Where To Start With… Marilyn Manson
Ever since Brian Warner decided to rename himself after the world’s most iconic actress and one of history’s most famous serial killers back in 1989, he has loomed large in popular culture.
During the 26-year of his band, Manson has made some great records, some good but misunderstood records and some records that are aren’t up to much, but, crucially, he’s always been interesting, ever-changing, always looking for the next way to shock, both sonically and, sometimes, morally.
He’s back this week with Heaven Upside Down, the 10th full-length effort of his career. This album (which you can purchase on the right-hand side of the page) sees Manson move away from the Bowie esque blues of The Pale Emperor and return to the industrial stomp of his earlier work, as shown on new single ‘We Know Where You F***ing Live’.
To celebrate his return we thought we’d round his five finest moments…
‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’
1996’s Antichrist Superstar is Manson’s finest moment, it’s a black-hearted, punishing, flawless aural assault, full of witchy electronics, hammering guitar riffs and colossal choruses. Most would choose ‘The Beautiful People’ or ‘Tourniquet’ as the album’s highlight, but we plump for the album’s opener, the piledriving ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’.
There’s a reason Manson has opened most of his live shows with this song, it sets the place alight every single time.
‘I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)’
1999’s Mechanical Animals saw Manson delve back in the elegant dark pop of David Bowie and Roxy Music. It’s a strange, wonderful concept record about a substance addicted glam rocker and a gender-ambiguous alien called Omēga who is captured and forced to front a band named The Mechanical Animals. It’s fittingly groovy and otherworldly, with a killer chorus and a brilliant riff from Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro, who guests on the track.
‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’
Almost no one is better at taking a classic and making it his own than Manson. He’s given Gloria Jones’ ‘Tainted Love’, Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ and John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ particularly brilliant makeovers, and this, his 1994 reworking of the Eurythmics classic, is the finest of them all.
He takes this brittle and bombastic single and adds layers of spooky electronics and a driving power, topped off by his throaty and menacing vocals. It was a great song to start with, but this takes to a whole new level.
‘The Fight Song’
One thing Manson does better than almost anybody else is out and out aggression and rage. Taken from his 2000 record Holy Wood, this is a head-banging anthem, drenched in feedback and powered by a pounding rhythm section. It’s one of his best and guaranteed to get you fired up.
‘Heart-Shaped Glasses (When The Hand Guides The Heart)’
Eat Me, Drink Me, the album this is taken from, could be best described as hit or miss, but this is a solid gold banger. Built around a grinding riff and demonic drumbeat, it’s another foot-stomping anthem with a wallop of a chorus.
As with all Manson’s records, it’s deeply of his time, he’d been making one about Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll (Phantasmagoria, it’s still never come out) and had fallen in love on set with actress Evan Rachel Wood, who was in turn with obsessed with Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, famous for his controversial novel Lolita and the lead character’s heart-shaped glasses.