In the late 90’s Marilyn Manson released two albums that cemented his place in the rock world. His breakthrough album, Antichrist Superstar came out in 1996. This album was produced by Trent Reznor at Nothing Studios in New Orleans. The album was was met with a slew of controversy and excitement. It should also be noted that this was all part of a “rock opera” trilogy. Even though Antichrist was released first, it is the final installment of the trilogy. Holy Wood is actually the first. Antichrist had a real heavy industrial edge to it, along with a raw mentality that allowed it to have a cool, sinister and taunting feeling. There are so many songs on the album that are standouts besides just “The Beautiful People.” Songs like “Tourniquet,” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” (Which is the albums opener), “Cryptorchid,” Antichrist Superstar,” are all standouts.
Then in 1998, Manson released Mechanical Animals. This album has a much different feel to it that comes completely from left field. I’ve always sort of felt that Mechanical Animals was his David Bowie album, in the way his persona and the music changed. Originally, The Dust Brothers were going to collaborate with Manson, but nothing really came of those sessions. Later on Manson’s friend, Billy Corgan served as an unofficial music consultant for the band during these early stages. After playing a few of the early songs for him, Corgan advised the band that “This is definitely the right direction” but to “go all the way with it. Don’t just hint at it.” When it was time to go into the studio Michael Beinhorn was chased to produce that album. Beinhorn whose credits include Soundgarden’s Superunknown, was wrapping up work on Hole’s Celebrity Skin album before coming aboard for these sessions. Musically this album is a deep departure from Antichrist, but it is also one of the most thought provoking albums of Manson’s career along with his newest album The Pale Emperor. Songs like “The Dope Show” and “I Don’t Like The Drugs,” are fun and catchy and a typical singles, but then when you really delve into the album you come across songs like the very impressive “Coma White,” “The Speed Of Pain,” “Dissociative.” Those songs really make an impact on a entirely different level.
As you all know I’m a huge Trent Reznor fan, and you would think because of that I would pick Antichrist over Mechanical, but I actually like the songs better on Mechanical thought I love the production on Antichrist better. I think Michael Beinhorn is a horrible producer that does too many things to make it sound polished and compressed. So my pick for this debate is Mechanical Animals. Can you imagine what Mechanical would have sounded like had Trent done this one too?