- Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) Studio album by Marilyn Manson Released November 13, 2000 Recorded
- Death Valley, California
- The Mansion
- (Laurel Canyon, California)
Genre Industrial metal, alternative metal Length 68:07 Label Nothing, Interscope Producer Marilyn Manson, Dave Sardy Marilyn Manson chronology
- The Last Tour on Earth
- Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
- The Golden Age of Grotesque
Singles from Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) is the fourth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released in November 2000 through Nothing and Interscope Records. The album marked a return to the industrial and alternative metal style of the band's earlier efforts, after the modernized glam rock sound of Mechanical Animals. As their first release following the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, Holy Wood served as Marilyn Manson's rebuttal to the accusations leveled against them in the wake of that incident. The band's frontman, Marilyn Manson, described the record as "a declaration of war".
A rock opera concept album, it is the final instalment in a trilogy that includes Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. After its release Manson revealed that the over-arching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Holy Wood, therefore, begins the story. It was written in the singer's former home in the Hollywood Hills and recorded in several "undisclosed" locations, including Death Valley and Laurel Canyon.
Upon its release Holy Wood received mixed to positive reviews, with many critics noting that, while ambitious, it was lacking in execution. Initially the album was not as commercially successful as the group's two previous outings, taking three years to attain a gold certification from the RIAA. Nevertheless, with worldwide sales of over 9 million copies as of 2011, it has become one of the most successful of their career. It spawned three singles and an abandoned film project that was modified into the as-yet unreleased Holy Wood novel. Marilyn Manson supported the album with the controversial Guns, God and Government Tour.
On November 10, 2010, British rock magazine Kerrang! published a 10th-anniversary commemorative piece in which they called the album "Manson's finest hour ... A decade on, there has still not been as eloquent and savage a musical attack on the media and mainstream culture ... [It is] still scathingly relevant [and] a credit to a man who refused to sit and take it, but instead come out swinging."
Background and development
During the 1990s Marilyn Manson and his eponymous band established themselves as one of the most controversial rock acts in music history. The band became a household name with the mainstream success of their albums Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Mechanical Animals (1998). By the time of their Rock Is Dead Tour in 1999, the band's outspoken frontman had become a culture war iconoclast and a rallying icon for alienated youth.
As their popularity rose, the transgressive and confrontational nature of their music and imagery angered social conservatives. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum lobbied to have their performances banned, citing rumors that the shows contained animal sacrifices, bestiality, and rape. Their concerts were picketed by religious advocates and parent groups, who asserted that their music had a corrupting influence on youth culture by inciting "rape, murder, blasphemy and suicide".
On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold took the lives of 12 students and one teacher, while injuring 21 others, before taking their own lives. In the aftermath of the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history, the band became a "scapegoat". Early news media reports alleged that the shooters were fans of the band, and had worn the group's concert t-shirts during the massacre. Speculation in the national media and among the public led to Manson's music and imagery being blamed for inciting Harris and Klebold. However, later reports pointed out that the two were not fans of the band, and considered them "a joke". In spite of this, the group—alongside other bands and forms of popular entertainment such as movies and video games—received widespread criticism from religious, political, and entertainment industry figures.
A day after the shootings, Michigan State Senator Dale Shugars attended the band's concert at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to conduct research for a proposed bill which would require parental warnings on concert tickets and promotional material for any performer that had released a record bearing the Parental Advisory sticker in the last five years. He concluded that the band was "part of a drug-cultural type of thing, with a subculture of violence and killing and hatred" and added that "[they] can be part of the blame". During their appearance on Meet the Press on April 25, 1999, conservative pundit William Bennett and longtime Manson critic US Senator Joseph Lieberman claimed the group bore responsibility for the massacre. Three days later the city of Fresno, California, unanimously passed a resolution condemning "Marilyn Manson or any other negative entertainer who encourages anger and hate ... as an offensive threat to the children of this community." On the same day, the band announced the postponement of the last five North American dates of their tour out of respect for the victims and their grieving families.
The following day ten US Senators, spearheaded by Sam Brownback of Kansas, signed and sent a letter to Edgar Bronfman Jr.—president of Seagrams, which owned Interscope Records—requesting the voluntary cessation of his company's distribution to children of "music that glorifies violence." The letter cited Marilyn Manson, among other bands, as producing songs which "eerily reflect" the actions of Harris and Klebold. Later in the day, the band announced the outright cancellation of the remaining shows. On May 1, 1999, Manson published a Rolling Stone magazine op-ed piece title "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?" as a response to the accusations. In it, he commented,I chose not to jump into the media frenzy and defend myself, though I was begged to be on every single TV show in existence. I didn't want to contribute to these fame-seeking journalists and opportunists looking to fill their churches or to get elected [during the US presidential election of 2000] because of their self-righteous finger-pointing. They want to blame entertainment? Isn't religion the first real entertainment? People dress up in costumes, sing songs and dedicate themselves to eternal fandom ... I'd like [the] media commentators to ask themselves, because their coverage of [Columbine] was some of the most gruesome entertainment any of us have seen.
On May 4, 1999, a hearing on the marketing and distribution practices of violent content to minors by the television, music, film, and video game industries was conducted before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The committee heard testimony from cultural observers, professors, and mental-health professionals that included William Bennett and the Archbishop of Denver, Reverend Charles J. Chaput. Participants criticized the band, its label-mate Nine Inch Nails, and the 1999 film The Matrix for their alleged contribution to the environment that made tragedies like Columbine possible. The committee requested that the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Department of Justice investigate the entertainment industry's marketing practices to minors.
