Sound — 10
The sound of this album is surprisingly excellent. With Richey James' incredibly disturbing lyrics, James Dean Bradfield translates them superby and turns them into absolutely great gothic tunes. The greatest part of the sound is James Dean Bradfield's guitar; in this album he gets it completely right, he knows exactly what time to put in a solo here or there and get it the right length as well as knowing when to do the hard rock rhythm aswell. It depicts the theme of the album brilliantly. Stand out tracks for sound are: 'Of Walking Abortion', 'Archives Of Pain' and the incredible 'Faster'. 5 out of 5 for sound.
Lyrics — 10
Well, how do I sum up the lyrics of the most disturbing and bleak album to ever grace the world of music? I'll try and give it a shot. It is well known that shortly after this album Richey James disappeared, and still hasn't been found, and presumed dead. This therefore means that Richey James felt exactly what he wrote, which makes him one dark fucked-up individual. Let me briefly summarise the tracks if you will. The opener, 'Yes' is an exceptional set of lyrics based on the theme of a prostitute, and the lyric 'I hurt myself to get pain out' could be a case for the best lyrics for this album. The third, 'Of Walking Abortion' is a deeply political song with the title used as a metaphor to explain that we are alienated. 'Archives Of Pain' is a truly demented song which is explaining a history of serial killers. '4st 7lb' is probably the most disturbing track on the album, a song about anorexia, but I find more disturbing because Richey James was actuall anorexic whilst writing this song. 'Mausoleum' is another cracker, and the lyric 'No birds - No birds - the sky is swollen black' is just brilliant. 'Faster' is also excellent; no words are wasted in this song as they all are used to great effect. 'Die In The Summertime' is a more personal number stressing how Richey's childhood was so much more fun than it is now. The only disappointment lyrically is 'The Intense Humming Of Evil' Which is scary as hell musically but doesn't quite match up lyrically. Quite obviously, this is the best album lyrically by a mile. So 5 out of 5 for lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
As the lyrics section was so incredibly long I decided to comment on James Dean Bradfield's voice here. I think often on this album the reviews talk about how great Richey James' lyrics are, but not even recognition on the voice of James Dean Bradfield. The voice isn't incredible but it isn't meant to be; James Bradfield tries to make it as distorted as possible to match with the dark theme of the album. I also credit James Dean Bradfield with the vocal cartwheels he had to endure due to Richey James' abstractly structured lyrics. He manged this terrifically. Well, I have said pretty much all I wanted above, but this is the most bleak, depressing dark album ever - there is no doubt about that. (People who are thinking Joy Division-Closer are wrong.) Personally this is my favourite album, but for many it won't be because they cannot take the bottle to listen to all of it - mainly because it is so dark. But this is reality - life mostly is dark, life is mostly depressing. The Manics have taken the reality of life to the extreme, and boy has it made an effect on me and so many other people. This album changed my life, it could well change yours too. Don't knock it until you endure it.