Sound — 7
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".
Lyrics — 7
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.
Overall Impression — 7
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.