Though not as revered or as feared as he once was back in his glory days of the mid 90s/early 00s, Marilyn Manson‘s impression on the face of music and their controversial image and messages (more so over in America than over here in the UK) are undeniable. Originally starting out under the name of Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids, later changing and shortening their name to simply Marilyn Manson, the band and the frontman himself are still to this day household names and their sound is instantly recognisable. From the heavy as a whale bass lines, the gritty industrial metal embodiments, the glam rock influences and Manson’s trademark croaky vocals, they set a benchmark for shock rock.
Their first step into turning heads was with 1996’s sophomore effort, ‘Antichrist Superstar’, which boasted tracks such as ‘The Beautiful People’ and ‘Tourniquet’, both of which remain as staple inclusions in the band’s setlist. The band’s anti-Christian messages along with their thought provoking and confrontational images began inciting uproar within religious communities and protective parents. The anger and protests from various groups continued further upon the release of its follow-up, ‘Mechanical Animals’, one notable reason being for the album’s artwork, which depicted Manson to have breasts. Though the band’s tour for the record saw the band at arguably the peak of their entire career, the band were accused in being one of the prime causes in the tragic Columbine High School shooting massacre. The band cancelled several dates of their tour at the time, titled the Rock Is Dead tour, out of respect for the victims involved.
A retaliation towards the media and their attack against the band in the wake of the incident was partly made in their next release, ‘Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death)’. Taking on the American culture and their notable love for firearms, violence and gun culture, this was Manson’s chance to swing back at a country who turned the blame towards controversial subjects of entertainment such as themselves whilst still remaining respectful to those tragically involved in the Columbine shootings. The band would then go on to release the burlesque and swing music influenced record in 2003’s ‘The Golden Age Of Grotesque’, which again managed to top the Billboard charts in its opening week.
Following what was meant to be his departure from the world of music after releasing a greatest hits in 2004, titled ‘Lest We Forget: The Best Of…’, Manson announced a return to music with their new record, ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’. Sadly, however, this began to be the decline in the band’s shock factor in music and indeed society. 2009’s ‘The High End Of Low’ did much of the same, though saw the return of Twiggy Ramirez to the line-up, long-time friend of Manson. Though both albums received mixed to poor reviews, and in turn had left many thinking that Marilyn Manson had become a has-been, he has returned with his latest full-length, ‘Born Villain’, which finally sees some of the spark and life that was so great about Manson in the days of yore.
Whether or not this is the beginning of his rise back into truly deserving the self-bestowed title of “The God of Fuck” or the “Antichrist Superstar” again is yet to be seen. However, it’s a start. What is for certain though is that Manson‘s career has without doubt had a lasting impact on the world of music, and deep down America still fear his controversial ways. He still has the power to shock and confuse yet.
Here are some key tracks by the band Marilyn Manson, some of which may include singles/music videos, album tracks or rarer material which we think are great entry points into getting into the band:
These are what we feel are the best three albums to start you out on your journey to Marilyn Manson fandom, along with the better offerings on each record if your wallet can’t quite take the strain of a new album just yet and YouTube/Spotify is your only answer. Good way of checking the CDs out before parting with your hard-earned cash too:
Released: October 8th, 1996
This was THE album that projected Marilyn Manson and got everybody fearing everything that they were all about. The album’s artwork alone was enough to get people talking, showing underneath the initial sleve (seen left) a metamorphosis of a worm to an angel and Manson wearing a contraption on his penis connecting to gas masks used by two other band members to name just two images. Bearing one of the band’s biggest singles ‘The Beautiful People’ and other great hits such as the super anti-Christian ‘The Reflecting God’, the anti-American ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’ and the ballsy heavy slam ‘1996’, Manson was truly deserving of becoming a household name through its controversial style, confrontational messages and frankly awesome tunes.
Best tracks: The Reflecting God / The Beautiful People / Tourniquet
Released: November 13th, 2000
Though sadly ‘Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death)’ would initially turn out to be one of Manson‘s least successful records in terms of sales and chart performance, it would later turn out to be one of his best selling albums to date. Not only that, it would be one of the most important albums of its time – and still today – in being brave enough to tackle the problems thrust upon the band from the attacks of the American media and populace. Manson threw back the true blame and problem right in their faces for the world to see in a savage swing. Simply the title of its supporting tour (Guns, God And Government) highlights the country’s problems in a few simple words. Truly brilliant.
Best tracks: Born Again / Disposable Teens / Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)
Released: May 13th, 2003
Arguably the last great album that Manson has released at the time of writing, the burlesque and swing music influenced record was a step away from the connecting arching storyline present within his past three records (‘Antchrist Superstar’, ‘Mechanical Animals’ and ‘Holy Wood’). Its great commercial success within Europe, aided of course by its leading singles ‘mOBSCENE’ and ‘This Is The New Shit’ (or ‘This Is The New Hit’ before watershed) found the album topping charts in several different countries. It managed to prove that Manson can take almost any genre of music, inject it into his own trademark style and hybrise it into something of his own. The Mickey Mouse ears phase that Manson went through at the time was remarkably weird too.
Best tracks: mOBSCENE / The Golden Age Of Grotesque / Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag
Written by Zach Redrup