Marilyn Manson, the king of controversy shifts gears more than any artist in his field. He is able to blend like the chameleon, able to hide behind the veil of genre and create true masterpieces of stylish artwork. Manson is a true genius behind his craft and his step into Glam/Industrial Rock, Mechanical Animals was the first real true musical love that I faced, the teeth being sheathed behind a pale grin; the beautiful instrumental pieces that would draw me in and make Marilyn Manson a household name for myself. Mechanical Animals is the first album that I truly felt wrapped inside and totally immersed within.
From the Antichrist Superstar, to the strange outer-space being simply named Omēga (Oh Me Ga), Manson adapts to an entirely new persona and with it comes a new style of being. Mechanical Animals opens with “Great Big White World”, a disassociated and dislocated track that follows the outsider who looks into the society with wide eyes. The guitar that suddenly plucks in seemingly iconic with the album as it sets the first, strange turn that Manson took with the production of the album. Taking in everything he can, the protagonist that “Great Big White World” shadows is one that does not truly understand the surroundings; Manson explains, “I’m not attached to your world, nothing heals and nothing grows. Because it’s a great big white world, and we are drained of our colors. We used to love ourselves, we used to love one another”. There are moments of real beauty behind Manson and the band that plays behind him, from the synths that are the heavy focus of most of the tracks, to the riffs of the bass and guitars that create ringing harmonies of glam glory.
While Marilyn Manson took a much different sound with Mechanical Animals, he still does feature some of the grinding industrial style that was present on Antichrist Superstar, with “Rock Is Dead”, Manson takes the shrieking guitars and pounding percussion to a new level as he shouts “Rock is deader than dead, shock is all in your head. Your sex and your dope is al that were fed, so fuck all your protests and put them to bed…Anything to belong.” It is the first track that takes a more up-beat clash of cymbals and noise that crash like waves and then suddenly fall into “Disassociative”, a track that entirely switches the style of sound once again and becomes a confessional piece behind an exaggerative and dramatic reading of slowed instrumentals, along with Manson describing, “I can never get out of here, I don’t wanna just float in fear, a dead astronaut in space.” Manson’s lyrical styling on Mechanical Animals is much less shocking, but feels as impactful for the way that it captures the total feeling of isolation. The feeling of being an outsider and never being able to fully understand the society around his character is unbelievably relatable, and when paired with the downright magnificent sounds that come from Manson’s backing band is just incredible. It feels like a movie that is being played with the vast world of imagery and dialogue that Manson delivers with each following track.
With the large commercial hit, “I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)”, Manson adopts a nice funk groove that plays behind his 1970’s love letter to David Bowie’s Young Americans, Manson becomes a stumbling mess as he describes, “There’s a hole in out soul that we fill with dope and we’re feeling fine”, with a chorus of soul style singers behind him that repeat, “Don’t like the drugs, the drugs, the drugs”. This then floods into “New Model No. 15 where Manson takes to chanting and becoming more straight-forward as the synths play a catchy little riff before letting Manson describe, “Like-life and pose-able, hopeless and disposable, I’m the new, I’m the new, new model, I’ve got nothing inside.” Manson begins to move faster as he hits three tracks in rapid succession. Each track becomes a quick transition from “New Model No. 15”, “User Friendly”, and the suddenly slow “Fundamentally Loathsome” where Manson adopts to an Amy Winehouse styled crawl where the final act begins to show its head.
Mechanical Animals creeps toward the close like a slithering snake full of passion, “Fundamentally Loathsome” becomes one of the most impactful and memorable tracks off the record for the way that the instrumental production just shines as a beacon amidst the darkness that clouds Manson’s discography. This can also be said about the closer, “Coma White” which was not only a huge success for Manson, but it also a wonderful closer that captures the spirit and style of Mechanical Animals with a sullen, almost sunken track that is nearly bleak behind the beauty. Manson describes, “You were from a perfect world, a world that threw me away… A pill to make you numb, a pill to make you dumb, a pill to make you anybody else”. The feedback from the instruments then drowns the noise and becomes a silent journey into the AIDS of Space.
Resonating within the social commentary of Manson’s drug-filled peers and even a mirroring opinion on himself, Mechanical Animals becomes a still-relevant discussion today through the topic of fame, narcotics, and how people are perceived. He is a diverse character that can create new worlds from his pen; as one chapter closes, yet another opens.