Phoenix Rising from The Valley of Death

Holy Wood: In the Shadow of Death Valley

Cover art for the unreleased Holy Wood novel

Holy Wood: The Album

Official Holy Wood Album Cover
  1. God Eat God — The album opens with a series of clicks, the sound of cameras, fireworks, and a solemn minor chord progression on piano. In this song, Adam laments the death of God, personifying him as both Jesus and JFK, making pointed references to the type of violence that was done to them. It’s the first of many Kennedy references on the album, who along with several other people made famous by death, are frequently represented in this way. “The only smiling are you dolls that I’ve made, but you are plastic and so are your brains.”
  2. The Love Song — Drums crash in loudly, followed by bass, Manson’s voice, and quiet sinister guitar. The song goes hard into the 1st chorus, building up each time. We hear the first of Adam’s slogans, singing sarcastically “Do you love your Guns, God, the Government?!” to which his audience vehemently replies, “fuck yeah!” Throughout, Adam sings about his desire for his teenage girlfriend, Coma, analogizing that he is the bullet to her gun, as well as a Christ-figure and celebrity to her. Their parents disapprove, but Adam believes more in the Love songs in his head than anything, igniting a rebellion in their name despite their superficiality and meaninglessness.
  3. The Fight Song — Catchy 2000’s rock anthem. Adam is alienated and dissatisfied with daily human events. Craving the beauty and excitement he’s come to expect from media, he throws himself into the role of a rockstar and leader of the youth rebellion. He leads a hollow anthem rebelling against everything and nothing, rejecting the beliefs, values, and traditions of his childhood. “You’ll never grow up to be a big rockstar, celebrated victim of your fame.”
  4. Disposable Teens — Another anthem, this time with a bit of Adam’s true feelings. He repeatedly laments the dispensability of youth, and evokes the “end of history” response, which is to be a “Rebel from the waist down,” that is to say, a self-destructive pleasure seeker, intent on screaming his anger into the void. Ironically, this sells, as the more attention he attracts with this behavior, the larger his movement becomes. “The more that you fear us, the bigger we get.” At this point, Manson also reveals a bit of himself by calling out the hypocrisy of the revolution to begin with. “You say you want a revolution man, and I’ll say that you’re full of shit!”
  5. Target Audience — Things finally slow down, mournful electric guitar leads into a slow and steady rhythm. Now that he has attained the power he has, Adam begins to see the reality behind the veil of entertainment and celebrity. He sees how the deaths of famous media figures are capitalized on, and how their ideals can be used to manipulate an audience. Kennedy and Oswald, among several others, are used as examples, both killer and victim being killed before an audience and used to suit the narratives of those with the cameras. The chorus arrives loud and quite crunchy. Adam points his finger at those in charge, later on encouraging his fans to recognize the patriarchs or “fathers” who’ve trapped them in this system. “Valley of death we are free, your Father’s your prison you see.” As the song winds down, Manson chimes in, “You’re just a copy of an imitation,” referring to Adam.
  6. President Dead — High tempo swing beat with bendy, heavy guitar. “President Dead,” Holy Wood’s celebrity leader, is an actor like everyone else, portraying a patriarchal authority written and directed by other minds. He is portrayed as Godly, and he is militantly authoritarian. He is also very childish and stupid. State violence is glorified like any other violence on tv, and the president’s fans have their own slogan. “And we don’t want to live forever, and we know that suffering is so much better.” As a celebrity, President Dead is marketed in much the same way as Adam, JFK, or the image of Christ. He is a savior adored by his people, whose fame can be used to influence his audience, alive or dead. The president’s team also has another slogan, “Getting high on violence, baby.”
  7. In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death — Sad, downtempo guitars, crying infants, quiet synths blending into Manson’s melody. Reflecting on his fans, his girlfriend Coma, and himself, Adam recognizes that burning out to enter hell as quickly as possible is worthless. Maybe, if he was somehow famous or powerful enough, he could change things and wouldn’t feel so alone. In the media, religion, and everyday life, death is everywhere. Coma is his muse, and he imagines her burning out like a string on fire while he is reborn in the ashes, her faith in him transforming him into a God-like superstar persona.
  8. Crucifixion In Space — Muted, distorted guitar plays repetitively over a steady clicking beat as synths bend and the bass drops ominously. Adam chants “This is evolution, the Monkey, the Man, then the Gun.” He evokes several signs including the hammer and sickle, the only son, Jack Kennedy’s skull, and Atom bombs. Another punchy chorus and Adam continues to repeat his mantra. Knowing how the powers that be will use his movement for their own ends, he sacrifices himself to become an even more powerful and influential entertainer, allowing his message to spread but causing him to become nailed into the Holy Wood system. “We are dead and tomorrow’s canceled, because of things we did yesterday” his fans lament. Adam and his followers are now a weapon aimed at the top of Holy Wood itself. Flies are waiting.
  9. A Place In The Dirt — “Put me in the motorcade, put me in the death parade, dress me up and make me your dying God.” Adam sings a ballad, knowing he and his followers are condemned to die and that he has led them to this point. He also knows that Holy Wood will likely resurrect him afterwards and, like JFK and Christ, distort his message to suit their own ends. He accepts this, only hoping that he can become powerful enough for his message to make a difference and change the world.
