Portrait Of An American Family Review

artist: marilyn manson date: 11/22/2012 category: compact discs
marilyn manson: Portrait Of An American Family
Released: Jul 12, 1994
Genre: Alternative Rock, Industrial Rock, Industrial Metal
Label: Nothing, Interscope
Number Of Tracks: 13
"Portrait Of An American Family" is the debut full-length studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson.
 Overall Impression: 8
 Sound: 7.8
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall rating:
 8.6 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.3 
 Users rating:
 8.8 
 Votes:
 26 
reviews (5) 7 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Portrait Of An American Family Reviewed by: UG Team, on july 31, 2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Overall Impression: "Portrait Of An American Family" was, of course, Manson's first album. Unlike his other ones, past Portrait, this collection doesn't rely on synthesizers and warped guitar distortians to sound weird and different. Starting with the first track. What genius! The monologue from "Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory" (when they're in the boat going thru the tunnel) with a chorus of people screaming "Faster, Faster!" louder and louder. It begins on such a low level of volume that you almost have to lean in to the speakers to actually hear it. It almost makes me want to put this album on in synch with the "Willy Wonka" movie, just to see the similarities. And then he hits you with the song "Cake and Sodomy," "Wrapped In Plastic," and "My Monkey." My favorite points on the album are in the beginning and the end. The middle still has merit but not as much moxy as does the extreme sides. That little girl in the very beginning of "Lunchbox" is great! "Next motherfucker is going to get my metal!" That fits rather well when the song talks about how Manson wants to grow up to be a rock star so that nobody fucks with him. Something tells me that this album has a little bit of truth and insite to the younger Brian that used to be and what he went through. Shifting a whole album later, track 13 "Misery Machine" is an almost fare-well to the listener. Odd how that's the only way I can explain that last track. However, I think it's great, a bit of sarcastic humor on Manson's part, how he added an answering machine message from a rather irrate women at the very end. You have to wait almost 6 and 1/2 minutes before it shows up but it's worth it. I can't tell whether the message is fake and was just recorded for the grins of the album or if it's a genuine message from a parent that doesn't approve of their antics (somehow I would not be surprised if that were the case). Not to hit exclusively on the lyrics or the arrangements, the music itself is great. "Dope Hat" has an infectous bass and drum beat that has me going every time I hear it. The same goes for "Get Your Gunn." If you're a fan of Manson and you enjoy his other works (by the way, I'm writing this review years after this album was released), then you'll hear some Manson-isms written in the song. I'll explain. The song "Antichrist Superstar" (from 1996 album "Antichrist Superstar") reflects the style and beat of "Sweet Tooth," not identically but just enough to be recognizable. "Portrait Of An American Family" is a great album to listen to all the way through, and I don't say that about many albums. This one is definately an exception. Go buy It!!! // 10

