90’s Rating: 10/10
2020 Rating: 7/10
Antichrist Superstaris the second full length from Florida industrial/goth rock legend Marilyn Manson. The first release in the Antichrist Superstar/Mechanical Animals/Holy Wood triptych, this 1996 album started my infatuation with Marilyn Manson when I stumbled upon it in a CD Plus in the early/mid 2000’s. From the gross looking album cover to the “three cycles” concept to the controversy associated with the band, Antichrist Superstar was the perfect catalyst for me wearing nothing but black for the next several years.
At the time, Antichrist Superstar slapped hard; I spun this disc to death. On several occasions, I would even listen to those 81 silent tracks before the hidden track just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important to the concept of the album. But, in the year of our dark lord 2020, is this Marilyn Manson milestone release still worth listening to? In a word: kinda.
Antichrist Superstar starts off with the high-energy song “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” and, uhhhh, who else forgot that Manson drops the N word in each chorus? Between the relatively hard R’s and lines like “I’ve got abortions in my eyes,” this opener just stinks of nonconforming desperation. Between “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and the majorly overplayed “Beautiful People,” I’m starting to wonder why I liked this thing so much.
By the time “Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World” hits, however, it’s all starting to come back to me. The instrumental has some definite nu metal cheese to it, but the industrial vibe that would become more prominent on albums like 1998’s Mechanical Animals is part of what drew me to the band’s music in the first place. Couple that with Manson’s rough, brooding vocals in the chorus and I’ve already forgotten about the first two tracks. Songs like “Little Horn” or “1996” bring that same level of intensity, but with a greater emphasis on Daisy Berkowitz’ guitar playing.
Speaking of Berkowitz, let’s get to what was, and what still is, my favourite song on Antichrist Superstar. “Wormboy” is one of the weirder songs in Manson’s discography and it’s not due to any gimmicky music video or live antics surrounding the tune. Of the entire track listing, “Wormboy” is said to be Daisy Berkowitz’ baby. The oddball guitar riffs and unnatural changes in tone throughout the song are off-putting in a really good way. Placing this song in between straightforward songs like “Deformography” and “Mister Superstar” only adds to “Wormboy” being a true standout track.
So, is Antichrist Superstar still worth the listen? I would say so. The lyrics can come across as extremely try-hard at times and some of the music can be a little cookie cutter, but there’s still some real charm to this ’96 release. I appreciate that the band held onto at least some of the alt metal vibe from Portrait of an American Family while moving towards the more industrial style they’d become better known for. As far as Antichrist Superstar’s place in the tryptic, I think I still prefer Holy Wood, at least until the rearviewmirror article on that album…
Written by Justin
*Edited by Dominic Abate