When Marilyn Manson became the “antichrist”

The new, awaited Reverend album (the tenth one) has finally a title: ‘Heaven’s Upside Down’. Waiting for it, this is the story of his 1996 masterpiece…

The original concept for ‘Antichrist Superstar’ – one of the most famous 90’s rock album – came to Marilyn Manson (real name: Brian Warner) during a lucid dream. As the Reverend once explained to the American edition of Rolling Stone: «The idea for my second album came to me from a strange series of images. One of these was the following: the world wasn’t there any more and I was the only survivor».

Antichrist Superstar’, which was released on October 8, 1996 on Nothing/Interscope (Nothing was the label created by Trent Reznor to give visibility to his sonic experiments) was an instant success. It sold 132 thousand copies in its first week, going on to sell 7 million copies worldwide, at least one million 900 thousand of which in the US alone.

Manson, during the album recording sessions, came up against an existential problem. One day he wrote a song – ‘Little horn’, the fifth track – and somewhat bewildered on the author’s mind. «Sometimes I ask myself – he pondered – if I have turned into an actual fictional character or if I am simply writing about myself: it’s all so mixed up in my head! Did the so called Antichrist Superstar really create Marilyn Manson as a vehicle to bring him to power? You know, I really believe that there’s no distinction between the story I’ve told in the album and what normally happens in real life. Basically, this album talks about us who are becoming the greatest rock band in the world and, basically, that’s what’s actually taking place». An intriguing point of view, isn’t it?

Still today ‘Antichrist Superstar’ symbolises the first part of a backwards trilogy (to understand the storyline better you would need to listen to 98’s ‘Mechanical Animals’ and the marvellous 2000’s ‘Holy Wood’ starting with the last and going backwards to ‘Antichrist Superstar’), and sounds like a blade slicing through the layer of filth. A dense, enveloping sound, guitars ingeniously filtered. In the best tradition of industrial rock, sure, but not chaotic and scraping like certain tour de forces from Ministry, Skinny Puppy and KMFDM.

And is it a work of genius? Probably. After all, the sound is forged by a real band which pulls out all the plugs. As confirmed by Twiggy Ramirez, bass player and Manson’s loyal friend, who left the band in the new Millennium when the Reverend met Dita Von Teese and fell in love with her and the entire Burlesque movement. «The day I met Brian – says Ramirez – I knew we would get on like a house on fire. When the group started to get popular, I realised that my place was at his side. Otherwise I would have ended up destroying everything myself!».

Manson, in 1996, obviously had utter faith in the guys he surrounded himself with: producers Sean Beaven and Trent Reznor first and foremost, but also Ramirez, Daisy Berkowitz (guitar), Madonna Wayne Gacy (keyboard) and Ginger Fish (drums). This was the real core of an unforgettable album and the beginning of a cult that still endures in 2017. Waiting for ‘Heaven’s Upside Down’, of course. «The recordings were done: I’ll be on tour from July onwards», said Manson some weeks ago. Without adding a release date.