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Thread: Retrospective: The Golden Age Of Grotesque

  1. #1
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    Default Retrospective: The Golden Age Of Grotesque

    No, I haven't tactically missed out EAT ME, DRINK ME, although I do look forward to discussing that at some point soon, maybe we'll even try something on Provider Module next year when it's a decade old.
    Anyway, I was listening to This Is The New Shit this afternoon, and the following thought occurred. No enormous retro-review of the record (yet), just a notion that I wanted to share, and hopefully encourage others to add their recollections, ideas, and impressions of the album after thirteen years or so.

    Is there a funnier Manson lyric than "Now it's 'you know who', I got the 'you know what'. I stick it 'you know where', you know why, you don't care..."?

    It might even sum up The Golden Age Of Grotesque more effectively than any other critique; meaningless, instantly recognisable, risqué sloganeering that's both direct and ambiguous at the same time. I think Manson's aim with the album was danceable, radio-friendly noise pollution with no real agenda other than to amplify things he'd already said, using hyperbolic, cartoon versions of himself to do so. It's essentially 'Meta' pop music before that term became widely used. A polarising album for some, although arguably the first time he and his band had been having real fun since Smells Like Children. Definitely dance music for the damned.
    "the Serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which
    the LORD god had made
    "

    m e m e n t o m o r i . p o s t m o r t e m


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  3. #2
    Neves's Avatar
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    Great post. I personally think that this album is highly underrated and essentially misunderstood, many people failed to notice the obvious fun and joking aspects that run through it. For instance: "This isn't music and we're not a band
    We're 5 middle fingers on a motherfucking hand".

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    I got into Manson's music during TGAOG era so naturally I have a soft spot for it. Visually, it's my favorite era, both when it comes to the stunning music videos, the perfect photoshoots and live performances filled with memorable details, outfits etc.
    The lyrics are among my favorites in Manson's catalogue - they're funny, witty, packed with metaphors and wordplays.
    Musically, I still love the album as much as I did when I first listened to it 13 years ago. The insanity of intro and outro, the catchiness of mOBSCENE, Ka-Boom Ka-Boom, Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag and many more, the dark beauty of Spade... they all make for one of my favorite albums in Manson's discography.
    The only weakness of the album are the last three songs before the outro: The Bright Young Things, Better of Two Evils and Vodevil but by no means do they spoil this great record.
    What I realized recently is how Manson got truly inspired by the idea of a cabaret on this record, not only visually - he discusses serious issues with a dose of humor.
    Last edited by TMC; 07-28-2016 at 09:24 AM.

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    Raspberry Syncope FeedYourHead's Avatar
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    I fucking love this album.

    This was the first album that he released after I had already become a fan and I tried to buy it and they wouldn't let me because I was 15 (probably looked 10) and it had a parental advisory sticker on it and no one would buy it for me. So that was a problem. (kazaa to the rescue).

    When it came out I was in 10th grade and I had first period off so I'd listen to Vodevil on my ipod first thing every morning to wake me up before doing math homework I didn't do the night before. I remember being really annoyed by the line "this isn't music and we're not a band, we're five middle fingers on a motherfucking hand" because that was how everyone in my entire life actually really felt about Manson - "that's not music, that's just noise, how can you listen to that?? MM is so weird and scary, you're weird and scary." -_-

    I was immediately smitten with mObscene and Vodevil because their choruses were so hard hitting and they smacked me around in the best way, then (s)AINT and Spade because of their objectively ingenious lyrics. mObscene is always going to be really special to me because at my second MM show, first time ever in the pit, that was the song they were performing when I made it to the rail and made eye contact with Manson which was a really really big deal because it was the first time I ever got that up close to anything I cared about that much. But that was in 2008.

    There were some songs on the album that I didn't initially like or "get" that I do now. I really grew into This Is The New Shit and The Golden Age of Grotesque, the former especially in light of THEOL and Born Villain.

    Slutgarden used to upset me because I was like "oh god what if guys I'm dating are thinking this about me, what if guys I'm dating are like this?!?" I like it now though. A lot. Also was this song the last time Manson made a reference to VCRs in his lyrics? And the line "They say they don't want fame but they get famous when we fuck" is incredible.

    I think that The Bright Young Things and Better of Two Evils are really underrated.

    "It's too hard to hold hands when your hand's a fist." I just want to put this lyric here because it's so perfect.

    I know I'm not supposed to, but I still really fucking love Ka-Boom Ka-Boom and not just because of Disney lol (though as you can imagine, this was a very confusing time for me with his whole "lets wear mouse ears in a kind of black face mickey mouse way." I was both very upset, and very not). I love puns. I love all the silly lyrics. I love all the serious lyrics disguised as silly lyrics. This song is fun and amazing.

