Antichrist Superstar (Nothing Records)
Never before has Mr. Manson plied his craft so well than in his second full-length album Antichrist Superstar, which has created controversy after controversy among Bible-wielding conservatives. Manson's opposition, however, fails to understand the vast scope this album covers: both introspective and critical of society, optomistic yet pessimistic, and constructive despite its subversion.
From the opening chords of the adrenaline catalyst "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," one can feel Manson's anger towards the fascist community with such candid lyrics as "I wasn't born with enough middle fingers." The listener even has the opportunity to delve into his psyche through songs like the melodic "Tourniquet" and the furious "Little Horn," which were both written based on his dreams, but were intended to carry a much deeper meaning.
Near the middle of this epic, Manson summarizes the pros and cons to being a rock star for the listener, simultaneously keeping an ongoing worm-to-angel metaphor with great tact. From the simple, sombre, electronic notes of "Cryptorchid" to his loud, psychotic rants in "Angel With the Scabbed Wings" and songs such as the silly, surreal "Wormboy" to fill it out, his point is clear and potent with an intensity not many can match.
Then comes the apocalyptic finale to the tale of man made superstar. The title track and "1996" bring the album to an explosive climax; the denouement afterwards, however, is just as powerful. "Minute of Decay"'s dark, morbid overtone along with its finely-crafted, very personal lyrics create a certain empathy for this character who has "been to black and back" on his fruitful yet sobering journey. The final masterpiece, the ballad-like "Man That You Fear," laments the fall of this character with a majestic grace, ending in a single encompassing message: "When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed."
Antichrist Superstar is Marilyn Manson at their best--it is the album the band had set out to make for years and marks a new level of musical maturity in them. They are one of the few bands, and this is one of the few albums, that can create such a lasting impact on the American culture. One can only hope they continue to maintain their sting and give conservative rock a kick in the face for many years to come.