The latest effort from shock-rocker Marilyn Manson is a lot more of the same Marilyn that you've grown to love... or hate. Like the last two discs, Holy Wood combines much of the same aggressive guitar and drum ensembles with a synth-based pop sensibility that borrows from collaborator Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
As on Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, there is a fairly balanced mix of upbeat aural assault, and the creepy front man's usual barrage of whiny self-inflicted torture ballads. The most marked difference between this CD and previous efforts is the overall cohesiveness of the message, which seems to be all about guns, god and rock 'n' roll.
"The Love Song" is an obvious example of this overt endorsement (parody?) of gun-toting Bush supporters and the Christian right with the chant: "Do you love your guns? Yeah! God? Yeah! The government? F*** yeah!" "Cruci-fiction in Space" follows the theme with lyrics about guns and a resounding Christian (or anti-Christian?) message, oh yeah, and more references to the Bush camp.
Strangely, Manson has made a public endorsement of the Bush campaign, which seems to confuse his intent. Intentional or unintentional, the album is an intelligent attack on "family values" and the paradox that exists between traditional Christian morality, capital punishment and gun lust. Musically, Holy Wood is perhaps the best yet from Manson and Co. With all the ballady crap, it can seem long and drawn out at times, but overall, it's dead on.