in the industrial ethos of the late 80s and early 90s. Anti-Icon
is a concise offering with plenty to offer both fans of Ghostemane and the industrial genre.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: