Marilyn Manson is a controversial figure in Rock n’ Roll’s long, but distorted history. There is no one sound for rock music anymore, the lines are blurred and scattered; Marilyn Manson is an artist that entirely destroyed genre through his career and managed to create an incredible amount of attention for his second studio release, Antichrist Superstar. The harsh lyrics, brash imagery, and no compassion for the audience left Manson in a continual spotlight for his intelligence, bravery, and fear of none.
With an album titled Antichrist Superstar, some sort of hellish imagery has to flash in the mind of the reader, the cover art which features a heavily disturbed imaged of scabbed wings, distortion around the face and eyes, and the words, “Heart”, “Mind”, “Complacent”, and “Malice” in a four-part directional map for the album. Manson begins this masterpiece with “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”, a track that is by no means as shocking as it was when it was released in 1996; but the stings of the blitzing guitar and smashing percussion that is accompanied by a somehow charismatic lyricist that shouts and yells his approach directly into the microphone. His lyrics as stated before, are simply brash and animalistic, Manson sees the American public as a target for his musical bullet and without warning dives into discussing homicide, death, rape, and society in a quick daze of poetry. His chorus describes, “Everybody’s someone else’s nigger, I know you are, so am I. I wasn’t born with enough middle fingers; I don’t need to choose a side”. In a display of what can only be described as a fireworks display of chaos, Manson wastes no time moving into the following track, a grinding example of how productive talent can create a catchy, but sadistic cut.
“The Beautiful People” takes a similar approach as it moves between the consistent yelling of Manson, and the odd, but smile-inducing chorus that plays behind him. The twisted imagery that the iconic drum beat and the awe-inspiring bass riffs that still to this day play over and over again on stereos everywhere as an Industrial Rock anthem. Manson paved a way with his style that many artists would try to follow, but have a troubling time being as cutting edge and as sharp as Manson. It is apparent throughout all of Antichrist Superstar, but it is especially true on how he can take the production from Trent Reznor, and shift it into something completely unforgettable as both a piece of music history, and as a piece of controversial shaping of society.
It is on the later track, “Kinderfeld” where Manson reveals another side as he takes a slower approach, but still keeps the same stabbing style of his earlier tracks. It is explained through the chorus that Manson’s main character in the storyline of Antichrist Superstar that there is a serious transformation happening, “Then I got my wings, and I never even knew it. When I was a worm, thought I couldn’t get through it”. As the main character is pictured in this helpless villain, to a now sprouting animal of malicious intent, The track eventually becomes a chanting display of “This is what you should fear, you are what you should fear”. Which, then transfers Manson into the self-titled track, “Antichrist Superstar”, a deviously exciting ride of political-esque chants that reign into the chorus and verses of, “Prick your finger, it is done. The moon has now eclipsed the sun, Angel has spread its wings, the time has come for bitter things. Repent, that’s what I’m talking about, I shed the skin to feed the fake. Repent, that’s what I’m talking about, whose mistake am I anyway?”. Behind this hydra of sound, comes the operatic chorus that plays throughout the track and shines on the final moments where a robotic vocalist repeats in multiple voices, “When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you”.
In a final moment of retribution, Marilyn Manson takes Antichrist Superstar into a moment of peace with “Man That You Fear”, a slowed, deep cut that closes off the pages of the story of the Worm, the Angel Re-born, the character that Manson portrays so well. It is a social commentary on society and while Manson is a musical legend that has made a career in the shocking; he can also be quite beautiful and impactful as well.