Marilyn Manson Gets More Mercurial

Shock rocker shows off shaven head, discloses album title, performs new songs online.

Marilyn Manson took to the Web on Wednesday to show off his shaven head, divulge his new mercury symbol and disclose the title and themes of his namesake band's forthcoming album.

The four-minute webcast on also featured clips of the shock rocker's band performing two new songs in a studio.

The upcoming album will be In the Shadow of the Valley of Death, a pale-skinned, black-clad Manson told viewers. The band is recording the LP in Death Valley, Calif., and "various undisclosed locations," he said.

In a posting on the site that appeared prior to the webcast, Manson stated that he and his bandmates have written more than 100 songs for the album, which, he said, sounds unlike its predecessors. "It is the most violent yet beautiful creation we have accomplished," he wrote. The frontman is producing the effort with Bon Harris (Nitzer Ebb) and Dave Sardy (Barkmarket, Slayer).

The performance clips included in the webcast began with a rock number, whose chorus featured Manson reciting the familiar Beatles lyric, "You say you want a revolution?" The second song excerpt was more of a ballad and featured Manson at the microphone appearing to read off a lyric sheet. "Mommy dear, tell me please, is the world really round?" he sang in a voice that sounded strained. "Tell me where is the bluebird of happiness found?/ Tell me why is the sky up above so blue?/ When you were a child did your mommy tell you?"

In his address to fans, the singer said the songs on the follow-up to Mechanical Animals (1998) will hint at the story line of his film "Holy Wood," which will be out sometime next year. "This [album] is the final piece of a triptych that I began with Antichrist Superstar," Manson said, referring to the band's 1996 album.

Manson also announced that he has assumed the symbol of mercury, explaining that his Mechical Animals character Omega is a thing of the past.

"The character of Omega has been disposed of, as he was a ruse to lure commercial mall-goers into the web of destruction that I've always planned since the beginning," he said. "That's not to say any of the songs on Mechanical Animals were not sincere. Those were all great songs that I loved very much. The character I personified was more of a satire that people misinterpreted as reality."

Mercury, Manson explained, is "most commonly used in alchemy." Alchemy is a pseudo-science begun in the Middle Ages whose aim was to turn base metals into gold and discover the elixir of youth. It is centered on the belief that there are four basic elements — fire, air, earth and water — and three essential ones — salt, sulfur and mercury.

Manson encouraged fans to do their own research on mercury, advising them that "from now on, you will recognize me by this symbol and this symbol alone."