    The whole arch dandy/cabaret/burlesque/old school german cinema and classic hollywood vibe is one of my favorite themes, aesthetic, and era that he has created. The whole album is loud but crisp - abundantly sexual yet still classy. It's somehow raw, but still very polished. It kind of has Dita written all over it. That amuses me, that this Dita-esque album is SO FUCKING GOOD and then the next one he made for ERW was SO FUCKING BAD.
    I love how it has Thaeter and Obsequey (The Death of Art) as intros and outros because it's like, all this chaos that is the actual music is contained in the middle of the album between the intro and outro, curtain up and curtain down, like an actual burlesque show. Or burlesque shitshow.


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    I was teaching a graduate class on post WWI German Expressionist poetry a few months ago (an exciting holiday, this is not my area by a seven year hundred range), and tracing the influence of the Romantic ideal of the artist, expressionism and the individual through expressionism, Dada, etc. As the final point to test discussion, I was using both Antichrist Superstar and Golden Age of the Grotesque as an example of how the late twentieth and early twenty-first century still use and incorporate these ideas in terms of art and social critique. GAOG is perfect for this because of the way it combines both the musical and visual elements, the sublime (both terror and horror) along with the interplay of pop culture and expressionist references.

    The students loved it, and it held up well in as a vivid, decadent, satirical, hallucinatory slick version of the far more stark originals from 1919-1930. Not an inversion of decadence, but the shallow decay being used as an instrument of blunt trauma. The distortion is really interesting. Also got them thinking about musicology and the role of music/art within culture and social change, versus personal expression ... which of course, comes back neatly to the influence of Romanticism and Expressionism.

    On a personal level, I enjoy the whole sprawling giant 'fuck you' spun as candy for everyone to revel in before choking to death.
    Quid ignorantia sit multi ignorant.

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    Ruination cataract777's Avatar
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    This record for me has stood the test of time. The first track I heard off this record was the song that got me into Manson to begin with, which is This Is the New Shit. The Golden Age of Grotesque, however, was not my first Manson record, it was Lest We Forget since The Golden Age of Grotesque was sold out at the time.

    When it came time to purchase this record, I was pretty pleased. The imagery was what I noticed at first. The imagery of this era continues to be my favorite imagery that Manson has ever done. The makeup, the photo shoots with Gottfried Helnwein, all so badass.

    The music, to me, was strong as well. Although, over time, the first half of the record isn't as enjoyable to me. I don't know if it's because I've listened to it so many times or what. mOBSCENE no longer packs a punch for me, and it's no longer interesting, except for the lyrics. Even Doll-daga-buzz-buzz-ziggety-zag sounds bland to me. Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth is fun to play every now and again though.

    The last half of the record is what I enjoy listening to most, which includes Spade. It took me until recently to grow an appreciation for this track. It was dull to me in the beginning. Now, it's definately one of my favorites off of this record. Other tracks I tend to listen to most are The Bright Young Things, The Better of Two Evils, and Vaudevil. Vaudevil has always been a favorite. Manson's vocals (though layered) sound so badass in the chorus. Some of the lyrics are a little lame. The obvious being "We're five middle fingers on a motherfucking hand."

    The lyrics throughout this record is Manson at his best. Dark yet manage to pack a fun and witty punch to send through a powerful message.

    I didn't attend the shows during the Grotesk Burlesk tour but it definately seemed like a great one. It was the beginning of Manson's vocal issues but the theatrics was where Manson really shone. The backdrop, the giant Mickey Manson head, the large white podium used during The Fight Song.

    This era was definately one of Manson's best.

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    The way he says, "I'M FUCKING GLAD WE'RE DIFFERENT" on Use your fist... is beautiful.
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    I realized two things while listening to TGAOG lately - first of all it has the second smallest amount of ballads in Manson's discography (after POAAF which has none). There are only two songs here that can be considered ballads - the title track and Spade. I think that gives the album a unique feeling of being very strong, cocky and self confident, perhaps the most self confident in Manson's discography.
    The second thing is how in the lyrics in some of the songs, Manson uses "we" instead of "I" and "you" as he used to in the past. We are the thing of shapes to come; We know it's all Braille beneath the skirt; All our monkeys have monkeys; We set fashion, not follow or We're 5 middle fingers on a motherfucking hand. This makes the album feel like the band's manifesto.
    EDIT:
    One more thing: I just realized how for 13 years I always underrated The Bright Young Things for completely no reason. The lyrics are phenomenal and the song as a whole is among my favorites from the album now.
    Last edited by TMC; 08-02-2016 at 09:54 AM.

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    After Holy Wood, this is my second favorite MM album and era. It doesn't need explanation.... The live shows, the music, the band, the photo shoots, the interviews; all speak for themselves. It was a great time to be a Manson fan.



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    I've been listening to TGAOG a lot lately. Which is odd since I don't listen to it much. I am re-falling in love with its era again.
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