This is a genre of music I know little about and like even less. It is the first I have heard Marilyn Manson. I only purchased it because I happened across his autobiography (“The Long Hard Road Out of Hell”) and found that so fascinating I was driven to try his music. I am what most Manson listeners would refer to as Establishment, a middle aged conservative housewife. In fact, I’m one of those that Manson wishes to make hate him. He has failed.I chose this album because of the description of its creation in the autobiography, and I find it to be completely consistant in tone and message with his book. Manson is very clear and unwavering about his mission, and has woven it brilliantly into this record. It is every bit the hard, ugly, utterly desolate wasteland that is his self-described soul, and of course, such pathos is the best kind of entertainment.To those of us who love extremes, and can appreciate plunging to the dark depths as much as soaring the pristine heights, such intense music is very therapeutic. We all have a dark side, and Manson treads into it unapologetically. One gets the sense he is holding up a mirror to the devil in all of mankind; in Christian terms, displaying the Fall magnificently.Now, being a hearing-damaged old lady, I will say that the slower, more melodious tracks are the ones that speak to me. To the extent Manson tones down the screeching, the result is as sweet and heartfelt as any love ballad. But as always, it is the lyrics that bring the emotion into the experience, and his lyrics are astounding. “Man That You Fear” for example, is a summary in one song of all the tragedy that was his journey out of childhood and into the damnation he now feels. As with “Tourniquet”, a bitter rendition of innocence spoiling to ruins, and the inevitability of the process (flies will lay their eggs), it is this harsh imagery that is so refreshing, as well as his honesty. What else can the line, “Take your hatred out on me,” be but an open invitation to what society is obliging him by doing?Even if most of the songs exceed my personal listening tolerance for “shards of glass” delivery, their lyrics are incredible. Digesting this album was like going on a rollercoaster ride; intense, frightening, and exhiliarating. I felt as if I had been changed in some way, which is exactly what excellent art should do. This album probes into the very heart of spiritual angst, both on a personal level, and a social level. He’s made no bones about the fact he is on the warpath against institutionalized religion, and seems all too aware that without depraved ugliness such as his, beauty and goodness would have no meaning. This goes to the heart of the question, “why does God allow evil to exist?” The Christian answer might be so that God’s glory can be all the more appreciated. Manson’s role as the AntiChrist can be seen not only in terms of slamming the hypocrisy of religion, but also as giving them exactly what they want. In this album, he gives us a foreshadowing of the very thing they warned him about as a child; the horror of the Apocalypse. He has virtually become the expression of that thing he feared the most. This journey between extreme poles is another clue that he is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Manson has consciously chosen the role of manifesting man’s darker nature, that part which follows Satan, if you will, and this album is a fine presentation of his message. If this is an exposition of the evil AntiChrist, we must ask ourselves a hard question: Is Manson’s dark world really evil, or is the album actually an indictment of sanctimonious “good” people?But, as with the book, one doesn’t need to delve into all the inner meanings to enjoy this music. It has a deep, driving intensity that matches a person’s need for introspective down time; music in which one can indulge one’s more “vulnerable moments”, to borrow a term from the secret reversed intro to track 4. On a practical level, this means it is perfect for when you’re grieving a breakup, are enraged at being wronged, or simply wish to blast yourself with a good, hard, emotional listen. I highly recommend this album to those who like this kind of music, or to the curious who can be very open-minded.