Marilyn Manson - Portrait Of An American Family
Think about this; in a perfect world, considering Portrait of an American Family was their first true album, everyone's first dose of Marilyn Manson would (maybe should) have been a disturbing, twisted rendition of the "Trip down the Creepy Tunnel of Chocolate Terror" song from the original Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory. That introduction is something you don't forget, and the notion behind it is exemplary of the theme of the record in it's entirety. Like and unlike every Manson project to come after it, Portrait offers contraversy via social and religious opinions with a sometimes wonderful, mostly average, and occasionally horrid backing of industrial rock/metal.
Many find his debut to be uncomparible to the rest of his discography simply because, thematically speaking, it has nothing to do with the infamous "Triptych" of Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, And Holywood, while having little to nothing in common with any of those or post-Triptych records musically speaking. The band has shifted it's lineup so often that the fame and fortune Manson himself has accumulated over the years is mostly due to the persona he developed for himself and the contraversy he stirred up. But any dedicated fan can tell that the music steadily dropped off throughout the years as Manson took more and more control over the musical side of his band, leaving core members like Twiggy Ramirez (bass, guitars, songwriting) out in the cold. Portrait, to get away from the history lesson for a moment, doesn't have those flaws and, apart from a few so-so tracks, is a damn fine industrial rock/metal record. Regardless of whether or not you care for him and what he has to say, apart from all that you find some catchy riffs, solid if unspectacular drumming, and some rather creative usage of studio space.
Songs like "Cake and Sodomy", "Lunchbox", "Dope Hat" and "Get Your Gunn" stand out so well on their own, it's no surprise they've all been reprised in live format throughout the years countless times. Hidden gems include "Dogma" and the outlandishly bizarre "My Monkey". Instead of going into the theme and history behind the recording of the record, I'll just direct anyone unaware of this information to the album's wikipedia page. It makes for interesting reading, especially noting that without the contributions of one Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson miight have never had the catapult he needed into superstardom. Also worth noting is that, out of all original bandmembers, none of them have actually been with Manson from that point until now. Consistency has always been Marilyn Manson's biggest enemy, from album to album and band member to band member. Portrait of an American Family is, oddly enough coming early in their careers, one of their most consistent efforts.
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