Sound — 8
Welcome to my review of "Antichrist Superstar" by Marilyn Manson. Let me start with a personal Thank You to all who were involved with the making of an album that saved my generation and I from an otherwise sensory deprived teen hood. This album taught me how to feel, play music, create, and above all, think. Alright before we jump into this review let's look at how things have changed in the band lineup since "Portrait". Sara Lee Lucas and Gidget Gein are both long gone and have been replaced by Ginger Fish and Twiggy Ramirez. Many changes and controversies have happened since "Portrait". The EP "Smells Like Children" was released a year before (1995) and brought us the famous "Sweet Dreams". There are lots of strange stories that loom behind the Smells Like Children Tour and the making of "Antichrist Superstar". Plenty of drug use, drug overuse, some enemies become friends some friends become enemies, back stabs, screw overs, over screws, betrayals, and all sorts of shenanigans. All of which can be read about in great detail weekly on Daisy's Facebook page. So let us embark on this dark journey. Walk with me through the 17 rings of hell this tragic masterpiece offers. Remember this is a concept album. Some call it a rock opera. A worthy title. It's set into 3 acts. In this case they're called cycles. Appropriate since listening to this album is more of an ordeal or an event than just a casual listen. Track-by-Track: Cycle I: The Heirophant 01. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem": The chanting of thousands of rabid and overcharged audience members leads us into the epic intro. We Hate Love. We Love Hate. We're thrown into an evil circus like riff written by Daisy and are forced through the event horizon that is the entrance to the album. You realize very soon how much the sound and subject have changed. Any silliness or satire that once was, has been completely wiped off by this song. Instead we get what could arguably be the heaviest sound for its time. If you read my definition of the highly misunderstood word Heavy in my last review. Manson and the Band have become Dark Lords and have unlocked a new power. The guitars are high in gain and Daisy let's the feedback linger over most of the song where there are no guitar parts... The Signature Daisy sound by this point. The bass is identical to the main riffs. Kind of a letdown considering the bass work on "Portrait". Manson and Daisy are to blame for this song being any good. The music goes by in a flash and before we have time to recover from ear exhaustion we're lead by a blurred vision of a million devil army marching straight into the main anthem. "The Beautiful People". 02. "The Beautiful People": After a descending guitar harmonic wail we hear what is Twiggy's first contribution to the band's music. And I must humble myself in saying that's it very good. He really understands the concept and what it takes to create a War Song. If I were going to war. This would be the soundtrack I would choose to fight to. With this song, he brings on a truly megalithic and destructive atmosphere to the music. A simple but powerful riff laced with a swing feel. In the demo version the swing feel I described is more noticeable. Here we also sense the changes that have happened in Manson's voice. The Electric Fuzz Scream has been born. Ginger has crafted a beat fit only for the violent stomps of combat boots worn by the industrial dancer. We also get to hear Pogo's musicianship come to life for the first time. And he does so in an intense but subtle manner. By the abrupt end of this ferocious battle, eargasm has gone into full swing and we need a cool down. One comes about as the next song withers into being. 03. "Dried Up, Tied, And Dead To The World": After much chaos we're presented with a simple E Chord overdubbed with what could only be described as the voice of Baphomet greeting us at the dark, quiet, bridge to the 3rd and most disgusting ring of hell. While crossing, Pogo does a god job of laying down a complex rhythm with his new sampling skills. Twiggy brings a surprising and uncommon virtuosity in the bass to Pogo's digital drum line. Throughout they exploit what a Fuzz Pedal can do to bring out the Industrial tone. Things build and build into incoherent distortion until we reach what is likely the most brutal moment in music history. The bridge collapses under the thunder that this breakdown summons. Let any modern Hardcore/Metalcore band attempt to create something that can stand up to the granite shattering bellow that this moment lets out. And do it without down tuning. This song is in E Standard. Showing that they didn't have to resort to Dropping A to write Heavy music. The distortion could barely pass as being high. It's the correct orchestration and the right FEELING that creates true heaviness. Newer bands could take a few valuable lessons from this song. 04. "Tourniquet": Ghostly sounds whisper and loop until the unoriginal and repetitive baseline by Twiggy interrupts the nice breath of cold we're granted. Then comes the lead guitar which turns this song around. This is Daisy's Masterpiece. The desperate and fragile guitar bends gives it a peaceful and sad feel. RObert Johnson would approve. The Harmony of Dissonance. Manson sings earnestly with feeling. The band really discovered their Bluesmen side with "Tourniquet". There are rumors that the band uses the diminished 5th scale throughout this entire album. The Tritone. It was outlawed in the middle ages for having demonic qualities. So it's a cool story. But sadly it's exaggerated. While a few instances of it exist within the album, not one song uses it in it's entirety. Except for this one. And they created in a way that makes it sound not evil, but stretched, tragic, and broken. Something very rare when the diminished scale is used. Most bands go for it's natural evil sound. This song breaks the traditional barrier. Rocking back forth on our knees. The song literally dies in our arms. Cycle II: Inauguration Of The Worm 05. "Little Horn": No time to mourn. There's still a lot to endure. Little Horn. We here Twiggy's 3rd contribution as a guitar