Marilyn Manson


September 15, 1998


Nothing/Interscope Records


Glam Industrial


Marilyn Manson's third studio album, and the second in his conceptual trilogy of Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood (in the Shadow of the Valley of Death). This release is a homage to the glam rock of the 70s combined with an industrial-style look to the music of the future.

The band

*Zim Zum was sacked from the band during recording because he couldn't remember the songs from Antichrist Superstar.

Track list

  1. Great Big White World (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy, Zum)
  2. The Dope Show (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez)
  3. Mechanical Animals (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Zum)
  4. Rock is Dead (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy)
  5. Disassociative (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy, Zum)
  6. The Speed of Pain (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy, Zum)
  7. Posthuman (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy)
  8. I Want to Disappear (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez)
  9. I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me) (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Zum)
  10. New Model No.15 (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Manson)
  11. User Friendly (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy, Zum)
  12. Fundamentally Loathsome (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Gacy, Zum)
  13. The Last Day on Earth (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Manson, Gacy, Ramirez)
  14. Coma White (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Ramirez, Gacy, Zum)

History and message of the album

It is a little-known fact that Manson's Tryptic trilogy of albums is in reverse chronological order. Mechanical Animals therefore comes after Holy Wood's bleak indictment of modern society and tells the story of an alienated man struggling to come to terms with a world that refuses to feel.

In many ways, this is the way that Brian Warner (the man behind the Manson façade) felt after Antichrist Superstar. Having been heavily on drugs throughout the production of that album and coming down from them, he encountered a world where we 'numb ourselves with drugs, we numb ourselves with television. we numb ourselves with the Internet, with prescription drugs, with whatever we can find, because everyone's afraid to be an individual.' Mechanical Animals is Manson's vision of the future based on this trend.

The album alternates between sniping at various targets (the Christian right; the media; Hollywood, et al.) and ironic self-parody.

Manson chose the glam-rock style of the album because he saw the glam rockers of the 70's as hiding a dark, depressive inside within a flamboyant, over-the-top outer. In the same way, Manson pays homage to the way record companies want to be an icon while making very shrewd comments on society.

As with Antichrist and Holy Wood, Manson takes an alias name for this album, 'Omega'. (The alias names for the other two albums were 'Antichrist Superstar' and 'Mercury,' respectively.) Omega is an exaggerated glam-rock star who contrasts with the bland, unfeeling world he sees all around him.

The album was originally to be titled 'Great Big White World,' but it was feared that this would be misconstrued as a racial slur, so 'Mechanical Animals' was chosen instead. Both titles refer to the blandness of popular culture where everyone is afraid to feel and be themselves. Manson sees humans in modern society as little more than mechanical animals.


Like the other two albums in its conceptual trilogy, Animals comes in a jewel case covered by a cardboard slip. The image on the front of the slip depicts Manson as an androgynous being with flaming red hair and eyes, designed to represent vulnerability.

The liner to the album has two covers: One with the same image as the slip, another with Manson dressed as Omega. Opening from the former cover reveals lyrics with predominantly white backgrounds, reminiscent of a Radiohead album in design. Opening from the latter cover, one is greeted by a darker background with more lyrics and pictures of the band.

The CD itself is designed to look like a white pill, and has the word 'coma' written across it - a reference to the invented 'coma white' - the perfect drug which makes you numb, according to the album.

The jewel case itself has a cold blue tint giving a futuristic feel. On the whole, the packaging is consistent with the feel of the album, but it is not as clever or effective as that of Antichrist or Holy Wood.

Extended content for your PC

Putting the album in an IBM PC running Win32 gives a bizarre program with 2 images which can be swapped between, with a secret track, 'Untitled' (Lyrics: Manson; Music: Gacy), playing in the background.

