Marilyn Manson, the man and his eponymous band, brought darkness back into the spotlight in the early ‘90s. Achieving popularity without a scalp scraped by butterfly clips or an official Pog line, Manson became the new face of fear. Fear of violence, sex, vulgarity, drugs, and most crucially Satanism. He was hailed by fans of alternative music, and reviled by the mainstream, as the self-styled Antichrist Superstar. Just like mythical depictions of the Anti-Christ, Manson has a silver (forked) tongue and an intelligence that few can comprehend. He is a cause for parents to fear their teenager’s headphones, coiled around their babies like the snake in Eden.
As fellow musician Jim Coleman attested, “I don't think I really [knew] just how cool Satan really was when I was in Junior High School. Now, thanks to Marilyn Manson, it's no longer a secret.”
In Manson, no creative force has brought such a vivid and lyrical depiction of Hell since Dante’s Inferno, the first part of the fourteenth-century epic poem Divine Comedy. The band’s back catalogue gives as nuanced and sprawling a Hell as Dante, taking listeners through all nine circles. Whereas Dante’s guide was Roman Poet Virgil, ours is the icon formally known as Brian Warner.
9. Limbo - Coma White
Album: Mechanical Animals (1998)
Killer Lyrics: “A pill to make you numb / A pill to make you dumb / A pill to make you anybody else”
It is tempting to list Marilyn Manson’s latest track, WE ARE CHAOS, which has left fans in limbo waiting for the band’s new album (released 11 September 2020). However, none of Marilyn Manson’s tracks best encapsulates limbo like Coma White. The title alone conjures the bland, apathy of limbo. The song’s protagonist is suspended in a state of nothingness, using drugs to assimilate with this emptiness. The lyrics were influenced by Manson’s relationship with Rose McGowan and drug-induced numbness.
The smooth and sombre opening guitar riff is layered and repeated throughout the song. The snare drum and cymbals pack a punch without breaking the mournful tone until the harsher rock guitars of the chorus kick in. The piano and keyboards have an almost jangly old-timey tone. Their sound lingers in the background like evidence of a time before total annihilation, a time when the song's protagonist felt and thought for themselves.