Following the conclusion of the European and Japanese festival leg of the tour on August 8, 1999, the band retreated from public view. The album's early development was marked by Manson's three-month seclusion at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The singer spent this time vacillating on how to respond to the accusations. He admitted that the maelstrom caused him to reconsider whether to continue pursuing his career: "[t]here was a bit of trepidation, [in] deciding, 'Is it worth it? Are people understanding what I'm trying to say? Am I even gonna be allowed to say it?' Because I definitely had every single door shut in my face ... there were not a lot of people who stood behind me." He told Alternative Press that he felt his safety was threatened, to the point where he "could be shot Mark David Chapman-style." Manson decided that it was less prudent for a controversial artist to allow his detractors to use his work (and entertainment in general) as a scapegoat, and began work on a new album as a more extensive counterattack.
Recording and production
Manson began writing material for the album as early as 1995, prior to the release of Antichrist Superstar. Initially the material consisted of loosely scattered ideas. Manson isolated himself in his attic, where the early material was worked into a usable shape. At the conclusion of Manson's three-month hiatus the band embarked on a year of writing and development of the material. Band members maintained a low profile; Manson stated that their official web site would "be my only contact with humanity."
The album is the group's most collaborative effort to date, with everyone contributing to the songwriting process, resulting in a more unified sound. Most of the effort was shared by Twiggy Ramirez, John 5, and Marilyn Manson; keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy provided input on the songs "President Dead" and "Cruci-Fiction in Space", while Ginger Fish provided all of the drum work. Manson said that his songwriting sessions with John 5 were very focused; most of the songs were complete before being brought to the band for consideration, where they were enthusiastically received. In contrast, his sessions with Ramirez were far less rigorous, as the two experimented with absinthe. During the process the band wrote a hundred pieces, of which 25 or 30 were developed into songs. Of these, 19 tracks were selected for the album.
Recording took place in several "undisclosed" locations, including Death Valley and Rick Rubin's The Mansion Studio in Laurel Canyon. Locations were chosen for the atmosphere they were intended to impart to the music. Mix engineer Dave Sardy co-produced the album with Manson. Bon Harris, of seminal Electronic body music group Nitzer Ebb, supplied programming and pre-production editing. Manson announced on December 16, 1999, that the album was progressing under the working title "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" and would be represented by the alchemical symbol for Mercury.
The band's numerous excursions to Death Valley were undertaken to "imprint the feeling of the desert into [the band's] minds", in order to avoid composing songs that sounded artificial. Experimental recordings and "acoustic" songs were recorded using live instrumentation. Manson later explained that the acoustic songs were only "acoustic" in the sense of not being produced electrically; the album's sonic landscape is fundamentally "electronic". Harris' programming skills proved instrumental, as the band recorded found and natural sounds, which he manipulated into new sonic elements.
The band rented recording time at The Mansion Studio, as its cavernous rooms are suitable for recording drums. The band found the space inspiring, and spent a lot of time there; they found they could accomplish more there than in the limited space of Manson's home studio. Ramirez later had blurry recollections of the sessions; he found there were "a lot of different emotions racing around [us]". The house, which once belong to escape artist Harry Houdini, is rumored to be haunted. Gacy said that he spent the majority of his time working on a computer and synthesizer, "mess[ing] around with prime number loops where they only intersect every three days and I'd check up on what kind of music they'd be making. You never know what's going to happen." In contrast, Fish worked constantly; the bulk of his contributions to the recording process took place at The Mansion.
On February 23, 2000, Manson delivered a 20-minute lecture, via satellite, at a current events convention titled "DisinfoCon 2000", aimed at exposing and dispelling disinformation. Six days later the album was officially titled Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). By April 12, 2000, the band had reached the final stages of recording, and Manson posted footage of the recording studio. In pre-release interviews he noted that the record would be "a very sharp pencil" that would appeal to Marilyn Manson fans.
Novel and film
Manson's ambitions for the project initially included a film of the same name which would explore the album's backstory. In July 1999 he had reportedly entered negotiations with New Line Cinema to produce and distribute the film and its soundtrack. At the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards in Dublin, Ireland, where the band was to perform on November 11, he revealed film's title and his projected production plans. He also met with Chilean avant-garde film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky at the event to discuss the possibility of working on the film, although no final decision was made. By February 29, 2000, the deal had fallen through due to Manson's reservations that New Line Cinema was taking the film in a direction that would not have "retained his artistic vision."
Abandoning his attempt to bring Holy Wood to the big screen, Manson instead announced plans to put out two books to accompany the album. The first was a "graphic and phantasmagoric" novelized adaptation, intended to be released shortly after the record by ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins. The style of the novel was inspired by the authors William S. Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, and Philip K. Dick. It was to be followed by a coffee table book of images created for the project.
In an interview with Manson in December 2000 novelist Chuck Palahniuk briefly mentioned the Holy Wood novel, and complimented its style. The book was due for release in the spring of 2001. Neither book has yet been released, allegedly due to a publishing dispute.
The album's plot is a "parable" that takes place in a thinly-veiled satire of modern America called "Holy Wood", which Manson has described as a Disneyesque amusement park the size of a city, where the main attraction is violence and sex. Its literary foil is "Death Valley", which is used as "a metaphor for the outcast and the imperfect of the world."
The central character is its ill-fated protagonist "Adam Kadmon", a figure borrowed from the Kabbalah, in which he is described as the "Primal Man". In the similar Sufic and Alevi philosophies, he is described as the "Perfect or Complete Man"—an archetype for humanity. He undertakes a journey out of Death Valley and into Holy Wood. Idealistic and naïve, he attempts a subversive revolution through music.
While disenchanted when his revolution is consumed by Holy Wood's ideology of "Guns, God and Government", he is co-opted into their culture of death and fame, where celebrity worship, violence, and scapegoatism are held as the moral values of a religion rooted in martyrdom. In this religion dead celebrities are venerated into saints and President John F. "Jack" Kennedy is idolized as the modern-day Christ.
