Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marilyn Manson, "Antichrist Superstar" (1996)


Parents, lock up your children, it's Marilyn Manson, scourge of a nation. Probably I never would have given any of this a second thought—too much arch concept in the programmatic monster / monster names, to start—except someone sent me a copy of the first album, which was way better than I expected. By the time of this follow-up the band had become a first-rate performing act, which I attribute to the influence of Trent Reznor, traveling with Nine Inch Nails, and because Fort Lauderdale's finest, Brian Warner, has always been a decent songwriter. If I ever happen to make peace with the bombast of opera I believe it may be with Marilyn Manson pointing the way. Yes, this is formally and intentionally a rip on Jesus Christ Superstar, and no, rock opera is another beast altogether. The tiresome / predictable / sophomoric (thesaurus, don't fail me now) Nietzsche thread in the album for which this is the title song at least does the service of locating it all closer to Richard Wagner than Pete Townshend (speaking as one who happens to love Tommy). I think you're supposed to care about the stories in opera but I don't care about the story here. What I like is the dense wallop, with a bottom that reaches to the molten core of the earth, nothing at rest. Even quieter moments (for the dynamics, see), with say a warbling choral sound straight out of Diamanda Galas, impress more as teams of wraiths and infernal termite buzz, alternating with football cheers, demon vocals, stepping down the scale into tumult, and a heavy riff that's ultimately quite satisfying. When it achieves full roar it's hard for me to see how you can call it anything but magnificent.

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