  10. The Nobodies — Manson’s most direct reference to Columbine, in which he imagines two fans of Adam commit an act of mass violence and suicide, which is broadcast on TV. Feeling worthless and destined to be worthless, they take out their rage on everyone around them. The sensationalism of Holy Wood turns the event into a media spectacle, the scope of the tragedy and its celebrity connection proving well for ratings. “Two children died the other day, we fed machines and then way prayed, puked up and down in morbid faith, you should have seen the ratings that day.”
  11. The Death Song — Gentle rhythm leading into a catchy rock song. The rituals and beliefs of the past have become mere tools for marketing in Holy Wood. The mourners, the hopes and prayers, that follow violence are made hollow by spectacle. God is just another way of numbing one’s material condition, the same as psychiatric medication or the pursuit of beauty/pleasure, “We take a pill, get a face, buy a ticket, and we hope that heaven’s true.” Under such conditions, Adam’s fans perceive futile violence as their only outlet of rage against this system. “We write our prayers on a little bomb, kiss it on the face and send it to God.”
  12. Lamb Of God — Sad, soft, spacey rock song, with Manson singing in an agitated whining kind of voice. We hear his most introspective moments regarding the themes of the album. More references comparing Jesus, Jack and John Kennedy, John Lennon, and Mark David; as well as imagery that intertwines religion, entertainment, and politics. “If you die when there’s no one watching, then your ratings drop and you’re forgotten, but if they kill you on their TV you’re a martyr and a lamb of God.”
  13. Born Again — “I’m someone else, I’m someone new, I’m someone stupid just like you. ”A hollowed, mechanical version of Adam sings an uptempo rock anthem. He’s as famous and powerful as he’d imagined, but he has also been transformed by Holy Wood. His message is synthesized by the media into a commercialized form of rebellion for everyone. A born-again, superstar, imitation of Christ.
  14. Burning Flag — Unable to escape being destined to live meaninglessly until death, powerful as he is, Adam leads a last punk rock anthem aiming himself and his fans at an upcoming election. A final, hopeless rebuke intended to capture as much attention and cause as much chaos as possible. You can point your gun at me and hope it will go away, if your God was alive he would hate you anyway” He calls out the hypocrisy of the media being willing to let him burn for the violence he inspires, while they use their own synthesized version of culture to justify their own. “My right wing is flapping, the left one is gray, let’s hear it for the kids but nothing they say, they gyrate and G-rate on election day, we got our ABC’s and our F.U.C.K.”
  15. Coma Black — “A loved one laid his head in her lap, red roses fell to the floor, and the world stood still.” Coma, Adam’s lover and muse, is dead. Another senseless death that the media uses to create a new narrative. “I burned all the good things in the Eden Eye, we were too dumb to run, too dead to die.” Adam is both desensitized to and traumatized by her assassination. He states that she was the only one he could love, but that the word love itself has become meaningless. Being born to burn out and die, her death is nothing shocking, but the callousness of exploiting her life after death is overwhelmingly bleak. Much religious imagery is used in this song, heavily entwining innocent and beautiful Coma into the Christ allegory prevailing through the album.
  16. Valentine’s Day — “Flies are waiting,…” Like the Friday the 13th Valentine’s day massacre that resulted in the mass arrest and execution of the Knight’s Templar, Adam and his followers are blamed for the death of Coma and are likewise targeted. “Slit our wrists and send us to heaven, the first flower after the flood.” Coma’s death as a justification for violence contrasts with the violence Adam is accused of inspiring with his music.
  17. …The Fall Of Adam — “When one world ends, something else begins, but without a scream. Just a whisper because we just started over again.” A self-fulfilling prophecy is completed. From the beginning, Adam had anticipated his incapacity to change things. Hard distorted guitar thunders through Adam’s last rant, whipping his remaining followers into a frenzy with an old slogan. Their voices fade into a mechanical whirring noise; animatronics on rails, as blinded by their devotion to Adam as any other extremist is to what they believe. The song ends with the sound of flies.
  18. King Kill 33 — Possibly, the only song on the album told exclusively from the perspective of Marilyn Manson. Essentially saying, “look at what you’ve done,” in reference to the violence portrayed in the album as well as in real life at Columbine. He absolves all responsibility from himself, emphatically stating “I am not sorry, this is what you deserve.” As always, Manson portrays himself not as the corrupter, but the corrupter’s mirror image, suggesting that those who scapegoat others for the world’s miseries should look at themselves.
  19. Count To Six And Die (The Vacuum Of Infinite Space Encompassing) — Adam faces judgment. As the music fades, a series of revolver clicks firing empty rounds flows perfectly into the opening noises of the album. “It spins around, we all lay down, some do it fast, some do it better in smaller amounts.”

Phoenix Rising: The Film Documentary

Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood

Media Manipulation & Fascist Fetishism

Marilyn Mansons and Anton Lavey

Holy Wood: In the Shadow of The Valley Of Death

Eternal Recurrence

Back cover of Holy Wood album

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store