This religion, called "Celebritarianism", is a deliberate parallel of Christianity. The intention is to critique the dead-celebrity phenomenon in American culture and the role that the Crucifixion of Jesus plays as its blueprint. This concept was extended to the worldwide Guns, God and Government Tour that supported the album; the tour's logo was a rifle and handguns arranged to resemble the Christian cross.
Manson told Rolling Stone that the storyline is semi-autobiographical. While it can be viewed on several levels, Manson states the simplest interpretation is to see it as a story about an angry youth whose revolution becomes commercialized, which leads him to "destroy the thing he has created, which is himself."
Violence is the central subject of the record. The material explores this theme by taking a critical look at America's cultural obsession with firearms, death, and fame, and its ramifications with respect to the Columbine tragedy. Manson sees the root causes of Columbine as gun culture, conservative American Christianity, and traditional family values. The album illustrates the harmful roles they play in the glorification and acceptance of wholesale violence in "mainstream" culture. In the album these factors are referred to by the slogan "Guns, God and Government." Seeing similarities between the tumultuous and culturally-defining Cold War period of 1960s America and the 1990s, Manson draws numerous allegories to that decade and other events and figures in pop culture history. Music journalist Charlotte Robinson pointed out that it is difficult to assess the "narrative's effectiveness" without the book and film, and stated that "the album doesn't tell much of a story, instead presenting variations on the same themes."
Manson was drawn to The Beatles' White Album due to its purported role in the Charles Manson 'Family' murders and parallels he saw between that incident and Columbine. Manson said, "[It] had a lot of very subversive messages on it. Ones they intended and ones that may've [sic] been misinterpreted by [convicted mass murder conspirator] Charles Manson". It was the first piece of music to be blamed for inspiring violence: "When you've got 'Helter Skelter' [taken from a Beatles song of the same name] written in blood on someone's wall, it's a little more damning than anything I've been blamed for." He appreciates the record's power, and it was inspirational towards his album's concept. Holy Wood, he said, "is a tribute to what that record did in history."
Several music reviewers also noted similarities between the anti-hero character of Adam Kadmon and Charles Manson. Marilyn Manson echoed this assessment, and described Holy Wood as a declaration of war on the entertainment industry, "their self-congratulatory attitude, their beliefs that they can never do wrong, ... that they're the center of the universe." He further articulated that "[i]n one way it's defending Hollywood, and in another way it's attacking it for not being brave enough."
A substantial amount of the record analyzes the cultural role of Jesus Christ and the iconography of his crucifixion as the origin of celebrity. The album appraises "our relationship with Christ, and how we outgrew that." He states that where in the past he critiqued religion, with this album accepts the story, and looks for things he could relate to. He discovered Christ was a revolutionary figure—a person who was killed for having dangerous opinions, and was later exploited and merchandised by the church. Manson notes the irony of "religious people who indict entertainment as being violent", because the crucifixion is a consummate icon of sex and violence which made Jesus "the first rock star". He feels that the exploitation of Christ as "the first celebrity" made religion the root of all entertainment.
Christ's death is compared to Abraham Zapruder's film of the JFK Assassination, which Manson observed as "the only thing that's happened in modern times to equal the crucifixion." He sarcastically described the historic home movie as a "good clip of mankind's generosity to share his violence with the world in such a cinematic way". Manson stresses the film's cultural importance and notes the irony of showing such violence on the news while complaining about violence in the entertainment industry. He watched the clip numerous times as a child, and finds it the most violent thing he had ever seen. Juxtaposing Christ and Kennedy, he posited,Christ was the blue-print for celebrity. He was the first celebrity, or rock star if you want to look at it that way, and [dying on the cross] he became this image of sexuality and suffering. He’s literally marketed—A crucifix is no different than a concert T-shirt in some ways. I think for America, in my lifetime, John F. Kennedy kind of took the place of that [as a modern-day Christ] in some ways. [After being murdered on TV], he became lifted up as this icon and this Christ figure [by America].
Manson also cites John Lennon as an assassination icon, and uses the album to criticize the news media's veneration of people into media martyrdom, and the tendency to turn death into spectacle to cater to the American public's appetite for violence, tragedy, and celebrity. He uses this to rebut claims that Marilyn Manson's music was responsible for Columbine. He wonders how the media would have covered the crucifixion, and linked these observations to Columbine during an interview on the O'Reilly Factor. Bill O'Reilly argued that "disturbed kids" who lack direction from responsible parents could misinterpret the message of his music to be, in fact, an endorsement of the mentality that "when I'm dead [then] everybody's going to know me." Manson responded:Well I think that's a very valid point and I think that it's a reflection of, not necessarily this programme but of television in general, that if you die and enough people are watching you become a martyr, you become a hero, you become well known. So when you have these things like Columbine, and you have these kids who are angry and they have something to say and no one's listening, the media sends a message that says if you do something loud enough and it gets our attention then you will be famous for it. Those kids ended up on the cover of Time magazine [twice[N 1]], the media gave them exactly what they wanted. That's why I never did any interviews around that time when I was being blamed for it because I didn't want to contribute to something that I found to be reprehensible.
In spite of the many references to, and thematic fascination with, the three iconic men, Manson was reluctant to draw any comparison between them and himself, which he said would have amounted to pretentiousness. Instead he volunteered, "[w]hat I did find was parallels in their stories and my story, and I tried to maybe learn from their mistakes and what they tried to do ... You realise you can't change the world and you can only change yourself, and I think that's what [they] found out." He further added, "[f]or me it was about learning from that and trying to break the evolution of man [since] it's man's nature to be violent."
During pre-release interviews Manson stated that Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was intended to be the "industrial White Album ... in the sense that it's very experimental. I play a lot of keyboards, we switched things around, wrote in the desert ... it's experimental and when I think of experimental I think of The White Album." The 1969 Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed, another source of inspiration, was written in the same house where he wrote Holy Wood.
