I have commented on the strange space that tribute albums occupy in the past (see Ministry tribute reviews). Caught between being true to the artist and demonstrating creativity, bands and even entire tributes are met with disdain. One question that often comes up is whether a band is worthy of tribute. The question is particularly relevant here. Marilyn Manson has secured himself a place in history, that is certain. Thousands, if not millions of adolescents have earned themselves horror from parents, church and schools, while simultaneously earning disgust and condescension from the gothic/industrial scene. To be fair, Manson does have some good material, but whatever musical skill he has is totally eclipsed by the appearances and image he cultivates. To many fans, the music is secondary—it is the image that matters.
It is unsurprising then, that those I have discussed this tribute album, one and all, have scoffed and scorned it. “What has he done to deserve a tribute?” When I listed some of the bands that appear on this tribute, scorn turns to shock. Dwell has gathered a surprisingly diverse group of artists from the variety of genres that intersect Manson’s work. Those artists have created a tribute indeed, reinterpreting Manson’s music, spinning it into entirely new creations. Brokebox, a metallic industrial group, provides more electronically oriented versions of “Cake and Sodomy” and “The Reflecting God.” Luxt adds both the electro influence and female vocals to “Rock Is Dead.” Alex Xenophon also appears twice, with softened versions of “Mister Superstar” and “The Beautiful People,” both almost reminiscent of a sort of industrial funk. Ophelia Rising (with Abominable Id) create an excellent acoustic and goth cover of “the Speed of Pain.” Other bands, including Shockwerks and American Head Charge, stay truer to Manson, but do so with power and passion.
Overall, Anthems of Rust and Decay lives up to its title. These bands take Manson’s songs, rusted and decayed, and breathe new life into them. Manson fans, this is a chance to expand your horizons considerably. These bands have the potential to lead Manson fans into entirely new genres, via some of the exemplars of those genres. If a few Mansonites pick this album up and end up looking into bands like Luxt and Nocturne, then it has served it’s purpose, in addition to being an excellently produced and put together album that I, for one, will definitely be listening to in the future.