(Editor's Note: Evan Moore is an 18-year-old high-school senior in Northern Virginia. He runs his own online news website called SeemsLikeSalvation (www.nineinchnails.net/news/), dedicated to bands on Trent Reznor's Nothing Records label, such as Reznor's own Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Meat Beat Manifesto, 12 Rounds and Two. Having received an early copy of the new Marilyn Manson album, Mechanical Animals, Moore was set to the task of offering his impressions of the much-anticipated album.)
Mechanical Animals is so different from Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Smells Like Children (1995), it's frightening.
This album is 100 percent new. It's got new sounds, new machines and Manson actually sings on it, so you can tell it means a lot to him. It's a personal album, with lyrics that seem to delve into the shock-rocker's views on his own fame and its destructive powers.
Animals finds Manson, at times, emulating '70s-era David Bowie and doing away with the static noise and gothic sound of Antichrist. The shift towards pop is a dangerous move, but one that opens Manson up to a whole new world of listeners.
If his last album, Antichrist Superstar, was about religion, this one, due out Tuesday, is all about drugs. There's a little bit of God-talk, like "God is in the TV" on "Rock is Dead." He also sings about space a lot. However, drugs are clearly the theme. He even includes pictures of hypodermic needles and pill containers all over the booklet.
The hard-core fans, the ones with "Marilyn Manson" carved into their skin, are sure to buy it. Still, they might be shocked by the pop sounds and more-accessible melodies. There's even a song, "The Last Day on Earth," that sounds like something off the '80s new-wave The Wedding Singer soundtrack, with keyboards galore.
Mechanical Animals is filled with little surprises. The multimedia portion of the disc features two pictures of Manson's watercolor paintings of alien-like figures, plus a spooky hidden track -- a dark, horror-movie tune in which Manson speaks in an unintelligible static-laden voice.
This is an album that, like it or not, will take hard-core Manson fans, as well as the uninitiated, to places they never thought they would go.
Here is a step-by-step preview of each of the 14 tracks or "planes," as the album calls them, on Marilyn Manson's fourth release:
"Great Big White World"
"Great Big White World" starts off quietly. Softly playing strings rise with a slow drum beat after the second loop. Manson deliberately sings, "In space the stars are no nearer/ they just glitter like a morgue/ and I dreamed I was a spaceman/ Burned like a moth in a flame/ and our world was so fucking gone." The song is melancholy, though it later breaks into a loud, powerful solo before moving on. The chorus showcases Manson's voice as he screeches the words, "We used to love our selves."
"The Dope Show"
As the first single, this song really sticks out. The chorus stays with you, as do the images of a convulsing Manson body on the video to this song. This tune serves as a perfect intro to Manson's new sound.
Perhaps more than any other tune on the album, this song sounds like it belongs on Antichrist Superstar, at least for the first 20 seconds. It starts out loud and quickly dims as Manson sings, "We were neurophobic and perfect the day that we lost our souls." He really belts out the chorus: "But they'll never be good to you/ or bad to you/ they'll never be anything/ anything at all."
"Rock Is Dead"
Another song seemingly designed for radio play. It's catchy, fast, loud, heavy and crazy. What's most addictive about the song is not the words, however, but Manson's yelling-style singing. Throughout the song, as on Manson's cover of David Bowie's "Golden Years," from the Dead Man On Campus soundtrack, you hear Manson singing, "whap, whap, whap, whap."
Starting off slow as "Great Big White World" did, Manson sings similar lyrics as well, such as "I can tell you that they say in space/ That our earth is too gray/ But when the spirit is so digital/ The body acts this way." This a loud song, yet calm and quiet at the same time. With none of the usual Manson screeching, the song features powerful solos and is sure to please old Manson fans.
"Speed of Pain"
This one sounds so much like Billy Corgan's Smashing Pumpkins it's uncanny. Manson quietly whispers/sings, "They slit our throats/ Like we were flowers/ And our milk has been/ devoured." The chorus, "I wanna out-race the speed of pain for another day," is almost mechanical sounding. The drums pick up half-way through and Manson sings "The crack inside your fucking heart is me." As the end of the song kicks in, Manson becomes David Bowie, right down to the accent.
Fast and furious, loud and angry. Manson's screechy voice pierces through constantly. This song never lets up. It stays the same speed, while varying the techno beats, the squeaks and vibes, with Manson yelling, "Show me the dead stars/ All of them sing/ This is a riot religious and clean." At the end of this track, a machine-like voice says, "Ladies and Gentleman Omega and the Mechanical Animals," which is what Manson is calling himself this time around.
"I Want To Disappear"
This track sounds so much like those tracks off Portrait of an American Family (1994), it's like you're there all over again. Manson starts with the lyrics "Look at me now/ Got no religion/ look at me now/ I'm so vacant/ Look at me now/ Grew up to be a whore/ And I want it/ I believe it." As he starts a new line, the band goes silent and then resumes playing. It's effective, especially when they blast into the chorus, "Hey, and your mommies are lost now/ Hey, Daddy's someone else."
"I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)"
A hard one to explain. It's sort-of like a blues song, starting off with them singing the title, then playing with a "wah wah" pedal as Manson sings. This song features guitar-playing from ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper Dave Navarro. A standout moment is when the band shouts, "I don't like the drugs but the drugs like me/ I don't like the drugs, the drugs, the drugs." Manson sings so many provocative lines that fit perfectly. After five listens, it all begins to make sense.
"New Model No. 15"
Opening with looping noise, a fast drum beat and Manson yelling, "I'm as fake as a wedding cake," this one is going to rock live. It's something you just want to get up and sing along to, especially the chorus, "I'm the new/ I'm the new/ new model."
Starts out gothic until Manson begins singing, "Do, do, do, do, dooo, do, do, do, dooo." A computerized voice sings along at times, while Atari video-game noises distort the effect of Manson's voice. "Use me like a whore/ Relationships are such a bore/ Delete the ones that you've fucked," he sings.
The slowest track on the album, this one is a breakthrough for the usually manic Manson. It features a lazy bass and piano, all riding on a steady drum beat, with Manson singing almost unintelligibly in the background. The lyrics are evocative, but it's so offbeat for the already abnormal rocker that it sounds like a cover song. The tune reaches a crescendo at the end with a guitar solo that really grabs the listener, as Manson sings, "Shoot myself to love you/ If I loved myself I'd be shooting you."
"The Last Day on Earth"
This track sounds as if it's from the '80s. As Manson sings, you hear those famous keyboard strokes that artists such as David Bowie used in the earlier years, with high-pitched keyboard squealing. Manson uses many computerized voices as he sings, "I know it's the last day on Earth/ We'll be together while the planet dies." The song picks up speed -- and a more modern sound -- as it reaches its finale. As it closes, Manson sings, "We'll never say good-bye." High whistling and voices mumble for about 30 seconds as the track fades. Disturbing.
A 15-second solo of soft guitar plays as Manson sings a pretty, whispered melody. The song also relies heavily on the chorus: "A pill to make you numb/ A pill to make you numb/ A pill to make you anybody else/ But all the drugs in this world/ won't save her from herself." As the song closes, a subtle solo kicks in, then Manson and the band return and the beat repeats itself to the end.