Sonically, Manson said the record was "arrogant in an art rock sense", yet it turned out to be the "heaviest" record the band has done. "It needs to be to complete the trilogy," said Manson. The majority of the songs contain three or four parts, similar to art rock, due to the way that the story is told. The band took great care to avoid being "self-indulgent." Manson contended that the record is entertaining and pleasing. "Art rock is only self indulgent if it bores you." According to CMJ New Music Monthly, the songs are "angry and complex." Rolling Stone magazine noted that "on such songs as 'Target Audience', 'Disposable Teens' and 'Cruci-Fiction in Space', [the band] dismantles the slick, glam-tinged sound of [Mechanical] Animals in favor of the more brutal industrial-goth grind of his first [two] albums."
Similar to Antichrist Superstar, Holy Wood utilizes a compositional device called the song cycle structure, which divides the record into four movements—A: In the Shadow, D: The Androgyne, A: Of Red Earth and M: The Fallen—to form the framework of Kadmon's story. The storyline unfolds in a multi-tiered progression of extended metaphors and allusions playing in Manson's psyche. For instance, the album's title was not just a reference to the Hollywood sign but also to "the tree of knowledge that Adam took the first fruit from when he fell out of paradise, the wood that Christ was crucified on, the wood that [Lee Harvey] Oswald's rifle is made from and the wood that so many coffins are made of."
"GodEatGod" follows Adam as he contemplates in the desert. "The Love Song" was written as an anthem for Holy Wood's religion of Celebritarianism. Manson explained the idea for the song comes from his observation that "Love Song" is one of the most common titles in music, but weaves in a metaphor about guns: "I was suggesting with the lyrics that the father is the hand, the mother is the gun, and the children are the bullets. Where you shoot them is your responsibility as parents." The chorus is a rhetorical take on an American bumper sticker, which asks: "Do you love your God, gun, government?"
UK music magazine Kerrang! described "The Fight Song" as a "playground punk anthem." Manson noted that the song's theme is Adam's desire to be a part of Holy Wood; the track is inherently autobiographical. Speaking broadly, it is about "a person who's grown up all his life thinking that the grass is greener on the other side, but when he finally [gets there], he realises that it's worse than where he came from and that it's truly exploitative." The line, "The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is just a statistic", relates to the disvaluation of the deaths of ordinary people who die every day, who are ignored by the media, compared to the frenzy that results in the press when someone dies in a more dramatic way.
"Disposable Teens" is a "signature Marilyn Manson song." Its bouncing guitar riff and teutonic staccato has its roots in former glam rocker and convicted pedophile Gary Glitter's song "Rock and Roll, Pt.2". Its lyrical themes tackle the disenfranchisement of contemporary youth, "particularly those that have been [brought up] to feel like accidents", with the revolutionary idealism of their parent's generation. The influence of The Beatles was critical in this song; the chorus echoes the disillusionment expressed in opening lines of their White Album song "Revolution 1". Here the sentiment was appropriated as a rallying cry for "disposable teens" against the shortcomings of "this so-called generation of revolutionaries", whom the song indicted: "You said you wanted evolution, the ape was a great big hit. You say want a revolution, man, and I say that you're full of shit." Manson singles out "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" as his favorite song on the record and that, to him, it related to every person's desire for self-actualization.
Borrowing a riff from English alternative rock band Radiohead, "President Dead" is a guitar-driven song that showcases John 5's technical skills. The song opens with a vocal sample of Don Gardiner's ABC News Radio broadcast of the death of John F. Kennedy, which is the track's subject matter. On another note, the song is 3:13 in length — a deliberate numerological reference to frame 313 of the Zapruder film, the frame of the fatal head shot, and the point where JFK became an American media martyr, "because the production value of his murder was so grand; the cinematography was so well done." "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" is an introspective song where Adam is at his most emotionally vulnerable, to the point of wanting to give up. "Cruci-Fiction in Space" further delves into the Kennedy assassination, and concludes that human beings have evolved from monkeys to men and, finally, into guns. "A Place in the Dirt" is another personal song characterized by Adam's rumination and self-analysis of his place in Holy Wood.
"The Nobodies" is a mournful, elegiac dirge that begins with a synth-drum and harpsichord introduction. The verse "today I'm dirty and I want to be pretty, tomorrow I know I'm just dirt" is sung with an Iggy Pop-style vocal delivery that builds to the adrenaline-fuelled chorus of "we are the nobodies, we wanna be somebodies, when we're dead they'll know just who we are. Some children died the other day, we fed machines and then we prayed, puked up and down in morbid faith, you should have seen the ratings that day." CMJ noted that the song was likely to be interpreted by some people as a tribute to the perpetrators of Columbine, but that its point was not to glorify violence; rather, it was to depict a society drenched in its children's blood. "The Death Song" is the turning point for Adam; he no longer cares. Manson described it as being sarcastic and nihilistic: "it's like 'We have no future and we don't give a fuck'." Kerrang! described it as among the album's "heaviest" songs.
In "Lamb of God", Manson uses the examples of the assassinations of Jesus Christ, JFK, and John Lennon to criticize his accusers. He illustrates their hunger for venerating dead people into martyrs and superstars, and for turning tragedy into televised spectacle. The bridge paraphrases the chorus of "Across the Universe". Manson notes that even though John Lennon sang that "nothing's going to change my world", "[Lennon's killer] Mark David Chapman came along and proved him very wrong. That was always something, growing up, that was very sad and tragic to me—a song that I always identified with." "Burning Flag" is a heavy metal song that recalls the sound of American industrial metal band Ministry. Lennon's "Working Class Hero" was covered in the period between the band's August 30, 2000, appearance at the Kerrang! Awards and the November 14, 2000, launch of the album. In describing Lennon's idealism and influence, Manson said that "some of Lennon's Communist sentiments in his music later in his life were very dangerous. I think he died because of it. I don't think his death was any sort of accident. Aside from that, I think he's one of my favorite songwriters of all time."
