Having really enjoyed "Antichrist Superstar" & "Mechanical Animals" I was rather hesitant to listen to this record which I remember listening to many years back, and not being particularly impressed. Whatever my thought were then, they are certainly not relevant now that I have connected with Manson's music. "Holy Wood" is the first of 3 records released in reverse order. Confusing, but conceptually these albums are linked and acclaimed as Manson's golden era, or creative peak, following a decline in popularity with later releases which I am considering checking out since Ive grown a lot of respect for a musician who's music is intelligent and thoughtful despite its grotesque and confrontational presentation through art and aesthetics.
Holy Wood is consistent with their style established so far, but represents a more condensed and metallic approach. The overall mood is darker and at times feels rather pessimistic through Manson's hopeless lyrics. The band bring a more traditional rock feeling forward with riff oriented guitars, either distorted or clean, being a bigger focus than the keys and synthetic sounds that brought a lot to the tracks on the past two records. The drum machine is the most diverse element, offering variety and creativity through different kits that guide the tracks they are utilized on with driving energy. The straight forward approach serves the record well, there is no shortage of ideas and the tone of the distorted guitars sounds ripe with hate. There a lot of aggressive energy on display focused through Manson's iconic lyrics.
"Well I'm not a slave, to a god, that doesn't exist. I'm not a slave, to a world, that doesn't give a shit". Lines like this got stuck deep in my mind and despite delivering some of his best hooks, I felt it came in smaller quantities with a lot of the better tracks appearing at the beginning of this record. Holy Wood has some of Manson's most aggressive, abrasive and catchy tracks, but across the course of the record there were quite a few numbers that couldn't quite match the intensity laid down by the love and fight songs. Overall this album offers up more of what I've grown to love about this band, but as an album it falls short of previous works.
Favorite Tracks: The Love Song, The Hate Song, The Death Song, Burning Flag