Released: 2003, Nothing/Interscope
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It’s been 3 years but THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE picks up where 2000’s HOLY WOOD (IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY OF DEATH) left off. Marilyn Manson seemed to get just about everything off his chest on what was one pissed off album! This time, the songs are less personal and revolve around the themes of 1920’s Berlin and the burlesque theater. The songs are as heavy as ever but are much less venomous. He mixes industrial, metal, and a bit of keyboard-heavy samples to create an interesting album.
“Thaeter” opens the album with some strange music played over the sound of a film projector running. “This Is The New Shit” is Manson’s argument against contrived, commercial music that is found all over radio today. “mOBSCENE” features what sounds like a cheerleader squad chanting “Be obscene” over and over. The next track is the bizarrely-named “Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag” has a great guitar riff and thick bottom end from Ginger Fish and new bassist Tim Skold. “Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth” is a mob anthem where Manson claims the “why can’t we all just get along?” theory is bullshit. He vows that “my hate-pop won’t ever stop” and he means it. The title track has a great chorus but the song as a whole is a bit monotonous. “(s)AINT” is a scathing attack on a past lover (maybe ex-fiancee Rose McGowan??) with some pretty nasty lyrics. “Ka-boom Ka-boom” is a terrible song with some play on words for lyrics. “Slutgarden” and “Spade” are two more forgettable tracks. “Para-noir” features burlesque/fetish model Dita Von Teese (AKA Mrs. Marilyn Manson) carrying on for a tediously long six minutes about why she likes to have sex with him. “The Bright Young Things” gets the album back on track again with a heavy guitar riff from John 5 and a great vocal performance from Manson. “Better of Two Evils” and “Vodevil” are bitter songs directed at Manson’s critics. No matter how much the media comes down on him, he won’t change for anyone. In “Better of Two Evils”, he writes “Don’t try to lead me to temptation/ I’ve been delivered and I already know the way”. He continues his spite on “Vodevil” by claiming, “This isn’t music and we’re not a band/ We’re 5 middle fingers on a motherfucking hand”.
The booklet for the CD contains some disturbing photos of Manosn himself in various makeup. He is now sporting a metal dental plate and slicked back hair, and in some photos, he looks creepier than ever. These are just head shots but Manson goes from plain white makeup to what looks like a leather fetish mask, to the demon from THE EXORCIST! The CD inlay contains a full-frontal nude but distorted (DAMMIT!!) picture of Dita Von Teese, as well. My version of THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE comes with a bonus DVD of a 26 minute film by Manson called “Doppelherz”. This is one BIZARRE flick with flashing images of Manson applying black makeup to his face while a side-story features himself as a Nazi kidnapping what appear to be nude Siamese twins joined together at the back by a corset in a field. Running commentaries of random lyrics from the CD are read over an electronic beat for the full length of the film. If you’re a person who finds David Lynch movies too “mainstream”, “Doppelherz” is for you!
I’m glad Marilyn Manson returned to the heavy industrial metal that made him who he is. HOLY WOOD was his “agenda” album where he had to answer people who were coming down on him for everything that was wrong with America. On THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE, he relaxes a bit and gives us songs that are for the most part enjoyable. This isn’t his best album but it’s still better than most of the crap out there.