After announcing that it would be his only mode of contact with the outside world, Manson regularly posted updates about the then-nascent album on the band's website to generate interest and anticipation among fans. Promotion began as early as June 9, 1999, with an update stating that he was writing early compositions for a new album in tandem with an original screenplay. On December 16, 1999, he posted a four-minute video clip, accompanied by a written address, which elaborated on the upcoming album's themes, and featured excerpts of the band performing two new songs. The first cut was a rock song that later became the single "Disposable Teens", while the second cut was a rough demo cover of the ballad "Little Child" (otherwise known as "Mommy Dear"). He described the album as "the most violent yet beautiful creation we have accomplished. This is a soundtrack for a world that is being sold to kids and then being destroyed by them. But maybe that's exactly what it deserves." An acoustic version of the song "Sick City", from Charles Manson's 1970 album Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, later appeared on February 14, 2000. The song was not intended to be included in either the upcoming album or the Holy Wood feature film.
On April 12, 2000, Manson wrote that they were completing the final stages of recording, and posted a downloadable silent movie that documented the process. This was followed on August 9, 2000, with a posting of the cover of the Holy Wood novel and a sound clip of "The Love Song" the next day. On August 25, 2000, he released three tracks, "Burning Flag", "Cruci-Fiction in Space", and "The Love Song", for digital download on their website. He traveled to the UK to perform "Disposable Teens" on the October 12, 2000, episode of BBC One's Top of the Pops. On October 27, 2000, the band launched the worldwide Guns, God and Government Tour. Video footage and photographs from the inaugural show at the Minneapolis Orpheum Theatre and Milwaukee Eagles Ballroom were posted on the band's website on November 2, 2000, which showed them performing "Disposable Teens" and "The Fight Song".
From November 1 to November 13, 2000, the UK division of Nothing/Interscope Records held a contest to promote the album and the launch of the UK version of the band's official website. The contest invited fans to log on the site daily to pick up a series of coded clues which led to a message linked to the album. Fans who solved the riddle received an exclusive download and were entered into a draw to win a week-long trip for two to meet the frontman in Hollywood, California.
In mid 2001 Universal Music Group received criticism for airing commercials which promoted the album on MTV's Total Request Live. Manson voiced suspicion that former Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman had a part in its orchestration. At the time the Senator had just introduced a bill to the United States Congress called The Media Marketing Accountability Act, which sought to levy criminal penalties against entertainment industry distributors who market violent and sexually explicit media to minors. The proposed legislation stemmed from the publication of the Federal Trade Commission investigation he, along with senators Brownback and Hatch, had requested from then-US President Bill Clinton at the May 4, 1999, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on entertainment industry marketing practices to minors.
On February 29, 2000, Manson confirmed that the album was on track for a "Fall of 2000" release. By August 2, the singer announced a new projected release date of October 24 and posted an early draft of the track listing. Manson then began posting weekly updates on the website so fans could get access to previews of new songs and artwork legally and with the permission of the band. On August 25, 2000, the complete track listing for the new album was released.
On September 18, 2000, Manson clarified that the album's US release was moved to November 14, 2000, and confirmed that the album's first single would be "Disposable Teens". The postponement was the result of further fine-tuning work being done during the final mixing stage. The album was released on November 13, 2000, in the UK and on December 5, 2000, in Japan, through Nothing and Interscope Records.
On the evening of November 14, 2000, Manson, Ramirez, and John 5 took a short break from the tour to celebrate the album's launch by playing a brief invitation-only acoustic set at the Saci nightclub in New York City. Tickets for the event were given away through radio contests, via the band's website, and by being among the first 100 to buy the album at the Tower Records store in New York's Broadway Avenue. The set consisted of four songs that included a cover of Lennon's "Working Class Hero" and "Suicide Is Painless", the theme song for the TV series M*A*S*H. Manson noted that the latter song "[was] far more depressing than anything I could have ever written." The following day he appeared on Total Request Live for a segment titled "Mothers Against Marilyn Manson". The band performed the first single at MTV's New Year's Eve celebration, along with a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender", and again on January 8, 2001, at the 2001 American Music Awards.
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was anchored by three singles. The first two were each released in three versions. The first single, "Disposable Teens", debuted as a music video directed by Samuel Bayer on Total Request Live on October 25, 2000. In the following weeks the single was released as two standalone single EPs. The first version, titled "Disposable Teens Pt.1", was released on November 6, 2000, in the UK, and features Manson's cover of "Working Class Hero". It was released as a maxi single in the UK on August 21, 2002. The second version, titled "Disposable Teens Pt.2", followed on November 14, 2000, and features a cover of "Five to One" by The Doors. This version was released in the UK as a maxi single and as a 12" picture disc vinyl EP on October 31, 2000, and on November 6, 2000, respectively.
The second single, "The Fight Song", was also released in three versions. The first version, titled "The Fight Song Pt.1", was released on January 29, 2001, in the US and on February 19, 2001, in the UK. "The Fight Song Pt.1" was released as a 12" picture disc vinyl EP on February 19, 2001, in the UK. Both feature a remix by Joey Jordison of the heavy metal band Slipknot. The second version, titled "The Fight Song Pt.2", was released on February 2, 2001, in the US and on March 6, 2001, in the UK. The music video was directed by W.I.Z.. It generated minor controversy for its violent depiction of an American football game between jocks and goths, which some sources interpreted to be an exploitation of the Columbine tragedy. Manson dismissed these claims as media hype, adding that "Flak is my job."
