1998 Rating: 6/10
2020 Rating: 8/10
In 1998, mall-goth, poster-boy Marilyn Manson released the second album in the band’s eventual Antichrist Superstar/Mechanical Animals/Holy Wood triptych. At whatever point I first heard Mechanical Animals, I can remember being a bit let down. My edgy teenage self couldn’t get past that my shock-rock idol had shifted away from the industrial metal style of Antichrist Superstar and Portrait of an American Family and started to go soft on me. But, despite my musical tastes growing through adolescence and adulthood, Mechanical Animals is still the record in the triptych that I return to the least. If you can believe it, my teenage judgement does not hold up; turns out that Mechanical Animals rips.
The album starts off with “Great Big White World,” a slow-paced, dynamically diverse tune with some captivating guitar and keyboard melodies throughout. This opening track also features a stronger vocal harmony presence, something found in other bangers like “I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)” or “The Last Day on Earth.” Other standouts include the groovy titular track, “Mechanical Animals,” the slow building tune, “Fundamentally Loathsome,” and the very sombre closing track, “Coma White.”
Not all of Marilyn Manson’s musical experimentation pays off, however. “Rock Is Dead” is a bouncy, up-beat, glam rock-adjacent tune that sucks just as much today as it did the first time I heard it. With lazy lyrics and bland instrumentation, this song is still one I want to skip. “I Want to Disappear” doesn’t fare any better with a pedestrian song structure that sounds like it would be right at home in an edgy cheerleading routine. Both songs lean way too hard into the pop lane without the catchy choruses to make things worthwhile.
Mechanical Animals is a really interesting record from Marilyn Manson. Sure, it’s on the lighter side of things, but it shows a sense of growth from the band. It’s not a perfect album by any means, but it is one that I will definitely be revisiting more often. As for Mechanical Animals’ ranking in the triptych, I’d put it ahead of Antichrist Superstar but below Holy Wood… at least for now.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Danielle Kenedy