Volume 97, Issue 1
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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CD REVIEW: Marilyn Manson

A Dandy Antichrist

Gazette file photo
CALLING ALL FREAKS. Manson and the gang reinvent themselves in The Golden Age of Grotesque.

Marilyn Manson
The Golden Age of Grotesque
Nothing/Interscope



There isn't much Marilyn Manson can do to shock people these days. With each artistic evolution – from generic, leather-clad goth rocker in Portrait of an American Family to Antichrist extraordinaire in Antichrist Superstar to sexually ambiguous glam god in Mechanical Animals – Manson seems to have pushed the empire of freakdom to its outer limits.

Now, Manson takes on the role of the "Arch Dandy of Dada" for his latest concept album, The Golden Age of Grotesque. Drawing upon influences from the cabaret circuit, burlesque, Dadaism and Berlin, Manson and his freshly bleached blonde bandmates – minus longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez – are poised and ready to enter a new era.

Although the lyrics on GAOG tend to be glaringly self-conscious in songs such as "Doll Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag" and "The Golden Age of Grotesque," the accompanying guitar and synth-work is risky and innovative. For those who miss the old, "real" Manson, GAOG delivers in the second half of the album, as the emotionally charged verses of songs such as "Spade" and "Para-noir" successfully rise above the artificiality of Manson's "Grotesque Burlesque."

With his contrived and ever-shifting image, Manson seems to have an exceptional talent for alienating audiences and GAOG offers no exception to the rule. However, if you're able to break through the shell of cabaret-style fantasy Manson has built around himself and glimpse into the inner workings of the brain that designed it, you'll see the Antichrist and the Arch Dandy are, and always have been, one and the same.

–Megan O'Toole

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2002 THE GAZETTE