As early as February 10, 2001, Manson indicated that the "The Nobodies" would be the album's third single. The music video, directed by Paul Fedor, premiered on MTV in June 2001. Originally Manson wanted to film the music video in Russia "because the atmosphere, the desolation, the coldness and the architecture would really suit the song." Another early plan was to incorporate the MTV stunt and prank TV series Jackass, due to the song's inclusion in the show's soundtrack. However, this idea was abandoned after the show drew the ire of Senator Joseph Lieberman. The third single was released in physical format on September 3, 2001, in the UK and, on October 6, 2001, in the US. A remixed version of the song later appeared in the 2001 Johnny Depp film From Hell.
Cover and packaging
The album artwork was designed by P. R. Brown and Marilyn Manson. Manson began conceptualizing it as he was writing the songs, and Brown and Manson worked in tandem to realize the imagery after they decided to do the work themselves. It contains many elements from alchemy and the tarot.
The album uses the symbol of the planet Mercury, commonly used in alchemy, as an identifying logo. Expanding on its relationship with the album's concept, he stated, "It represents both the androgyne and the prima materia, which has been associated with Adam, the first man."
Manson commissioned a redesigned set of fourteen Major Arcana tarot cards, based on the Rider-Waite deck. He explained that his interest in tarot was grounded in an attraction to the symbolism rather than the idea of divination. The cards depict each member of the band in a surrealistic tableaux. Each was reinterpreted to reflect the iconography of the album. For instance, The Emperor is shown with prosthetic legs and clutching a rifle while sitting in a wheelchair in front of an American flag; The Fool is depicted walking off a cliff, with grainy images of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and a JFK campaign poster in the background; and Justice weighs The Bible against the Brain. The album's inner sleeve contains nine of these cards: The Magician, The Devil, The Emperor, The Hermit, The Fool, Justice, The High Priestess, Death, and The Hierophant. The remaining extant cards include The Star, The World, The Tower, and The Hanged Man.
The cover art, which portrays Manson as a crucified Jesus Christ with a torn-off mandible, is intended as a criticism of censorship and America's obsession with media martyrs. It is a cropped version of the reinterpreted Hanged Man card. Beneath it is an obscured copy of the coroner's report of John F. Kennedy, showing the words "clinical record" and "autopsy". The Marilyn Manson typeface uses the same font as the Disney World logo of the 1960s. Manson explained the cover further: "I think it's more offensive to Christians for me to say, 'I believe in the story of Christ and I enjoy the images that you present, but for different reasons than you'. I've taken my own interpretation, that's more offensive than Antichrist Superstar, and just completely disvaluing it. I'm going to turn a bunch of kids onto Christianity in my own sick, twisted way."
The cover generated controversy upon release. Some copies were issued with a cardboard sleeve featuring an alternative cover, as some retailers refused to stock the album with the original artwork. A pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, threatened to go on hunger strike unless the record was pulled from the shelves. Manson described these actions as attempts at censorship and stated that, "the irony is that my point of the photo on the album was to show people that the crucifixion of Christ is, indeed, a violent image. My jaw is missing as a symbol of this very kind of censorship. This doesn't piss me off as much as it pleases me, because those offended by my album cover have successfully proven my point." Gigwise ranked the cover 16th on their list of 'The 50 Most Controversial Album Covers Of All Time!'.
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was released in three physical formats. The standard jewel case CD release contains a single Enhanced CD, a gatefold booklet, and a card stock outer slipcase. The limited UK edition CD features a bonus track acoustic version of "The Nobodies", while the limited Japanese edition CD contains the UK bonus track and a live rendition of the song "Mechanical Animals" as bonus material. Universal Music Japan released an Original Recording Remastered version of the album in Super High Material CD (SHM-CD) on December 3, 2008, and a limited edition 10th-anniversary commemorative reissue in 2010. The LP vinyl release was pressed on two black discs contained in a gatefold paperboard slipcase. The Compact Cassette release contained a single cassette tape, a gatefold booklet, and a card stock outer slipcase. Amazon.com has offered a digital version in MP3 format since November 14, 2000.
Professional ratings Aggregate scores Source Rating Metacritic 72/100 Review scores Source Rating allmusic  Billboard (85/100)  Drowned in Sound  Entertainment Weekly (B)  LA Weekly  Los Angeles Times  PopMatters (favorable) Q  Rolling Stone 
Holy Wood received mixed to positive reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72 based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of allmusic praised it as "the definitive Marilyn Manson album, since it's tuneful and abrasive." He specifically complimented the band for "figur[ing] out [how] to meld the hooks and subtle sonic shading of Mechanical Animals with the ugly, neo-industrial metallicisms of Antichrist [Superstar]" and said that "much of its charm lies in Manson trying so hard, perfecting details ... there's so much effort, Holy Wood winds up a stronger and more consistent album than any of his other work. If there's any problem, it's that Manson's shock rock seems a little quaint in 2000 ... [However,] it's to Warner's [frontman Marilyn Manson] credit as, yes, an artist that Holy Wood works anyway."
Barry Walters of Rolling Stone said, "The band truly rocks: Its malevolent groove fleshes out its leader's usual complaints with an exhilarating swagger that's the essence of rock and roll." LA Weekly was similarly impressed, and pointed out that "almost all [the songs] contain a double-take chord change or a textural overdose or a mind-blowing bridge, and they'll be terroristic in concert." Revolver magazine editor Christopher Scapelliti was most impressed by the record's earnestness, and stated that "For all Holy Wood's well-tempered melodies and drunken pandemonium, what comes across loudest on the album is not the music but the sense of injury expressed in Manson's lyrics. Like Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon's bare-boned solo debut, Holy Wood screams with a primal fury that's evident even in its quietest moments." According to Billboard magazine, the album proved that Manson is "one of the most skilled lyricists in rock today."
