The man and the band who were not born with enough middle fingers to choose a side were back two years after their rude and crude musical theatrical depiction of the dark side of American culture and returned with the ultimate of chosen sides guaranteed to ruffle religious feathers and as well as finding themselves a target of congressional hearings which took the shock rock 2.0 style of goth and doom to the very heart of the American fabric to ascertain the effects of the provocative lyrics that could possibly create revolutionary thoughts and actions.
ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR was dropped upon the musical world like an atomic bomb and left the impact crater that caught the world’s attention instantly gathering up such disparate musical influences of Alice Cooper’s shock rock theatre, hardcore punk’s attitude of dissent and utter contempt for society at large, the alternative grunge guitar eschewing the neoclassical leanings of the 80s, the industrial embellishments of Skinny Puppy with the catchy pop sensibilities of any the NIN-led Trent Rezner who has his role into propelling the production into a goth-dance club gone to hell and oh, let’s not forget about the sleep deprivation induced make up job that would make Brian Hugh Warner, leader of the band look like a cover girl gone wild and possibly a contender as Tammy Faye Baker look alike who would be smothered by a pillow in her once placid slumber.
This is an album that i was utterly against even hearing for the longest time simply due to the fact that it eschewed any progressive leanings of developing the metal genre and seemed like a retrograde of sorts, but i have to admit that this was the album for me that broke down the barriers of snobbery and immediately opened up a floodgate of music that is simply expressive in a more simplistic way without having the desire to delve into every contemplative way of being complexer-than-thou. MARILYN MANSON was a force to be reckoned with in 1996 providing simply catchy metal riffing, a hardcore attitude and enough thought provoking anti-establishment criticism that would even make Che Rivera cover his face in corpse paint and belittle “The Beautiful People.”
While i do indeed find this album to be a major pivotal point in my musical development, i do have some serious critique regarding it’s balance as the supposed rock opera that was intended to be as magnanimous as any that came before. My first reaction is - what theme? This album does not constitute a ridiculously convoluted theme of any sort. It is basically just a 77:26 musical rant that incorporates snide razor sharp criticism to undermine the oral defecation of the day and on that front it does an excellent job but let’s face it, this is an excellent collection of tracks that don’t hold together perfectly even if the majority of them are adeptly constructed and executed. A nice little teenage angst opera if you will.
Personally i really love most of the tracks on here with the sword piercing consciousness expanding material and groovy metal meets dance that was soooo not the norm of the day but as an overall expansive concept album this just flops big time and is probably the reason many don’t regard this as any kind of relevant historical marker despite many of us who love it being mesmerized by the musical output. I also find many tracks to derail the overall feel. I could never stand “Tournequette” and “Little Horn” early on in the album and find the album’s track order could have been more effective for communicating an overall theme of some sort, but this is hind site and we all know that is 20/20. While this album is not a timeless classic, there are plenty of classic moments shining like brilliant diamonds in the queen’s crown only unfortunately there are plenty of turds to mire the overall impression which for better and more often much worse was the destiny for MARILYN MANSON in the long run. It does seem after many years of listening to this one that a bit more maturity in construction could have added to the overall effect of what the man and band were aiming for, but for what it is, i still find this to be an exciting listen despite it not being my ultimate protest album of the century. While the muthafuckin’ anti-Pope didn’t quite have what it took to be the tsunami of rebellion that was planned, it is true that the songs were well constucted, excellently executed and passionately delivered. Unfortunately it seems that MANSON blew his wad with this one and from here on he (the man) has only been grasping for straws in style and musical content. I personally find this one to be a unique and compelling album that delivers the concentration of societal angst in a huge explosion of musical expression. Perfectly executed? Nope, but i can still put this album on years later and feel a connection to an era. Not bad.