Marilyn Manson - _The Golden Age of Grotesque_
(Nothing / Interscope, 2003)
by: Xander Hoose (9 out of 10)
Marilyn Manson's star rose quick in the mid-nineties; _Antichrist Superstar_ became the ultimate album for frustrated alternative teens who felt that most electro/industrial bands on one side were too dull or traditional, and alternative music on the other side being just too damn nice. Marilyn Manson provoked, shocked, amazed, horrified millions of parents and thus became an instant icon. Regarded as a modern-day incarnation of the devil by some and a cheap musician cashing in on Trent Reznor's popularity by others, there's no doubt that any artist in the late nineties has provoked so much discussion and sold so many albums because of it than Marilyn Manson. But instead of milking his image further, he chose a different path and reinvented himself as Omega, a modern Ziggy Stardust. _Mechanical Animals_, artistically and musically his greatest achievement, was too big a leap from the aggressive _Antichrist Superstar_ for many of his fans. As a result, the press started looking for a new black sheep (and briefly found one in Eminem) and the hype subdued a little. With _Holy Wood_, Manson tried desperately to reclaim his former throne by rehashing _Antichrist Superstar_ elements -- without much success. The album was in many ways a big disappointment. Manson disappeared from the spotlights, and most remarkably replaced bassplayer Twiggy Ramirez with electrowizard Tim Skold (KMFDM). The result is _The Golden Age of Grotesque_, an album unlike any other Manson album. Where most of Manson's albums had a very strong identity, identity is something completely lacking on _The Golden Age of Grotesque_. Most of the songs are heavily influenced by Skold and are especially similar to material on the KMFDM album if you disregard the vocals. Another over-obvious influence is Ministry, in riffing and drumming. But _The Golden Age of Grotesque_ shares most with another group from the eighties: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. The lyrical silliness and inanity (songtitles: "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag", "Ka-Boom Ka-Boom", "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth") breathe the same Kult atmosphere, and the female background choir of "mOBSCENE" is more than a wink at the Kult's _Hit & Run Holiday_ album. So what does this all make _The Golden Age of Grotesque_? Marilyn Manson succeeded well in creating a soundtrack to the decadence of the '30s. In not taking his songs and lyrics too seriously, Marilyn Manson created a two-headed monster: _The Golden Age of Grotesque_ doesn't sound much like a Manson album, but it might very well be one of his best.


(article published 3/6/2003)

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