Sound — 10
Mechanical Animals was another milestone for Marilyn Manson. It showed maturity and growth, but it was also another turn in a musical direction, featuring more polished sound with slicker production and a different songwriting style, resulting in a Kiss-meets-Bauhaus vibe. There are essentially two distinct sides to the album, the rock side, and the melancholic, reflective and depressing side. For Manson, this album was about getting feelings back, after being so numbed by pain that the senses were completely dulled. A sort of sarcastic/reflective view of himself if you will. The way the songs are constructed goes on to reflect that. For the depressive, melancholic moods the band opts for very open and ambient sound, employing acoustic and clean guitars, sparse keyboard lines and just as sparse drumming, and booming bass lines, with guitar put through delay and vibrato effects to further the perception of being in space, or detached and essentially alone, which is also the main lyrical theme. The music and lyrics go hand in hand, which definitely adds to the album significantly. The rock side of this album (or the Omega And The Mechanical Animals half if you will) reflects the overall decadent, wasteland feel of the album as well, ridiculing the typical rockstar image and lifestyle. Here the musical styles vary slightly, from punchy anthems like Rock Is Dead to sludgers such as the Dope Show. Another twist is added to this strange concoction by adding I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me), which adds handclaps, a Dave Navarro solo, a choir and an almost disco feel. Production on the album is excellent too, with crystal sound that effortlessly paints a picture in your head. The band was without its long-time producer for this album, Trent Reznor, and it definitely showed in both production and songwriting, with a much more open, less experimental sound.
Lyrics — 8
Mr. Manson possesses the sort of unique voice that is recognisable whether you are in a chuch, mall or a rock show. While it has its limits, I don't find that it's overly versatile, although he does possess a variety of techniques at his disposal, it suits the music perfectly, and is just a good voice in general, giving the music the feel and attitude that it may not otherwise have had. On Mechanical Animals Manson proves once again that he is an incredibly talented lyricist, mixing intelligence and decadence with humour and sarcasm. As been mentioned before, this album is literally about coming back from hell getting your feelings back, and the pain and alienation, mental detachment and separation that come with that. To quote Mr. Manson "After a while the character realises that he became everything he tried to fight, so in the end the only thing left to destroy is himself" and the lyrics only go further to show that, highlighted even more so by the rest of the band.
Overall Impression — 10
Manson describes himself as an artist, rather than a musician, and this album only supports that statement. Both music and lyrics are very image-prone, painting a unique landscape in your mind. While in general it carries a very depressive mood, it is also full of the dark, sarcastic sort of humour that Marilyn Manson is renowned for, poking fun at everyone, most of all himself. Musically, this is the band's greatest accomplishment, with deep, insightful and intelligent lyrics and the music to back it up with. In terms of guitar work this is probably Manson's most diverse album, as coupled with his usual sound, there are stylistic shifts, bluesy solos, lots of clean sections and acoustic guitars, and a more traditional rock sound as opposed to the industrial crunch and grind that you usually expect. It is highly recommended not only for Manson fans, but also the ones new to his work and even your average rock fans. Excellent material.