Marilyn Manson, Mechanical Animals
Nothing/Interscope, 1998, Cat. No. 90273
Half of the record is performed by and from the perspective of Marilyn Manson; the band and the man.
These songs were written with the intent of expressing the perception both entities had upon their arrival and unexpected acceptance into Hollywood and its glamorous, manufactured culture following their complete change in sound and aesthetic; from gritty, nihilistic abrasiveness to glittering glam and decadence. It was as though it were cinematic; a change from black and white to colour.
On the heels of one of the darkest and most confrontational albums of the decade, Mechanical Animals was a follow-up which both alienated and attracted fans; testament to such a drastic change in a band’s direction that it is still, arguably, unrivalled in the history of music.
It can be said that these seven tracks comprise the “Alpha” counterpart to the “Omēga” of the record’s second half.
Both portions are the work of unique personalities; Alpha feels and creates, while Omēga is manufactured and exploited.
As such, one half of the album is very honest and introspective, while the other is a blatant parody of the cookie-cutter gloss which dominates the music industry today. Alpha is Marilyn Manson’s journey through the corridors of the artist’s heart, and Omēga is the clogging of the arteries in Corporate America’s.
1. Great Big White World
3. The Speed Of Pain
4. The Last Day On Earth
6. Mechanical Animals
7. Coma White
OMĒGA AND THE MECHANICAL ANIMALS
The second half of the record is performed by a fictional band called Omēga and the Mechanical Animals.
In direct homage to David Bowie’s fictional ensemble, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, this collection of doped- and sexed-up musicians is a troupe of aliens who have fallen to Earth and have been captured by the music industry.
Offered to the public as an entertaining drug to numb society of its wary nerves, the band is as mechanical as their fans, and their leader, Omēga, the very paragon of exploitation and addiction.
On Earth, Omēga succumbs to each of the world’s pleasures and vices, but none more so than drugs. Seeking, no doubt, to cope with the ridiculous pressures of fame, Omēga, who is both sexless and ageless, falls for Coma White; a drug, a girl, a boy, a substance, an idea, which eventually kills. Eventually, Coma White kills her, his, its self, and Omēga is devastated.
Each of the seven tracks serves dually as satire of what Marilyn Manson feels constitutes the output of the music industry, and to express Omēga’s journey. Noticeably, these tracks have a more electronic and “space-age” production, rife with campy utterances and sounds not found in those from the perspective of Alpha.
Even aliens adapt, and novelty becomes regularity.
1. The Dope Show
2. Rock Is Dead
3. I Want To Disappear
4. Fundamentally Loathsome
5. I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)
6. New Model No. 15
7. User Friendly
As with each of Marilyn Manson’s albums, all of which are concept albums, numerology and esoteric symbolism permeate Mechanical Animals.
The importance of the number 15 and its multiples, 1, 3, and 5, is unquestionable, but even ten years later, undetermined. The spelling of the band’s name in the artwork; the liner notes and graphics; even the number of buttons on Manson’s clothing and fingers he’s showing in some photographs, show 15 dominates the album as equally as drugs do.
Numerology is just part of the many calculated efforts Manson has made to make Mechanical Animals that which it is: a drug itself. The addictive fervour the search for its hidden meaning inspires is all too similar to, and veritably a commentary on, the nature of drug use and celebrity culture.
The album was recorded with the intent to play coherently both forwards and reversed; as well, the artwork on the disc itself implies it is designed to be a pill of sorts.
Its method of consumption is left to the listener to decide, and the options are numerous. Track-list variations, with only some versions of the record containing Manson’s intended character divisions; the innumerable sonic layers; the direct 1970s musical influences; the lyrical, visual, and occultist allusions confirm Mechanical Animals can be consumed infinitely.
15. Untitled (Hidden Track)*
*Intended to serve as a musical and conceptual bridge from Alpha to Omēga, and to continue the numerological symbolism.