The songs

  • Great Big White World
    The album opens with a song that is musically reminiscent of Antichrist Superstar, but which also introduces the melodic, glam-rock style of the rest of the album. Lyrically, it also serves as a good introduction to the LP, speaking about the coldness of western society which is almost all-pervading. The references to 'space' are apparently from the fact that Manson's house overlooks Hollywood from above, and it looks like space to him at night.
  • The Dope Show
    This track has a relentless bass background and a more industrial sound coupled with a strong hook. This is a snipe at the double standards of the media and government and the shallowness of modern society.
  • Mechanical Animals
    The title track is extremely catchy, with a subdued synth background. Manson refers to himself as a 'hand grenade that never stopped exploding' - referring to his past when he was heavily on drugs. The chorus conveys his despair that he cannot save the world from its own coldness, even though he - as the only one who still feels - is the only one that had any chance.
  • Rock is Dead
    Probably the best-known track on the album due to its inclusion on the soundtrack to The Matrix, this is an imitation of the rock of earlier times added to Manson's distinctive drum machine sound. Lyrically, it is a snipe at the religious right and middle America. 'Amphetamines for boys and crucifixes for ladies' is one of the album's most memorable quotations for its shrewd comment on the banality of religious symbols and drugs in everyday life.
  • Disassociative
    This is a rather subdued track, by comparison, with little guitar used outside of the chorus. It is a song about being pressed down by the machine-like nature of everyone around.
  • The Speed of Pain
    This song is dominated by an acoustic guitar, but has futuristic voices interjecting as it goes, and electric guitars kick in late in to build it to a climax. The song itself is about back-stabbers (possibly brought on by Marilyn's dispute with Trent Reznor). It has an expression of hope for reconciliation at the end, which has since been achieved if this song was directed at Reznor.
  • Posthuman
    This is a synth-dominated dance track for the future which seems to be about the mixing of religions found throughout society and how we are made 'posthuman' by not acknowledging our individuality.
  • I Want to Disappear
    Another dance-style track with a persistent riff and some whiny industrial sounds. This is about the feelings of the generation of youth brought up into this unfeeling world and their life philosophy. The chorus seems to parody upbeat music aiming for youth: 'Hey, and our Mommies are lost now / Hey, Daddy's someone else.'
  • I don't like the Drugs (but the Drugs Like Me)
    This cutting track with strong rock influences and a very catchy hook takes aim at self-righteous teetotallers and their unthinking attitude while also indulging in self-parody, referring to Warner's former drug problems.
  • New Model No. 15
    This is another fast-paced track introducing melody to the industrial sound of Antichrist. It is a snipe at corporations and political correctness. Manson sees the corporations as creating disposable people as well as disposable goods.
  • User Friendly
    In this pounding, weird sounding song, Manson compares the trend towards user-friendliness in products to the banality of casual sex and the damaged relationships that causes.
  • Fundamentally Loathsome
    This quiet, laid-back (musically) song explores feelings of alienation - Omega toys with the idea of becoming numb, but realises that he cannot, so he decides to commit suicide.
  • The Last Day on Earth
    Very synth-oriented and melodic, this song describes Manson's feelings about the future of the world. The 'you' in the song is probably the same 'you' as in The Speed of Pain, who appears to be the only other person Omega has met who can feel.
  • Coma White
    The final track on the album is fairly subdued (a Manson trend.) It's about a perfect drug used by the people in Omega's world, and Omega telling the people that it is not a solution.

My thoughts on the album

While not as strong an album as Antichrist or Holy Wood, due to the fact that it is less consistent in its intent and the track order appears to be less well thought-out and engineered, Mechanical Animals contains some of Manson's best songs.

It is simultaneously easy and difficult to see why this record was disliked by a lot of fans. The musical style is very different to that of Antichrist, and it might have seemed to the less astute fan that Manson had sold out. On the contrary, the glam style is an ironic comment on record companies wishes' for him. Despite this, it was Manson's biggest-selling album to date, and it earned him No. 1 in the USA and a top 10 place in the UK.

On balance, I would say that this is my least favourite Manson album, but I still enjoy it, and it is the one I would give to someone who wants to know more about the band.

Title track lyrics

We were neurophobic
and perfect
the day we lost our souls.
Maybe we weren't so human
if we cry we will rust.
And I was a hand grenade
that never stopped exploding
you were automatic and
as hollow as the 'O' in God.

I am never gonna be the one for you
I am never gonna save the world from you
but they'll never be good to you
or bad to you
they'll never be anything
anything at all

You were my mechanical bride
You were phenobarbidoll
a manniqueen of depression
with the face of a dead star.
And I was a hand grenade
that never stopped exploding
you were automatic and
as hollow as the 'O' in God.

I am never gonna be the one for you
I am never gonna save the world from you
but they'll never be good to you
or bad to you
they'll never be anything
anything at all

This isn't me I'm not mechanical
I'm just a boy
playing the suicide king

With thanks to:
Marilyn Manson
trust the doctor

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