"There's so much censorship in America now, because of last year and entertainment being blamed for violence. So I've made the most violent and offensive album that I could muster up."
November 13, 2000
Marilyn Manson's 4th studio album and the last in the 'Tryptic' conceptual trilogy also comprising Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. This album blends the heavy sound of Antichrist with the melodies of Mechanical Animals and contains some of Manson's most shrewd political commentary.
- Marilyn Manson as Mercury (vocals, guitar, flute, piano, pianette, electric harpsichord, Mellotron, keyboards, synthesized bass, syncussion)
- Twiggy Ramirez (guitar, keyboards, bass)
- John 5 (acoustic, electric, slide & synthesized guitars)
- M.W. Gacy (Mellotron, keyboards, synthesizer, synthesized bass, samples)
- Ginger Fish (drums, loops)
A: In the Shadow
- Godeatgod (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Manson)
- The Love Song (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
- The Fight Song (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5)
- Disposable Teens (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5, Ramirez)
D: The Androgyne
- Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis) (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
- "President Dead" (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5, Gacy)
- In the Shadow of the Valley of Death (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
- Cruci-fiction in Space (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5, Gacy)
- A Place in the Dirt (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5)
A: Of Red Earth
- The Nobodies (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5, Manson)
- The Death Song (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5, Manson)
- Lamb of God (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez)
- Born Again (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
- Burning Flag (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
M: The Fallen
- Coma Black a) Eden Eye (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Manson, 5, Ramirez) b) Apple of Discord (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Manson)
- Valentine's Day (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Manson)
- The Fall of Adam (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, 5)
- King Kill 33" (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez)
- Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing (Lyrics: Manson; Music: 5)
History and message of the album
With this album, Manson completes his conceptual trilogy by telling us how it began. The 'character' of Mercury, who is very autobiographical, begins in 'Death Valley', but aspires to be part of 'Holy Wood', where everything is seen to be perfect. He spends his whole life trying to fit into the ideal of the world of Mechanical Animals, then realises that the people in Holy Wood are the people who trampled on him before. He decides to stir up a revolution, but it becomes a product (Mechanical Animals telling that story), and he realises that the only way to end it is to destroy himself (Antichrist Superstar.)
Holy Wood tells the story of the people in Death Valley at the beginning of the saga. It relies heavily on the assassination of Kennedy and the events of 1969, which Manson sees as the death of a generation. He draws a parallel with the Columbine shootings of 1999, saying that a similar death took place there.
Throughout the album, influences from Fight Club are obvious ('You'll never grow up to be a big rock star / celebrated victim of your fame'), and Manson sees this album as an open declaration of war. He has gone as far as to say 'If you don't want to hurt anybody after listening to the entire record, I think you can take it back for a refund.'
The album begins and ends with the sound of a gun going off, suggesting to us that however much Manson, or anybody else rages, there will be no change. The fact that the tour for this album was called 'Guns, God and the Government' is no coincidence. From the samples of gunshots to the lyrics of the songs and the cover art, these are the main themes of the album. Manson's attitude to God appears to have changed, though. He now says that he is able to appreciate the story, even celebrate it, but 'not in the way that he was taught to'.
The album also talks a lot about evolution. Apparently, Manson is exploring where evolution will go next, under the premise that man is destined to destroy himself.
Musically, Manson sees this as the band's White Album, after the Beatles LP. A glance at the instruments played by each member of the band shows that they were not afraid to be experimental. It is a testament to the fact that this lineup is as strong as it has ever been that the experimentation works to great effect. (Is it any coincidence that the White Album was released in 1968?)
Like the other two albums in the 'Tryptic' series, this comes in a jewel case covered by a cardboard slip. On the front is a rather disturbing picture of Manson nailed to a cross. Apparently, he wanted to show the violence of Christ's crucifixion. His jaw has been removed as a symbol of the censorship rife in today's entertainment industry.
The liner to the album is a fold-out booklet. When we fold it out, the first thing we see are parodied tarot cards satirising America ('Justice' is a king on a throne in front of an upside-down American flag, holding a gun in his right hand, and scales in his left, weighing a brain against a Bible.) These are interspersed with various astrological diagrams, which appear to have had some influence on the album ('Mercury' being the main character's name, for instance.)
On the other side are pictures of the band members along with pictures representing the Tetragrammaton, the crucifixion, the assassination of Kennedy, a perception of the universe, and a bizarre diagram combining a diagram of the eye with religious paraphenalia. On the top and bottom are the song lyrics.
The CD itself has the astrological symbol for Mercury on it.
The album begins on a slow, melancholy note as Manson introduces some of the main themes of the album; how the assassination of Kennedy has almost replaced the crucifixion of Christ, the censorship of 'dangerous' art in America, and the mock-paradise created by Hollywood.