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overall: 7
Portrait Of An American Family Reviewed by: Goldie Bush, on november 22, 2012
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Welcome to my review of "Portrait Of An American Family" by Marilyn Manson. Track by track: 01. "Prelude (The Family Trip)" - The album starts of in a wet drippy atmosphere with with Manson croaking the Willy Wonka Chocolate River Boat Speech. Kinda cheesy. But this is early Marilyn Manson. The music hadn't evolved into "Antichrist Superstar"'s dark deep and dead serious tone yet. It builds up in intensity until Manson says "Stop the Boat"! Then we hear the drum beat of the next song. "Cake And Sodomy". 02. "Cake And Sodomy" - It starts out with Sara Lee laying down an interesting drum beat and then the highly underrated Gidget Gein comes in with his rolling bass line. All while we hear a recording of what sounds like a woman being sodomized... Classy. The wailing of Daisy's guitar lingers in the background for a few seconds and then Manson proclaims that he IS in fact, "the God of f--k". They take off into a heavy but subtle guitar riff by Daisy while Manson screams over it. They compliment eachother quite nicely. Around the two minute mark we once again hear the "God of f--k" proclamation and then we hear the first hint that Daisy Berkowitz has unmatched originality and style. For the early 90s anyway. The guitar solo to this song is so weird and trippy. Akin to Frank Zappa. 03. "Lunchbox" - Ugh... Here we go... Get ready for the biggest ego trip on the album. The lyrics are meaningless and shallow. Not a good thing since the guitars and bass by Daisy and Gidget are probably the best on the whole album. The brilliant instruments are interrupted by repetitive and boring vocals in this song. The bass lines could create an entire song of their own and Daisy, as usual is throwing his ever so crazy and corky string bends over them. I've always thought of Daisy's guitar as being a drunk woman on a merry-go-round having an orgasm. This is also the first track on the album where you realize that the band has a keyboard player. So I guess you could call this song "mostly good". 04. "Organ Grinder" - I would call this song filler at first listen. I would also call this song filler now. Like that last sentence. And this one. It's not a bad song. It's just... There. Nothing really special about it. It's good and enjoyable once a year I suppose. I once again like Gidget and Daisy's work. Pogo(Madonna Wayne Gacy) lays down some creepy bells on this one. Nothing too special though. Moving on. 05. "Cyclops" - Oh good. A song I like. Here we go, What could arguably be the heaviest song on the album... Let me make something clear before we move on. I'm not the type of idiot that thinks. "The heavier the better." I'm the type of idiot that thinks "Loud distortion and high gain are both small parts of being a heavy musician. But it's the correct orchestration and feeling that creates true heaviness". So when I say something is heavy it's not necessarily a compliment but more of an observation. Anyway. We hear the low voice saying "God is in his Holy Temple" and god knows why they decided to go with that one. In the original version it's the voice saying "We are all evil inside" and in my opinion, it fits the song better. The low voice is accompanied by some melodic strums by Daisy. This song is by modern standards a giant "breakdown". If I had anything else bad to say about this song it's the solo... Just listen to it. It's horrible and I can't believe that Daisy himself let it be put on the album. 06. "Dope Hat" - This is a good song... On everyone's part. The bass the guitar the keys and drums and vocals are all perfect. It's got kind of a silly creepy vibe to it. Daisy's originality in sound and style comes out in this song. From the bouncy main riff to the fuzzy solos. That's right. Marilyn Manson used to have guitar solos. Can you believe that? The Music Video made for this song is worth watching. The imagery compliments the sound well. As with most of Manson's work. This song truly IS like riding on an LSD induced row boat down a chocolate river with a bunch of mentally unstable bi sexual drug addicts. 07. "Get Your Gunn" - Bleh... Here's another song I don't care for. The vocals seem awkward and forced. Not natural. The instruments and the vocals don't fit together well in this one. It's... Bleak. I don't even like talking about this song. The instruments aren't bad. They could use some work though. They should have spent more time on this song. The lyrics are good I guess. But lyrics have very little to do with how good a song sounds. If you put the lyrics of "The Beautiful People" to polka music it wouldn't have the same meaning or feel would it? Nope. So lyrics rarely ever save a song from being terrible. But this song isn't terrible. It's annoying 08. "Wrapped In Plastic" - Oh HELL yes! This song kicks so much a-s. Once again and again Gidget and Daisy show amazing musicianship, chemistry, and fluidity. At first we hear Sara and Gidget laying down the blueprint of this masterpiece. Things soon quicken as Daisy comes in with his funk punk and Manson starts pouring out a childish yet brilliant and poetic song about covering your living room furniture in plastic to keep the dirt off. 09. "Dogma" - This song is about burning witches.. And it has a decent breakdown. Of course the bass and guitar work are amazing. All through the song Daisy's wailing is overdubbed in the background. Can't really say much about this song... It's a good song. Just the kind of thing you mosh to. ANNNNNY WHOOOOO... Moving on... 10. "Sweet Tooth" - At last. The best song of the album. That's not up for debate. This IS the best damn song of the whole record. Just for one reason. The Angus Young inspired riff. If Manson sang for AC/DC, this is what it would sound like. The chorus the so catchy. You could totally do the goth dance from "South Park" to this song. The kind of song you Flail instead of Mosh to. Gidget proves himself a true artist in Sweet Tooth seeing as he wrote both the Bass and all of the guitar parts. You are truly missed. Only one thing I don't like about this song. The strobe effect on Manson's voice during parts of it. I'm not sure what they were going for there. But it's not completely horrible. 11. "Snake Eyes And Sissies" - I can't say that this song deserves much attention. Any song in which the singer throws in 7 "yeahs" in a row shows that they didn't care about the song enough to put more work into it. "Yeahs" are filler... It starts out with an audio recording of an interview with Richard Ramirez spouting out some pretentious pseudo philosophical bullsh-t that amounts to nothing. "Killing is killing weather done for duty, profit, or fun..." Yeah... F--k you Richard Ramirez. Anyway... This song is almost filler. Worth ONE listen. 12. "My Monkey" - I seem to be the only Manson fan who likes this song anymore... Which isn't a big deal since, as a Manson fan I am a part of a very small group of "THEOL" ("The High End Of Low") survivors. Daisy confesses to writing the guitars to this song while on his first Acid Trip. Which personally I don't believe helped one bit. Creating something trippy or weird doesn't require being on hallucinogens. I should know. The kid from the "Lunchbox" video (Robert Pierce) does some of the vocals on it too. He does a pretty damn good job. So props to the kid. 13. "Misery Machine" - At last. The Epic Conclusion. Epic it is. Also a sad song. Because it's the last song done by the group that would imply that they had a good bass player. It's also the part where I get pissed off that Gidget didn't get due credit for his work on this album. The Album Booklet show no pictures of him but instead we get pictures of Twiggy Ramirez. An inferior musician to Gidget. He's also falsely credited in the "Starring" section of the booklet even though he had NOTHING to do with the making of any of this music... I'll stop there. You can read more about my hatred toward this poser impostor in my next review. "Antichrist Superstar". // 7

Lyrics: Manson's vocal style, lyrical subject, and atmosphere fit the music of this album quite well. With a few exceptions of course as mentioned above. The "Electric Fuzz Scream" As I like to call it hadn't fully come into being at this point in the band's career. But it gives subtle hints here and there of what is to come in later works. Remember this is the band's first studio album. Mistakes and inconsistencies are to be expected. I think Trent Reznor was kind of lazy on this one when it came to pushing Manson to do better. TO sum it up into one word. Primitive. // 7

