Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar (1996)Release ID: 1680
Marilyn Manson is not a band/artist that should be underestimated. With aesthetics and themes of cross-dressing, anti-Christianity, cabalism, elitism, and horror, I wouldn't expect a lot of people close to me to ever be up for such scalding concepts. But hey, whether this material can be considered moral or not, you can just brush away the real haters and let your taste run free for a little bit. Marilyn Manson's second album Antichrist Superstar is a concept album of dark desire! Not pretty, but pretty great...
Fake gore and real emotion is blended together by Manson, and helping out in the sonic production is Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. The dark vibe of the album makes it almost suitable for horror movies like The Shining or A Nightmare on Elm Street. Manson can joke along to the strong and scare away the weak.
Starting The Hierophant cycle, "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" has Manson's taunting growls, and his singing sounds so sinister. One highlight that you can truly appreciate is "The Beautiful People". Then "Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World" that sounds a bit dry in the music, not really as wild as those first two tracks. Ending the first cycle is "Tourniquet" which is OK, but let's hope for some more madness in the cycle...
Inauguration of the Worm begins with the heavy "Little Horn". Then "Cryptorchid" nicely interrupts the buildup by slowing down. We rock on to "Deformography" and Manson's fear-inducing whispers and shouts, "You're such a dirty, dirty rock star... I am the one you want". He shows that nightmares are what all people need, whether polite or angry. "Wormboy" once again kicks things up a notch. "Mister Superstar" starts soft being adding in some Skrew-like industrial. "Angel with the Scabbed Wings" is so good. If only that was a single! "Kinderfeld" ends the second cycle with wonderful industrial beauty.
At the start of the Disintegrator Rising cycle, the title track will make sure you want the album to keep going as long as you like. A captivating song, "1996" can turn the fearful tension into joy. "Minute of Decay" sounds too much like a Linkin Park "reanimation" than anything metal. "The Reflecting God" is honestly quite omnipotent. It describes a dream within a dream more than Inception could, but "you'll understand when I'm dead". Finally, "Man That You Fear" is enjoyable but not as much the previous track. I'm getting a bit tired of haunting repeated line, "When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed." The hidden track that appears after 82 silent tracks, "Track 99" is rather pointless. Just drop the album after the final full track and run.
Despite the music not having as much weight as it had on paper, you can find a bit of great grandeur in this industrial mix of the early metal of Black Sabbath, the operatic arrangements of Queen, and the chilling experimentation of Bauhaus. Manson brought together with him guitarists Daisy Berkowitz (RIP) and Twiggy Ramirez (also on bass), Madonna Wayne Gacy on keyboards, and Ginger Fish on drums to make a dark army with a pounding sound. The band, together with Reznor and Skinny Puppy's Dave Ogilvie, produced the album quiet well. With choirs, growls, and synths added to the mix, it's a party that I can leave if I want to, but more often than not, makes me wanna stay....
Favorites: "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", "The Beautiful People", "Little Horn", "Deformography", "Angel with the Scabbed Wings", "Kinderfeld", "Antichrist Superstar", "The Reflecting God"
I’ve gotta say, I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Back in the day ( the 1990s), I wrote Marilyn Manson off pretty quickly. They were coming from the Nine Inch Nails camp, as opposed to the Ministry camp (i.e. my team), and I just didn’t like a lot of the aesthetics involved. I thought old Brian Hugh Warner took himself a little too seriously (and the story about the rib removal, well...) But anyway, fast forward to 2020 and I gave “Antichrist Superstar” a chance, not worrying about any of the minutiae that dissuaded me in the past, and just listened. What I realized is this stuff isn’t supposed to be taken that seriously. Or maybe a better way to put it is that it’s not music to put you in a dark place. This record is supposed to be, and for the most part is, pretty damn FUN. Yes, the lyrics are over the top and purposely offensive (an N-Bomb is dropped within the first two minutes) but the music is poppy as hell, and in a good way. The sound is similar to a lot of the heavier alternative rock of the period, but the slutty, hedonistic vibe differentiates MM from their contemporaries. The theatrical aspect makes the music simultaneously more artificial and more entertaining. This music isn’t deep, but it’s cool the way a good stupid horror movie is cool.
It goes without saying there is a huge Glam influence at play here, particularly inspired by Alice Cooper and David Bowie. The former is evident in the vocals. Mr. Manson does a pretty damn good Alice, especially on “Tourniquet,” which has a super catchy guitar riff and chorus which has been getting stuck in my head lately (not a bad thing). The Bowie influence is most evident on the album format and structure. It’s a concept album, but instead of Ziggy Stardust, it’s the Antichrist. The fact that the lyrics go back to being about the same guy/thing ties everything together nicely.
One of the things that I can’t help but focus on with Industrial Metal records is the production. It sounds like the band had a huge budget for “Antichrist Superstar” and they had a lot of fun with it, and I love that. Every track has different effects, different panning etc. which makes the listening experience quite grandiose So why only 3 1/2 stars and not more? Well, like I said, this is bubble gum metal, no more, no less. I enjoy listening to it but I don’t think I’d need it on a desert island. And, as is so often the case with good-but-not-great records, there are a few too many songs. This is basically a double album, so they could have easily dropped the five weakest tracks and still have had a complete LP. Whatever. To wrap it up, I’d have to say my favorite part is the double-header of “1996” and “Minute of Decay.” The latter is a moody piece was a really cool, drowsey bass line. The former a super-anthem that would probably kill live. It also includes the lyric “I am the faggot Anti-Pope, ” and I can’t help but smile at that. Not sure if I’d go as far as to say I’m a Marilyn Manson fan, but I definitely appreciate them more than I did, and I think I “get it” now.