This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
“This is the new s—t,” primal-screams shock-rocker Marilyn Manson seconds into his fifth studio album. Well, he coulda fooled me. ’Cause frankly, at first, The Golden Age of Grotesque sounds like the same old crap he’s been regurgitating for a while now.
You’ve got the same glam-slam aggression and swagger. The same industo-metal drilling and pounding. The same goth-rock spookiness. The same-creepy whisper-to-a-bloodcurdling-scream vocals. The same black-hearted odes to twisted sex and drugs and religion and death and politics. And the same bad Halloween-costume getups, which now apparently include Mickey Mouse ears, sailor suits and blackface. (I don’t even wanna know what that’s about.)
But even with all that against it, The Golden Age of Grotesque still has a whole lot going for it. Like the fact that even when he’s basically imitating himself, Marilyn is still tons more authentic, potent and unsettling than all the other Manson wannabes out there. On top of that, he can still write one helluva hooky chorus — not to mention some striking lyrics. Sure, the former Brian Warner has always had a snappy turn of phrase. But on these 15 songs he takes it to a whole new level. Most of these rhymes come packing more grim gags than a trilogy of slasher flicks — there’s “Don’t try to lead me to temptation / I’ve been delivered and I already know the way” and “This isn’t music and we’re not a band / We’re five middle fingers on a motherf—ing hand” and my personal fave, “I’ve got an F and a C and a K too / The only thing missing is a bitch like you.”
Fittingly, tracks like mOBSCENE, (s)AINT and (spade) offer some adventurous typography to go with Manson’s intellectually arty verbal deconstructionism. Perhaps most significantly, though, on Grotesque Manson also gets more personal than ever before, repeatedly writing from the perspective of a bitter, betrayed lover. He claims they weren’t inspired by his bustup with Rose McGowan, but it’s hard to believe lyrics like “F— you because I loved you / F— you for loving you too” just came out of thin air. The Antichrist Superstar has feelings? Now that, my friends, is some wild new s—.