Other critics found shortcomings with the album. Drowned in Sound, which assigns a normalized rating out of 10, gave the album a score of 10. They noted, however, "There [are] a number of criticisms that could come Marilyn Manson's way: too much more of the same, too much philosophical posing, too much sloganeering. Regardless, all this needs to attain perfection is a few minutes shaved off of the overall running time ... [and] lyrically it actually says something intelligent for once and musically it has a lot more variation and scope than the Limp Bizkits of the world." PopMatters agreed and stated, "The central flaw of Holy Wood is that the power of its message, an important and provocative one, is watered down by its artistic pretensions. While Holy Wood is often affecting, it would be a better album if it was shorter and dealt with its subject matter directly, instead of through the veil of the 'concept album'." Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times was also disappointed that Holy Wood did not live up to "the promise of Mechanical Animals." In contrast to Erlewine, he viewed the musical cross-pollination of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals as confusion on the band's part on "where to turn [musically], as if uncertain which is the right move commercially in a rock world taken over by Limp Bizkit and Eminem." He concluded that "[t]his is music that sounds reasonable on the radio but crumbles under scrutiny."
Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club found himself wholly unconvinced, and remarked that "[this] sort of agitprop is thoroughly predictable, and the only thing that could prove shocking about Manson's antics would be if the singer actually evinced any power over his followers. Here, he seems entranced by his own power, which may be why his dark worldview sounds baseless even as he offers sharp hooks others would kill for."
Since early critical appraisal of Holy Wood was far less favorable than the band's previous effort, Mechanical Animals, many critics and retailers questioned if the band still carried appeal in the music scene of the early 2000s. Best Buy's sales projections in 2000 estimated its first week sales would be around 150,000 units nationally, significantly less than the 223,000 units sold by Mechanical Animals in its first week. In the US, the album debuted and peaked at № 13 on the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 117,000, initially making it a commercial disappointment.
The record only spent a total of 13 consecutive weeks on the charts before exiting completely on March 3, 2001, making it the shortest-charting full-length LP offering by the band until The High End of Low (2009). It was completely overshadowed by its sister albums, Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, which spent 52 and 33 weeks on the charts, respectively. The album's sales figures were equally dismal, and it took the record three years to attain a gold certification from the RIAA, in March 2003, for shipments of over 500,000 units. However, in four other countries, including Australia, Austria, Italy, and Sweden, the album peaked in the Top 10. In the UK, the album peaked at № 23. As of 2011, the album has sold over 9 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful in the band's catalogue.
Seventeen months after Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)'s release, Manson commented on the album's lackluster US sales. He attributed the lack of commercial appeal to the musical climate of the time, but argued that it stood up comparatively well to contemporary albums of the rock genre. He noted that the band's US sales figures are usually in the region of one or two million records, so he did not find the sales figures disappointing.
In 2001 Kerrang! named Holy Wood the year's "Best Album" at their annual Kerrang! Awards. Manson sardonically remarked that "[there is] nothing like a good school shooting to inspire a record" when he collected the award.
Kerrang! ranked Holy Wood 9th in their list of Albums of the Year 2000. British magazine NME ranked the album 34th in their critic's picks for the 50 Best Albums of 2000 in their "Decade In Music" series, calling it "A series of heroic rallying cries for the disenfranchised, while also baiting the American Far Right for all it's worth." The record ranked 30th in the Critics Top 50 and 9th in the Popular Poll of German magazine Musik Express/Sounds in their Albums of the Year 2000. The French edition of the British magazine Rock Sound ranked Holy Wood 15th in the Le choix de la rédaction ("Editor's choice") and 5th in Le choix des lecteurs ("Reader's choice") of their Choix des critiques ("Critic's choice") Albums of the Year 2000. British magazine Record Collector also listed the album among their Best of 2000 list.
On their November 10, 2010, issue, Kerrang! published a 10th-anniversary commemorative piece on the album titled "Screaming For Vengeance", in which they called the album "Manson's finest hour ... A decade on, there has still not been as eloquent and savage a musical attack on the media and mainstream culture as Manson achieved with Holy Wood ... [It is] still scathingly relevant today ... Compared to his contemporaries, Manson's ideas bristled with intelligence that few could match." The article went on to say, "... perhaps that's where Holy Wood achieved its greatest success. In deflecting the attention that was targeted at him back onto the media, they reacted exactly as he knew they would: by blustering and further exposing their own inadequacies ... The shame of it all, though, is that so little has changed. That the album is still so relevant today suggests it failed in its task of changing attitudes. That it exists at all, though, is a credit to a man who refused to sit and take it, but instead come out swinging."
Guns, God and Government Tour
To support the release of the album, the band staged a worldwide stadium tour, three days after the album's original release date and seventeen days ahead of the album's actual launch, titled the Guns, God and Government Tour. Beginning on October 27, 2000, and lasting until September 2, 2001, the tour included six legs, spanning Eurasia, Japan, and North America, with a total of 107 completed shows out of the 109 planned. Typical of the band, the concerts were extremely theatrical, with an average show lasting for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The sets were designed with communist, religious, and "Celebritarian" imagery in mind. Manson had several costume changes throughout the sets, ranging from a bishop's dalmatic and mitre (often confused for Papal regalia); a costume made from taxidermied animal anatomies (for example, an epaulette made from a horse's tail and a shirt made from skinned goat heads and ostrich spines); his signature black leather corset, g-string, and garter stocking ensemble; an elaborate Roman legionary-style Imperial galea; an Allgemeine SS-style peaked police cap; a black-and-white fur coat; and a giant rising conical skirt that lifted him 12 metres (39 ft) into the air.