player. The Thrash inspired riff. It's heavy and nasty. It's... in Drop D... And it's the same exact chords as "The Beautiful People"... Oh... Well. Whatever let's let this one pass. This is a very good song. It's got that rolling bounciness to it. I can't really say much about this song other than describing the sound and saying that I like it. 06. "Cryptorchid": From the fire and into the icy ring we're met with Pogo's first song that belongs entirely to him. I've always appreciated Pogo's understanding of subtlety in heaviness. We never really hear him go full on crazy with his material. He offers something more sinister. "Cryptorchid" has a heart pulling pound to it. And the most intense but quiet build up and breakdown I've heard. In the middle mark the song transforms into an apocalyptic choir and warns us of the troubles and grieves that lie ahead. We hear a slow and dying heart beat that stops a few moments before the song ends. Symbolizing death of the main character of this concept album. And some cool trivia, the heart beat is the same exact beat as the "Antichrist Superstar" (song) Same with some of the lyrics. 07. "Deformography": A very underrated song in my opinion. Most musically uneducated critics and Manson fans alike will and have called this song Filler. On deeper examination it's a lot more dense than we hear at first listen. Twiggy claims his rightful place as Bass player. Pogo brings a new complexity to the industrial sound. Twiggy has been described as being a player who plays from his dick. Which according to many reputable and questionable resources, is rather large. His signature dick thump is frequent throughout. Another thing Deformography does is something that rarely ever works when most artists attempt it. Silence. That's right. To me there's nothing more intense if it's used correctly. The band has a great way of using it. Moments when the all the instruments go quiet and we only here Manson's voice faintly whispering under static. Brings a feeling of dread. Who ever said art had to be beautiful or make you feel good is a fool. 08. "Wormboy": Now entering the most erratic and possibly annoying ring of Hell. Wormboy offers discomfort, confusion, and a feeling of nausea. Always leaving me questioning whether this is a good song or not. And does a great job doing so. This is by far Daisy's worst masterpiece. Pulled right out of the rainbow colored a-s hair of Frank Zappa. But it's not about being good at this point of the main character's story. It's about being as mentally unstable as one could possibly become. In order to transform into something superior one must go through a great struggle. Transformation being the main subject of the story. 09. "Mister Superstar": We're once again greeted with the familiar sounding E Chord. But this time it's different. It's more lingering tragic E Chord. Here we get the sense of the character's epiphany and inspiration to become strong. And the gruesome and heart wrenching things one must go through to become such a being. This is reflected in powerful booms overpowering endings to the main riff. Things once again build up into scattered fuzz that nearly overstays it's welcome as the cocoon is broken and the "Antichrist Superstar" is born. 10. "Angel With The Scabbed Wings": An abrupt birthing leads into an abrupt introduction of the new character. Twiggy gives us yet again his mediocre and uncreative attempt at playing guitar. Again we have to endure his repetitive Drop D addiction. Same chords he's used on guitar throughout the album. At this point it's still acceptable. But starting to get old. But he's saved once again by someone else's doing. Danny Lohner from Nine Inch Nails lays an excellent leads on top of the nearly unacceptable riff. And from the word of Manson himself it was completely improvised. Besides the nitpicking this is a very powerful song. By foul craft Ginger has constructed another boot stomper. And Manson proves himself to have the lung capacity of a Whale. I challenge any vocalist that considers themselves to posses the ability to sustain to sing this song in it's entirety without passing out. Toward the end the dead silence takes over as the apocalyptic choir lifts up the full power of this song as Manson confronts and wails like a banshee at god himself. The main riff takes the stage again as Danny Lohner plays his last contribution on the album saving Twiggy's riff from itself. A great sustained guitar solo. He lets the notes hang until they're exhausted. Work that Twiggy will eventually take credit for. 11. Kinderfeld: The day of rest. There seems to be a pattern here. We get 2 or 3 songs of loud intensity then 1 or 2 songs of quiet intensity. This is the first Manson song I heard. I was 14 and the goth girl of the school I was trying (but failing) to have relations with handed me her portable CD player one day and it was "Kinderfeld". In a second my ignorance and all of my predetermined opinions of what I thought Marilyn Manson and Goth was were destroyed and I was enlightened and at the same time robbed of what little innocence I may have had after being around this chick for more than a month.. This is the first time I ever truly FELT music. I hope that all Manson haters can someday experience what I did. I felt something in my veins from this. This is more than just scary sounds and scary image. There's something deeper going on here. I remember thinking. It wasn't until a year later when I was able to actually buy the album. But that's another story. Surprisingly there's not much music in this song. It's very empty. It manages to become on of the most powerful tracks of the album. Once again using the power of subtlety. Cycle III: Disintegrator Rising 12. "Antichrist Superstar": One last march to inevitable and ironic defeat. Sadly this is Daisy's last full contribution to Marilyn Manson. Tensions in the studio built up to the point of a split up. Very vague details regarding the drama to none are given by both parties. In the demo version of "Antichrist" we can hear Daisy and Manson bitching at each other. The main riff mimicking the sound of the heartbeat from "Cryptochid" reeks