Overall Impression: So, Does this album stand up well on it's own today? No. I'd have to say that by modern standards this is a pretty weak album. An acquired taste. I like this album for more personal reasons that only a few could relate to. But this album is also unique. In a weird way this album can't really be compared to anything else because frankly there's nothing else like it. As a musician I respect this album but admit that it has flaws on everyone's part. It could possibly be one of those records that go down in history as one of the rare and lesser known gems. // 7

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overall: 8.3
Portrait Of An American Family Reviewed by: guitaluva17, on january 23, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Marilyn Manson was straight up metal on this album (with some industrial mixed in). This was the first Marilyn Manson CD and one of the best. Not to mention, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails produced it. This album is very unique. It starts with a scene from Willy Wonka and ends with an angry parent leaving a message on an answering machine. It sounds similiar to his Antichrist Superstar album, but is still different. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album can be both playful but dark and violent at the same time. The song My Monkey have a playful kind of attitude but was written by Charles Manson. Dope Hat also has a playful sound to it, but the lyrics aren't exactly about fun stuff. Then there's songs like Cake and Sodomy and Get Your Gunn which are loud, violent, and right in your face! When the music quiet, Manson's voice is quiet, but when the instruments are ragin', so is his voice. Manson might not be the greatest singer in the world, but he gets out all gis emotions and feelings though it. // 9

Overall Impression: This album sounds a little similar to NIN, but olny because Trent Reznor produced it. The best songs on the album are Wrapped In Plastic, Get Your Gunn, and Lunchbox. If you've never heard Manson's music before, you might not like this album. So for the Manson virgins out there, try listening to Mechanical Animals. There's not much I hate about it, except listening to the last few song which I sometimes get bored of. If it was lost or stolen, I would buy it again within a week or two. // 8

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overall: 7.7
Portrait Of An American Family Reviewed by: ironmanben, on august 21, 2009
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Sound: Marilyn Manson trades his darker, more gothic style for a more cartoonish and kooky one in this album, notably his first. Songs like Dope Hat may seem innocent at first glance, with audio clips from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an interestingly "bouncy" tempo, but after a good hard listen, a darker, more drug-related meaning reveals it's self. (But what can you expect from a song called "Dope Hat"? ) As Marilyn Manson's first album, his style is not quite set yet. Gidget Gein and Sara Lee Lucas also appear on this album, making POAFF unique in terms of band members. One person I have to give credit to is Madonna Wayne Gacy/Pogo, because his keyboard playing stands out on POAFF more than any other album, even performing sythesized brass riffs during My Monkey. This sounds like something the band recorded in their basement for fun, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many of the non-singles are every bit as good as the singles, I might add. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics aren't as serious as in future releases, but some seem like previews of what is to come, for example, Cake and Sodomy or Get Your Gunn, both of which deliver strong messages of the injustice and poor shape of American society. In some songs, the lyrics, are darker and more sinister, for example, Wrapped in Plastic. In songs like Dope Hat and Get Your Gunn, the instrumental part adds to the sinister and creepy feeling of the song. You can hear the influence of bands like Black Sabbath here, especailly on tracks like Misery Machine. Marilyn Manson is no opera singer, but his voice is unique, as well as his singing style. Basically, he screams his head off into a microphone. But it works. // 8

Overall Impression: POAFF is one of the most unique metal albums I have ever listened to. I prefer his newer releases, but this is no doubt an interesting listen for a Manson fan. My favorite songs off the album are Dope Hat, Lunchbox, Cake and Sodomy, and Misery Machine. I heard somewhere that Snake Eyes and Sissies was originally intended to be a single. It didn't stand out much for me, really, and a better choice would've been Cake and Sodomy, which I think is better than even Get Your Gunn. My least favorite tracks were Sweet Tooth and Cyclops, which I just didn't think sounded quite like Mr. Manson in terms of lyrics, and definetly didn't stand up to other songs on the disc. If it were lost/stolen, I would buy it again as soon as possible. // 7

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overall: 8.3
Portrait Of An American Family Reviewed by: aaronmcm99, on june 04, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: There's not a lot to say about Marilyn Manson that my previous reviews haven't covered, but this is his first album once he lost the spooky kids from the title, and is a great way to make an impression. The man himself will say he is trying to get a message across through his lyrics, which are political and a kick in the crotch to religous zealouts and presedential figures. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics haven't there effect as they did in say Antichrist but still poetic, with enough co operation with the music to make it sound good, Manson has a truly, memorable and unique voice which is genuinely great, and very appropriate to the type of music, they go well hand and hand with each other. // 9

Overall Impression: I thought the album wasn't his best but still very good its well worth a buy, the best song hands down is "Lunchbox" which is very energetic and in general a great song the album isn't perfect but nonetheless very enjoyable to listen to so I don't see a reason not to buy it so go out and get it! // 8

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