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Album Review: Marilyn Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque

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Marilyn Manson Is A Musical Genius
Saturday, June 20, 2003
By: The Raging Critic

I must preface this review with a disclaimer of sorts. My interpretations of this album are my own interpretations. They are by no means reflect the artistic intentions of Marilyn Manson. I totally respect an artist’s true expressions, whether or not I really get the point. After all, Manson is a musical genius

Gothic Rock would not be where it is today without Marilyn Manson. This man came out from nowhere with his “Spooky Kids” back in the mid-1990’s. Our first mainstream glimpse of Manson was as if our worst nightmares had come to life. As the Antichrist Superstar, he would have been a fitting Prom date for Sissy Spacek in the movie “Carrie.” As time passed, Manson’s alter ego, Omega, landed on planet Earth sporting a brand new pair of titties while the “Mechanical Animals” taught the world about the glamorous drug scene. Manson quickly ditched the glam look and, in apparent retaliation to all of those who blamed him for the Columbine massacre, told the entire world to fuck off in his album “Holy Wood.” Although “Holy Wood” seemed to be Manson’s vehicle for re-entry into Earth, the album fell short of expectations and was pale in comparison to his earlier works. Alas, Manson has released the latest with “The Golden Age of Grotesque.” This album is the epitome of gothic rock. Although it is not as superb as “Mechanical Animals,” this is arguably the most revealing album ever to be released by the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar, and he did it without his long time sidekick and best friend, Twiggy Ramirez.

As I unwrap the album and slip on the headphones, I begin my journey through “The Golden Age of Grotesque”……….

Track 1: Theatre
The song starts out with the sound of a film projector running in the background. I feel as if I am sitting in some back alley movie theatre getting ready to watch some bootlegged snuff film with a gaggle of serial killers. Eerie sounds start to surround me. I feel as if I am being prepped for my own murder. The creepy element is present. If this intro is the primer for the rest of the album, the journey will no doubt be a good one.

Track 2: This Is The New Shit
Marilyn teaches us a lesson in the first lyric track. Essentially, there is nothing new to say in the world today. It has all been done before. We, the ignorant society that we are, do not care and we yearn the new shit regardless of its recycled nature. So guess what, here it is! “Babble babble bitch bitch rebel rebel party party sex sex sex and don’t forget the violence blah blah blah got your lovey-dovey sad-and-lonely stick your stupid slogan in everybody sing along.” I guess he is right. There is not much else to sing about is there? Somehow I suspect Manson is trying to fool us into believing this, while at the same time, he is out to prove himself wrong.

The song has a great beat to it and the lyrics are very catchy. This is the new shit alright, and it doesn’t even stink!

Track 3: mOBSCENE
Marilyn has tried out for cheerleading!!! What joy! I wonder if he is wearing bloomers underneath his black leather cheerleading skirt? At any rate, if you act obscene you will grab the attention of all of those around you. Don’t worry, they won’t listen to a word you say because they will be so damned distracted by the obscenity that your message does not even matter. I don’t care really. I am just wanting to go out and do a floor cheer with Manson and his band at my old high school in my own attempt at being obscene. Before we do it, I think we should torture all of the real cheerleaders by tying them up and pelting them with turds!

What is one man’s obscenity is another man’s art. “Awesome oh wow, like totally freak me out I mean right on, Marilyn Manson’s number one.”

Track 4: Doll-Daga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety Zag
This track is Swing on Special K! I like it already! It has the same beat as “Beautiful People.” The only thing I can make out of this gobbledygook is that I am plagued with images of the roaring twenties, except the people dancing are wearing tit clamps and butt plugs. Hey, “the toys are us and we don’t even know.” By the way, can I get a bump!

The song is catchy, but it may get annoying after repeated exposure. I advise to listen to this one with decreased frequency. You do not want to overdo it or else you might lose a grip on reality.

Track 5: Use Your Fist And Not Your Mouth
For starters, I love the title. I tell every man the same thing on the first date! Can someone please pass the KY-Jelly? Thanks!

Simply put, this is the anthem of the entire album. You can listen to this one over and over and over and it never causes delusions. “This is the black collar song. Put it in your middle finger and sing along.” This song has every element necessary to be the most fitting gothic anthem off all time. It wreaks of anarchy, anti-establishmentism, anti-Christianity, and anti-mainstream. All the while, our fearless leader has rallied the troops together to revolt and urges us to rage against the new “American-style” by using our fists rather than our mouths in order to be heard. In other words, society does not listen to reason so lets go kick their asses! Where can I enlist? This is the best song on the album as it incites us to the call of duty.

Track 6: The Golden Age of Grotesque
This song subtly hints at fascism and Hitler. “It’s a dirty word REICH, say what you like.” Now that we have enlisted in the anti-mainstream Army, we are kicking our legs up and hailing our fearless leader. I only hope the butt plug does not fall out. Hey, after all, this is the “Golden Age of Grotesque.” It is a tragedy, not a comedy.

I have visions of scenes out of “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. Dumb asses like the Reverend Jerry Fallwell will no doubt misinterpret this song as being pro-nazi in order to bolster more anti-Mason mania.

Track 7: (s)AINT
Our journey continues and Manson reveals himself in this tune with humility AND arrogance. We also get a lesson in linguistics. He begs us to answer, “What’s my name, what’s my name?” Before we can respond, he chants “uh uh, uh uh, hold the “s” because I am an Ain’t.” By the way, he’s got an F and a C and he’s got the K too (can I get a bump), and the only thing that is missing is a bitch like U.

