This is Marilyn Manson’s breakthrough album. This is the record that made them a household name for those that loved them and those that hated them. It is on of their best and most ambitious albums to date. All the songs are great, the music is awesome and the lyrics are epic. It’s as if the band got everything right on this record and decided to be larger than life.
When listening to this album for the first time, it sounds like an angry, aggressive record with loud guitars to the point that the lyrics don’t matter. Well, there is aggression and anger and there certainly are loud guitars, but Manson is not just complaining about how no one understands him and why life sucks. There is thought and passion behind the lyrics. “The Beautiful People,” the album’s most popular song, is a comment on people society seems to favor and how they reject others who don’t follow or look like them. It’s the song that made the band popular and definitely one of their best. With its harsh simple guitar riff and snarling lyrics, the song is a classic.
Another song with a message behind it is “Mister Superstar.” It seems to be about the extreme adoration of fans who begin to treat and worship people like a god. The protagonist in the song then regrets his new found fame. The downside may be that the message of some of these songs and even the overarching story of the whole album can be easy to miss due the aggressive and awesome music. Even though a listener may not get the story after one or two tries, there are easy connections to make between the songs, such as the same lyrics being used for different tracks and the same characters in throughout.
Speaking of the songs, all of them are out of this world. Everything about the tracks are fantastic. Songs like “Dried Up, Tied, and Dead to the World,” “Demography,” and “Anti-Christ Superstar” are great, aggressive tracks with harsh music and gruesome, dark lyrics. You either get lost in the wild guitar riffs or the cryptic lyrics of Mr. Manson. Though there isn’t a bad song to be found, there are some that are just better than the others. One of these has to be “Tourniquet.” The bass line during the intro sets the dark mood, while the guitar drones on. Oddly enough, the guitar riff reminds me of a tune you would hear during a porno….a creepy porno. With lines like “I wrapped our in all this foil/silver tight like spider legs” and “I never wanted it to end like this/but flies will lay their eggs” the song is definitely creepy.
“Kinderfeld” is another awesome song that isn’t as aggressive as the other tracks. It begins with this heavy thudding and an evil laugh from what I guess is a scary clown. It’s really cool and emphasizes the setting for the song. The vocals are also great here. Manson sings so low it sounds like it comes from the bowels of hell, while other times he sings high enough where he sounds like an injured child. The song has a creepy undertone when you learn how it was inspired by Manson’s grandfather Jack, who would turn on trains in the basement while he was masturbating to porn. Probably the best part of the song is when he plays the pan flute. Something about it is unexpected, yet nerve wrecking, like you’re expecting something bad coming your way.
Another thing that makes the songs great is how Manson can easily convey emotions he is trying to get across. It’s easy to feel the violence, hatred, and anger in “The Reflecting God.” Just the thudding music, especially during the chorus make it sound like the end is nigh, but on the flip side you can feel the vulnerability and blame in “Man that you Fear.” He manages to sound spiteful but hurt at the same time, like he hates that everyone fears him, but he wants to get revenge as well. Even though this is a mostly aggressive album, there are hints of what else the band and the frontman can do. One song that shows this is “Minute of Decay.” It’s the first soft number on the album and here Manson sounds vulnerable and hurt. He also sings for most of the track instead of screaming. With the slow, heavy music, the distorted vocals and the overall quiet tone of the song, it’s really depressing. Manson even said he broke out in tears when recording it and when you listen to it, it’s not that hard to picture.
This record also has great ambiance. It’s definitely something fans could be fearful to approach, yet intrigued by at the same time. This record goes along with Manson’s look and persona during this era: he looked scary, so the music sounds scary. Weird sounds, backwards chanting, and weird music that makes you wonder how it was done fill the album and helps it achieve this weird, creepy, and harsh tone. One of the creepiest songs is “Cryptochid.” The music is just so weird sounding you can’t even make out what instruments are playing. You just sit there wondering how they achieved these eerie sounds. This song is so creepy with the high pitched under water vocals, yet it’s one of the most interesting ones here. Every element helps to achieve this, from the music to the lyrics and even to the way he is singing. This track still manages to creep me out today.
Overall, this album ranks 9.5/10. This is the band’s darkest and most harsh album in their discography, but it also might be their greatest. It is a shift away from the playful, drug induced sound found on their first album,with the songs being heavy and harsh. They also seem take more influence from industrial rock, which makes sense Trent Reznor worked on the record. There’s also more of a focus here that seemed to be lacking with their first album and the band also proves that they are not all about their appearance. They make some damn good music also.