Controversy can produce surprising things. Take, for example,
the mainstream success of Marilyn Manson, whose abrasive persona
and music don’t seem logically capable of generating hits,
Manson (with producer Trent Reznor) somehow managed to do just
that, creating memorable, if not totally accessible, songs
addressing topics like Satan and fascism.

Manson’s roots lie in the “shock rockers” who
came before him, most notably Alice Cooper (who, like Manson, was
merely in a band whose name he would later adopt as his own). At
times, with Lest We Forget, Manson allows his many
influences to get the best of him. “The Fight
Song’s” verse sounds bizarrely similar to “Song
2” by Blur while “Get Your Gunn” pilfers the main
riff of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” More
puzzling is the fact that, on this greatest hits collection, three
of the 17 tracks are covers. To his credit, “Personal
Jesus” and “Tainted Love” blend in well among
everything else, but his re-imaging of The Eurythmics’
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” as a plodding
goth-rock ballad — replete with an all-screaming coda —
makes one wonder if Manson knows how absurd the concept is.

Merely listening to the album on its own is half-fulfilling;
Manson became famous primarily because of his image. Is it feasibly
possible, then, to listen to “The Dope Show” without
picturing that androgynous, “nude” body-suit?

Something common among much of what Manson produces is a lack of
content. In the liner notes, there is a picture of a Manson
powdered white from the waist up, holding a sheep in one hand and a
shotgun in the other. He is screaming. This photo doesn’t
actually indicate anything; it is a metaphor only Manson himself
could understand. Similarly, song lyrics like “I’m not
a slave to a God who doesn’t exist” make statements but
neglect to explain their underlying meanings — the listeners
are never informed of, or persuaded to believe the things he says.
Listening to Marilyn Manson means sifting through his ramblings in
desperate search of a message that never comes.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

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