of totalitarianism and images of dictators campaigning around the world using massive evil armies to do their bidding. Boom Boom HEY Boom Boom HEY. This song is probably the second best example of Ginger's skill at the drums. The first best being the upcoming song "Minute Of Decay". The song is so gigantic in feeling that most people don't really notice all the little things that make it so huge. Ginger is the true backbone. It's all about power at this point. From the Gut wrenching guitar riff to the eerie overdubbed robotic whispers. Whispering bits of Nietzschean philosophy behind that wall of sound. The song ends in a dead whisper by a female robot. When you're suffering. Know that, I have betrayed you. 13. "1996": Alright. Let's get honest here. I hate this song for several reasons. I'll save the biggest and most relevant for last. First problem is the gain. It's like Twiggy has the inability to play a song without overdoing the gain knob. A technique many untalented players use to hide the fact that they're in fact, untalented. Second. Twiggy is a thief. Oh YES! He stole the riff to this song directly from the empty hands of the now dead Gidget Gein. The former Bass Player of the band. But again without shame Twiggy proclaims it as his own creation in the credits to the album. Again falsely credited for someone else's work. Want proof? Find an old Manson song called "She's Not My Girlfriend". Same exact riff. And I plan to let the truth about this treachery be known. Something the traditional Manson fan would avoid. I hate this song so much that I'm not even going to say anything about the music. If you want to learn about the music to this song. Go listen to she's not my girlfriend and give respect to the person who actually DID write the music. There's a well known rule among us musicians and the artists of any other craft out there. Always respect your fellow musician/artist. And NEVER steal someone's work for your own personal gain. Lest you be excommunicated and called a poser and a thief. Moving on. 14. "Minute Of Decay": Damn. The quiet before the storm. The saddest song ever written. I'll be one to admit this song is even too dark for my taste. The vulnerable confessional vocals and lyrics coming from Manson. Who by this point has a severe case of self induced fragility over the loss of certain members and relationship struggles. In the Autobiography The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell Manson confesses to breaking into tears during the recording of this song. Much to the dismay of Trent Reznor (Producer) and Front man of the Industrial metal act Nine Inch Nails. Ginger and Twiggy carry the weakened body of the now exhausted "Antichrist Superstar" to the podium for one last speech. This is perhaps the best example of Ginger's skill. The drums are loud and full of rage. Not fast and erratic like most metal drummers have to resort to these days. Heaviness in the quiet. The storm approaches. 15. "The Reflecting God": Manson starts of in a confrontational tone as Drums and Bass come in. The Bass being in E standard looping and looping after the E# at the octave below. The guitar played by Trent Reznor comes in with a sustained fuzz complimenting the bass in a way of dissonance. Manson continues to accuse and interrogate when the guitar changes paths and becomes an E Key Killswitch at about 85 BPM. Brought up to D Chords lightly strumming over a heavy distortion quickly switching to an open A and to the High E bringing a feeling of ascension. Manson proclaims to see god as himself. And the revengeful storm hits as the once lightly strummed chords become choppy hard hitting breaks. This happens twice after the bends played by Trent are finished reloading the ammunition. Then the signature and ever so horrifying moment of silence comes about as Manson warns us of the waste that lies ahead. Soon all we hear is an Bass quickly strumming in E and the Octave and Ginger Galloping into the battlefield. The guitar comes in with a single string pull off (also looped) Pogo adds his high pitch squeal mimicked my the guitar using a tremolo pedal as Manson chants No Salvation No Forgiveness and challenges his detractors to take their best shot. This is the most intense moment on the album. And to me the most physically tormenting piece of music to go through. That right. Go through. That's what I meant to say exactly. You don't just listen to this song. You endure it. For those that have the ability to FEEL and LISTEN. Not just hear. 16. "Man That You Fear": The tragic and relieving conclusion to this epic. Tells the ending to the character's story as a death. Alone. When all of your wishes are granted. Many of your dreams will be destroyed.
Lyrics — 9
To be Critical Manson doesn't do a good job of making his so called "concept" clear for the listener. It's very vague and requires very close examination to even realize that there's a character involved in this. We have to be told in interviews that it's a concept album. The vocals on the other hand are a relief from "Portrait"'s sometimes awkward and forced delivery. Manson's electric fuzz scream and the instrumentals have a strong organic flow with each other. If one can get passed the difficulty of finding the concept it's a very good piece of work. You notice things that you didn't notice before at 2nd listen. This album should be heard as a book is read.
Overall Impression — 10
For the mid 90s things like this in the mainstream were a rarity. So reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts was a milestone for the Industrial genre. It still holds it's own to this day in certain circles. The albums strong points are in it's many climaxes. "The Beautiful People" and "Angel With The Scabbed Wings". "Dead To The World", "The Reflecting God" unlocked a new level of heavy for the genre. Sometimes a song may feel as if it lasted too long. "Mister Superstar" has an ending that should have ended before the ending if you catch my drift. I remember the day I bought "Antichrist Superstar" from the local record shop. I had to choose between That and "Hellbilly Deluxe". And I'm glad I went with "Antichrist".