The Ozzfest leg was particularly notable on this tour, since it marked the band's first performance in Denver, Colorado, (on June 22, 2001, at the Mile High Stadium) following the Columbine High School massacre in nearby Littleton. After initially pulling out due to scheduling conflicts, the band altered their plans in order to accommodate the Denver date. The group's decision met heavy resistance from conservative groups. Manson received numerous death threats and calls to skip the date. A group of church leaders and families related to Columbine formed an organization specifically to oppose the show, called 'Citizens for Peace and Respect', which drew the support of Colorado governor Bill Owens and representative Tom Tancredo. On their website they asserted that the band "promotes hate, violence, death, suicide, drug use, and the attitudes and actions of the Columbine killers." In response, Manson issued a statement saying,I am truly amazed that after all this time, religious groups still need to attack entertainment and use these tragedies as a pitiful excuse for their own self-serving publicity. In response to their protests, I will provide a show where I balance my songs with a wholesome Bible reading. This way, fans will not only hear my so-called, 'violent' point of view, but we can also examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like 'entertainment' to me.
Two concert films depicting the worldwide tour were recorded. The Guns, God and Government DVD, released by Eagle Rock Entertainment on October 29, 2002, featured live concert footage from performances in Los Angeles, Europe, Russia, and Japan. It also included a 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Death Parade, with guest appearances from Ozzy Osbourne and Eminem. Seven years later, it was followed by Guns, God and Government – Live in L.A. Released on Blu-ray format by Eagle Rock Entertainment division Eagle Records on November 17, 2009, it depicted the sixteen-song set of the Los Angeles performance in its entirety.
A: In the Shadow No. Title Music Length 1. "GodEatGod" Manson 2:34 2. "The Love Song" Ramirez, 5 3:16 3. "The Fight Song" 5 2:55 4. "Disposable Teens" 5, Ramirez 3:01 D: The Androgyne No. Title Music Length 5. "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" Ramirez, 5 4:18 6. ""President Dead"" Ramirez, 5, Gacy 3:13 7. "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" Ramirez, 5 4:09 8. "Cruci-Fiction in Space" Ramirez, 5, Gacy 4:56 9. "A Place in the Dirt" 5 3:37 A: Of Red Earth No. Title Music Length 10. "The Nobodies" 5, Manson 3:35 11. "The Death Song" 5, Manson 3:29 12. "Lamb of God" Ramirez 4:39 13. "Born Again" Ramirez, 5 3:20 14. "Burning Flag" Ramirez, 5 3:21 M: The Fallen No. Title Music Length 15. "Coma Black: a. Eden Eye b. The Apple of Discord" Manson, 5, Ramirez 5:58 16. "Valentine's Day" Ramirez, Manson 3:31 17. "The Fall of Adam" Ramirez, 5 2:34 18. "King Kill 33º" Ramirez 2:18 19. "Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing)" 5 3:24 Bonus tracks No. Title Music Length 20. "The Nobodies" (Acoustic Version; Japan/UK editions only) Manson. 5 3:35 21. "Mechanical Animals" (Live; Japan edition only) Manson, Ramirez, Zum 4:41
- The disc contains a data track which leads to a video no longer hosted by Interscope's website. This video was later included as a secret track on the companion DVD of Lest We Forget.
Charts and certifications
Charts (2000) Peak
Australia (ARIA) 8 Austria (Ö3) 6 Belgium (Flanders) (Ultratop 50) 34 Belgium (Wallonia) (Ultratop) 29 Canada (CANOE) 13 Finland (Mitä Hitti) 25 France (SNEP) 12 Germany (Media Control) 11 Ireland (IRMA) 21 Italy (FIMI) 7 Netherlands (MegaCharts) 53 New Zealand (RIANZ) 18 Norway (VG-Lista) 12 Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 7 Switzerland (Hitparade) 20 United Kingdom (OCC) 23 United States Billboard 200 13 Billboard Top Internet Albums 10
Region Provider Certification Shipment Actual sales Canada CRIA Gold 50,000+ — Switzerland IFPI Gold 20,000+ — United States RIAA Gold 500,000+ —
Single Chart (2000) Peak
"Disposable Teens" Australia (ARIA) 24 France (SNEP) 67 Italy (FIMI) 7 Netherlands (MegaCharts) 99 Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 52 Switzerland (Hitparade) 73 United Kingdom (OCC) 12 U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 22 Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 24 Single Chart (2001) Peak
"The Fight Song" Austria (Ö3) 59 Finland (Mitä Hitti) 19 United Kingdom (OCC) 24 Single Chart (2001) Peak
"The Nobodies" Austria (Ö3) 56 France (SNEP) 94 Italy (FIMI) 17 Spain (PROMUSICAE) 8 Switzerland (Hitparade) 96 United Kingdom (OCC) 34
Credits and personnel
- Marilyn Manson
- Marilyn Manson – arranger, vocals, producer, art direction, concept, syncussion, optigan, mellotron, distorted flute, synth bass, keyboards, piano, pianette, ambiance, electric harpsichord, rhythm guitar
- Twiggy Ramirez – bass, guitar (rhythm, lead, Leslie, warped), keyboards
- John 5 – guitar (lead, rhythm, acoustic, synth, electric, slide, phase)
- Madonna Wayne Gacy – synths, ambiance, keyboards, samples, bass synth, synth strings, mellotron, "children's choir and canned laughter of dead people unsure of why they are laughing"
- Ginger Fish – drums (live, drum machine), death & siren loops, keyboards
- Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb – synthesizers, programming, pre-production editing, organic drum programming, bass, keyboard, synth bass, "insect hi-hat", sleigh bells, (destructive) manipulation, electronics, piano
- Paulie Northfield – additional engineering
- D. Sardy (Dave Sardy) – producer, synths, (organic) drum programming, mixing, noise rhythm guitar, "pills"
- P.R. Brown – art direction, design, photography
- Greg Fidelman – engineer, all Pro-Tools
- Nick Raskulinecz – assistant engineer
- Joe Zook – assistant engineer
- Kevin Guarnieri – assistant engineer
- Danny Saber – additional loops
- Alex Suttle – backing vocals
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- ^ a b c d e "International charting positions for Marilyn Manson – The Nobodies (Song)". Irish-charts. http://irish-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Marilyn+Manson&titel=The+Nobodies&cat=s. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
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