Released: 2000, Nothing/Interscope
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
By 2000, Marilyn Manson had worn out his welcome. Having been replaced as the root of all evil by Eminem, Manson’s record sales plummeted alongside the public’s fear of him. Unfortunately, those who were only interested in Manson’s image missed out on one the best releases from 2000, HOLY WOOD (IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY OF DEATH). Manson’s lyrics were at their best as he attacked his critics who blamed him for the Columbine High School tragedy. The music was a return to the sound of 1996’s ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR. Everything is in place for the perfect Marilyn Manson album. HOLY WOOD is a concept album—the third part of a trilogy containing ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR and MECHANICAL ANIMALS—that touches on the trials and tribulations Manson himself faced as the whipping boy for America’s political right wing.
“The Love Song” has a great thumping bass intro from Twiggy and explores the American myth of patriotism with the lyric, “Do you love your guns? God? Government?”. “The Fight Song” asks the question from a teenager’s point of view of why parents only take interest when things go wrong. The line, “They'll just cut our wrists like cheap coupons and say that death was on sale today” is absolutely brilliant! “Disposable Teens” is too reminiscent of “The Beautiful People” from ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR. It almost borders on plagiarism it is so similar! Next on Manson’s hitlist is religion on “Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)” where he says “Sorry your Sunday smiles are rusty nails and your crucifixion commercials failed…Sorry I saw a priest being beaten and I made a wish”. “The Nobodies” is written as if the 2 shooters at the Columbine High School were speaking, saying “We are the nobodies/ we wanna be somebodies/ when we're dead/ they'll know just who we are/ Some children died the other day…you should have seen the ratings that day”. The public’s fascination with the media is also scrutinized by Manson on “Lamb of God”. He believes that the media makes celebrities out of killers by using their plight to boost ratings. The chorus is “If you die when there's no one watching then your ratings drop and you're forgotten but if they kill you on their TV you're a martyr and a lamb of god”. “Burning Flag” is an industrial flavored song that sounds like something Ministry or early Nine Inch Nails would do. The most scathing lyrics are found on “King Kill 33” where Manson comes right out and tells his critics what he thinks of them. “You never accepted or treated me fair, blamed me for what I believe and I wear…You never gave me a chance to be me or even a fucking chance just to be…The world that hates me has taken its toll but now I have finally taken control…You wanted so bad to make me this thing and I want you now to just kill the king.”
The cover of this album is also worth mentioning because it features Manson himself in what appears to be a Christ pose complete with nails through his hands but his bottom jaw is missing and his body is gangrenous. The album was actually banned from American retailers K-Mart and Wal-Mart due to the cover art.
If nothing else, Marilyn Manson is a talented lyricist. He writes thought-provoking songs that, musically, are both catchy and heavy. Whatever you may think of his image, listen to HOLY WOOD and you’ll witness one of the most important artists in music.