- The Love Song
This song tells the story of a love affair between a bullet and a pistol, and introduces the concept of 'guns, God and the Government' with a heavy chorus reminding us what rock music should be like, instead of the nu-metal scene which Manson sees as mediocre. This song includes a sample of people talking about Jack Ruby's killing of Oswald, saying that 'he should have suffered longer.'
- The Fight Song
The Fight Song is about Mercury discovering what the world of Holy Wood is really like and rejecting it. Its influences from Fight Club are immediately obvious, and this is one of the better-known songs on the album. The lines 'And when we were good / You just closed your eyes / So when we are bad / we'll scar your minds' seem to draw a parallel between 1969 and 1999 and the differences between the two generations.
- Disposable Teens
Disposable Teens can be seen as the archetypal Marilyn Manson song, with its industrial sounds, pounding chorus, and incredible lyrics. Manson is talking about how people too young to vote are seen as disposable, a theme that comes up a lot throughout the album.
- Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)
My personal favourite track on the album, this deals with the censorship promoted by the Christian right and their hypocrisy in putting a happy face on everything ('Your Sunday smiles are rusty nails.') It's the voice of someone who is powerless to change anything. The chainsaw-led chorus to this song is unforgettable.
- "President Dead"
Despite the title's obvious reference to Kennedy, this song appears to be more about the violence promoted in America and the meaningless existence of its citizens: 'Every night we are nailed into place and / every night we just can't seem to / remember the reason why'
- In the Shadow of the Valley of Death
Musically, this is a brief departure from the pounding sounds of the last five songs. Lyrically, however, the message does not let up for a moment. The song continues the themes of meaningless lives and the despair felt by Mercury as he looks around him. The screams in the background are disturbing, to say the least.
- Cruci-fiction in Space
This is a song with a repetitive, almost oppressive, background talking about evolution and how man is actually going backwards rather than progressing.
- A Place in the Dirt
With this song, Manson evokes the feeling of a desert. It talks about how every revolution becomes a product: 'put me in the motorcade' and how religion is used as an excuse to quash independent thought: 'now we hold the "ugly head" / the Mary whore is at the bed / They've cast a shadow of our perfect death / in the sun and in the dirt.'
- The Nobodies
One of the best-known songs on the album, this was inspired by the killings at Columbine High School, but also by Manson's feelings during his youth of being worthless. This aong explores the way that television overrules everything else and the bastardisation of religion: 'Some children died the other day / we fed machines and then we prayed / puked up and down in morbid faith / you should have seen the ratings that day.'
- The Death Song
This song appears to parody popular music with its bizarre, upbeat sound coupled with its lyrics which are full of despair. Manson seems to be calling the youth of today to arms, because they have the power to change the world, whereas he doesn't.
- Lamb of God
This is Manson's homage to John Lennon, a character who influenced him greatly in his youth. It continues the theme of the television having the power to create gods and the hypocrisy of the American Government in calling murders of Americans 'tragedy,' but ignoring deaths brought about by its secret wars ('if you die when there's no one watching')
- Born Again
Born Again is Manson's reply to the Christian right who try to censor him, but more importantly, who try to homogenize everything. The lines 'I'll be born again / I'm someone else / I'm someone new / I'm someone stupid just like you' are among the most memorable on the album.
- Burning Flag
This song explores the indoctrination found throughout America, along with the trend towards 'dumbing down' and creating products out of any independent thought expressed. Mercury's pithy ending 'You can point a gun at me / and hope it will go away / but if God was alive / he would hate you anyway' is striking and full of truth.
- Coma Black
This is the song of one who cannot find anything left to live for, after everything has been made the same or destroyed by Holy Wood, and a very good summary of Mercury's thoughts as we come to the end of the album.
- Valentine's Day
A difficult song to analyse, this appears to be about the despair felt by Mercury and the double standards of the Government.
- The Fall of Adam
This is, without doubt, about the death of Kennedy and its creation as a piece of film, but also about how history has repeated itself with the media buzz surrounding Columbine.
- King Kill 33"
This is about Mercury's anger at the people he sees around him, who have been raised not to think, but simply to follow, and how he wants to effect a revolution.
- Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing)
The album's final song is full of despair and the realisation that a revolution is nigh-on impossible. It ends, as the album began, with the sound of a gun, telling us that despite all this rage, nothing has been accomplished.
My thoughts on the album
In my opinion, this is the best Marilyn Manson album yet. Combining the angry sound of Antichrist Superstar with the melodies of Mechanical Animals, and containing Manson's most politically astute lyrics, this is an album I would recommend to most.
Manson has channelled his rage to create an album with the continuity of ideas found in Antichrist, but maintaining the musical excellence found in Mechanical Animals. This may well be the pinnacle of the band's achievement - their White Album.
With thanks to:
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