The Third Face of Marilyn Manson
Manson ditches the glam for goth on new album
With the title "Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)" and thematic threads weaving connection between Christ and Kennedy, religion and violence, mass media and alienation, is it too much to call Marilyn Manson's almost-finished new opus a concept album?
"It's too little to call it a concept album," says the lanky lighting rod for controversy, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes shining through dark glasses. Indeed, everything about this project screams "heavyosity". For one thing, it was recorded at the Hollywood Hills house once inhabited by magician Harry Houndini. And today, in the mixing studio where Manson and co-producer Dave Sardi are adding final touches, he is clearly going for a spooky ambience: The room is flooded with blood-red rifle poised on the couch and a wolf's head resting atop the recording console.
Manson explains that this album is not a piece unto itself but the glue binding its two predecessors, 1996's Antichrist Superstar and 1998's Mechanical Animals, into what Manson describes as a semiautobiographical "triptych," with an accompanying novel in the works as well. "This story can be interpreted on a number of levels, but one of the simplest ways," he says, "is about a boy who wants to become part of the world that he doesn't feel adequate for, and the bitterness and rage becomes a revolution inside him, and what happens is that the revolution becomes just another product.
"When he realizes it's too late," Manson continues, "his only choice is to destroy the thing he has created, which is himself."
On such songs as "Target Audience," "Disposable Teens" and "Cruci-Fiction in Space," Manson dismantles the slick, glam-tinged sound of Animals in favor of the more brutal industrial-goth grind of his first album. He knows some will see this as a reaction to Animals' commercial shortcomings. And Manson admits that returning to his old sound was a way to reconnect with "what a fan of Marilyn Manson wants."
To Manson, that fits right into the themes of the album cycle. "Mechanical Animals was to represent the point where the revolution get sold out, a hollow shell of what the essence of Marilyn Manson was," he says "It was a satire, and a lot of people interpreted it as 'This is what he really is.' I was making a mockery of what I was, taking a shot at myself."
He wasn't the only one taking shots, with the religious right trying to blame him for the Columbine tragedy and Courtney Love abandoning her tour with Manson last year. Manson says all that criticism made him defensive. But with the new album, he says that's been purged: "This is me coming out swinging. Rather than being fucked in the ass [by his critics], I would kick their teeth in. But I want to do it in a beautiful way, so that they could still be humming a tune as they held their mouths on the way to the orthodontist."