This song lets us know that he has shed his inferiority complex that he previously revealed in “Beautiful People.” He convinces us that he is THE SHIT now and all of his naysayers can only sit back and shake their head with envy. The lyrics are intelligently crafted. Marilyn may have the “F,” “C,” and “K” and who cares if he is still missing the “U” because he gets a well deserved “A” for this dirty little ditty.

Track 8: Ka-boom Ka-boom
We are suddenly fishing in the eternal lake of fire in hell. Manson eeks out, “I won’t do it with you, I’ll do it to you. I hope my hook gets caught in your mouth.” My take is that Manson is really saying, “Ka-boom, here is all of the flashy bait I have to offer you, and you are taking the bait for all of the wrong reasons.”

This is a song that drones on and on. It is my least favorite on the album. I suspect he is soon taking us to a dark place.

Track 9: Slutgarden
Well, Marilyn has found his way to my bedroom – a.k.a “the slutgarden.”

Screw the religious right and their take on sex! Can I get an Amen? Is there not any room for lust anymore? Then again it cuts both ways right? I use you for sex, but are you using me for sex too? God forbid, because my ego and my heart could never take that. What difference does it make because “You are the church, I am the steeple. When we fuck we are all God’s people.” This conflicting melody is great.

Track 10: Spade
This is an extremely sleezy sounding track. It is dark and dreary, but serves its purpose this deep into our journey through The Golden Age. Now that lust has had its say, only love can follow – right? With love, comes heartache. I think this song is directed toward Rose McGowan, his ex-love. If not, then it is some other person who has ripped his heart out. For you religious folks out there, the man IS human, and damn you for doubting that!

“You drained my heart and made a spade. But there’s still traces of me inside your veins.” Manson exposes his innate male ego. Although someone has torn his heart out, they just HAVE TO still have some feelings for him inside, don’t they? Otherwise, the male ego would shatter. He is in the denial phase.

Track 11: Para-noir
From the denial phase, we go instantaneously into the anger phase in our cathartic journey. Without naming anyone specific, he flat out lets the “women of the world” have it. “I don’t need a reason to hate you the way that I do.” Speaking of hate, this song is saturated with it. It is pounding, almost as if Manson is taking an axe to someone who double-crossed him. Listen to this one when you are pissed. You’ll feel better afterward.

This song is by far the most unique on the album. We are treated to sound bites of some woman listing the numerous reasons why she had sex with Manson. All of these reasons are groundwater – all surface-oriented. May she rot in hell with the rest of us – that bitch!

Track 12: The Bright Young Things
From the outset we get some good sound effects here. Things are looking brighter for our wounded guru as the lights are turned on. Marilyn is now in the acceptance phase. WHEW! It’s time to hate all of the ignorant people again, now that we have healed the fragile heart. As mOBSCENE illustrates, you may like watching the freak show because it is merely obscene, but Manson’s real fans know better. He is a “rebel to sell, it’s just suits as well. We are the bright young things.” It is a shame if you are looking for all the wrong reasons!

The song is erratic. But then again so is most of the viewing public.

Track 13: Better of Two Evils
Hypocrisy is unveiled as the mosh pit song makes its big splash! It is time to punish the critical viewing public who listens with a dead ear. Let them say and do what they want, because only a self-actualized artist can take the criticism like a grain of salt and throw it over their shoulder. The funny thing is that those casting stones, would probably sniff the salt if no one was looking – oh and me too!

“Haters call me bitch, call me faggot, call me whitey.” Say all you want you stone casting idiots, Manson would rather be “the better of two evils” because in the end, the persecuted are the real heroes.

Track 14: Vodevil
The song starts out like a deranged vaudeville show. The difference is that this is the Golden Age of Grotesque we are touring and the star of the show is Manson himself. I think he is trying to tell us that he is not a mere sideshow, he is a work of art.

This is another great angry song. His frustrations with people are quite evident. I feel his pain.

Track 15: Obsequey (The Death of Art)
We are back to where we started in the beginning. Like any great journey, we have gone full circle. Art has died and we have nothing new to say. Neither does Marilyn because there are no lyrics. The curtain closes and I have envision myself safely escaping from the theatre filled with serial killers.

My Take:
“Grotesque” seems to carry the general theme that Manson merely wants to be heard. He will stoop to all levels to get our attention, but that is not the reaction for which he is begging. He wants more. He wants us to actually listen and to understand how messed up the world really is. After all, this is “The Golden Age of Grotesque” in which we are living.

Grade: A-

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About TheRagingCritic

  • Gothic Rock would not be where it is today without Marilyn Manson.

    And more’s the pity…

  • Took the words right out of my mouth, James.

  • MM is a purveyor of glam-goth not real goth. Not that I mind glam-goth, but he is just dark-pop that is all.

  • sarah

    this album is gr8 although i liked holwood betta the songs r so affective marilyn manson fukin rules and i am so sad he is gettin married cuz i wnt him 4 me!!!!!!!!

  • Kat

    Marilyn Manson is a genius.
    All his songs have a message that many seem to miss due to their ignorance. In The Golden Age of Grotesque he not only embraces this fact but also makes fun of it.
    Great review.

  • Steph

    Since when hasn’t humanity been in this ‘Golden Age of Grotesque’? Societies have always been like this. People are more comfortable with being victimized, no one wants to take initiative.