Antichrist Superstar

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Antichrist Superstar
Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar cover.jpg
Studio album by Marilyn Manson
Released October 8, 1996
Recorded February 1996–August 1996 at Nothing Studios, New Orleans
Genre Industrial metal[1]
Length 77:26
Marilyn Manson chronology
Smells Like Children
Antichrist Superstar
Remix & Repent
Singles from Antichrist Superstar
  1. "Antichrist Superstar"
    Released: 1996 (promotional)
  2. "The Beautiful People"
    Released: September 22, 1996
  3. "Tourniquet"
    Released: September 8, 1997
  4. "Man That You Fear"
    Released: 1997 (promotional)

Antichrist Superstar is the second full-length studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson. Released on October 8, 1996 in the US through Nothing and Interscope Records, the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 which launched the band into mainstream success.[2] This, allied with the band's uncompromisingly anti-Christian stance and transgressive performances, led to picketing and numerous protests from religious and civic groups. The album displayed a more musically cohesive and developed sound than any of their previous releases. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the album's release marked the end of the grunge era in popular music.

As a rock opera and a concept album, it was the first installment in a trilogy which included succeeding releases 1998's Mechanical Animals and 2000's Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). After the release of Holy Wood, Manson said that the overarching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Antichrist Superstar, therefore, is the finale despite being the first to be chronologically released.[3] It was recorded at Nothing Studios in New Orleans and produced by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.

The album has sold over 7 million copies worldwide,[4] with 1.9 million of those sold in the United States alone.[5] It spawned two commercial singles ("The Beautiful People" and "Tourniquet"), and an autobiography (The Long Hard Road Out of Hell). The band supported the album with the controversial Dead to the World Tour. In the years since its release, it has been heralded by numerous publications as a modern classic and essential listening.


The album's title is a takeoff on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1971 musical Jesus Christ Superstar.[6] Similarly, the record is a rock opera[6] which, in an issue of Kerrang! magazine edited by the band's frontman, is stated as a tribute to—and inspired by—the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

After the release of Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Marilyn Manson divulged that his concept album trilogy is an autobiographical story told in a reverse timeline (chronologically reverse from their actual release dates). That means Holy Wood opens the storyline followed by Mechanical Animals and concludes with Antichrist Superstar.[7] Furthermore, though Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals made sense as individual concept albums on their own, there was a hidden overarching story running through the three releases.


Antichrist Superstar has elaborate packaging, consisting of a black cardstock sleeve covering the plastic jewel case with graphics of Manson on both the front and back, the latter of which is flanked by the red Superstar Shock logo and the Roman numerals IX, VI, III and VII. The booklet contains pictures of the band, a visual worm-to-angel metamorphosis, medical diagrams, printed lyrics to each song, and liner notes including traditional thanks and credits as well as a curious entry found under the lyrics to the song "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", stating it was recorded live on February 14, 1997, despite the album being released well before that in October 1996.

Also, found on the front of the album cover is a circle surrounded by the words Heart, Mind, Complacent, and Malice. If one folds the booklet just right they can also find the hidden words Heart, Mind, Complacent, and Malice made up of folding the words Heaven/Comfort, Minister/Fiend, Complaisant/Magnificent and Master/Lice respectively. The booklet also makes reference to Revelation chapter twelve, verses one to five, in the Bible.

The album, despite containing a gap of silence a few minutes long, is cyclical, as both opening and closing seconds include the distorted phrase "When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you." When the album is placed on loop, the pacing between the sentences matches that of the additional distorted recitation found in the preceding hidden track. The names of the two latter cycles seem to be a reference to two films by avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger: Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and Lucifer Rising.

Singles and music videos[edit]

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"The Beautiful People" is the first single of Antichrist Superstar. The video was released on September 22, 1996 and directed by Canadian director and photographer Floria Sigismondi. According to Manson, the title "The Beautiful People" was inspired by a book that came out in the mid-1960s by Marilyn Bender. This book contains information on the life of the Kennedy family, politics, fashion and culture. Moreover, the single was awarded gold record certification by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), reached number twenty-six in the US Billboard and number eighteen in the UK. The music channel VH1 named this single twenty-eight of their 40 Greatest Metal Songs.

"Tourniquet" is the second single from the album. It was released on September 8, 1997 and was also directed by Floria Sigismondi. In the video Manson is a humanoid moving through a wheel. The band uses a variety of bizarre costumes for each scene.

"Cryptorchid" is the third video from the album. The video was directed by E. Elias Merhige and displays images from his 1991 experimental film Begotten. Some scenes were replaced by Manson to avoid the original publications of the tape.

"Antichrist Superstar" was released as the fourth video. The video was also directed by E. Elias Merhige and depicts Manson on a podium bearing a lightning bolt symbol. In one scene, Manson tears apart the Bible, dumping it on the public. Before its planned launch, the video was screened at the 1997 San Francisco Film Festival, however, Interscope Records was appalled by its content and prevented its release. In 2010, the unedited video of "Antichrist Superstar" was leaked on YouTube.

"Man That You Fear" was the last video from Antichrist Superstar. The music video was directed by W.I.Z. and adapted from the Shirley Jackson short story The Lottery. The video also contains aesthetic and symbolic references to the 1973 film The Wicker Man and the 1989 Alejandro Jodorowsky film Santa Sangre.


Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[8]
Entertainment Weekly B[9]
Spin 8/10[10]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[11]

The album received generally positive reviews by critics. Lorraine Ali of Rolling Stone commented "The rise of Marilyn Manson marks the end of the reign of punk realism in rock & roll [...] The layered effect of the music recalls that of Ministry, but Marilyn Manson's execution is not as dense. Instead, Antichrist Superstar writhes with a cool, sinister and taunting feel [...] before lurching out from the shadows with hammering percussion and static-loaded feedback [...] For all of the album's attractions, the band could have compressed Antichrist Superstar into a more powerful blast of evil."[12] Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly commented "With Antichrist Superstar, Manson offers a combination vintage concept record and cheesy exploitation flick [...] to match his antisocial outbursts, Manson offers grinding metal guitars and death-rattle bass lines, letting his own deformed screech serve as the poison cherry on top [...] At least Manson's high-concept depravity has its own sick charm."[13] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented, "Though the sonic details make Antichrist Superstar an intriguing listen, it's not as extreme as it could have been—in particular, the guitars are surprisingly anemic, sounding like buzzing vacuums instead of unwieldy chainsaws. Even with that considered, [It] is an unexpectedly cohesive album and will stand as Marilyn Manson's definitive statement.".[14]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. According to Soundscan, the record moved 132,000 units in its first week.[15] The album has sold over 7 million copies worldwide.[4]


According to Antichrist Superstar is the 14th best album of 1996,[16] the 180th greatest record released during the 1990s[17] and the 973rd greatest of all-time.[17] In 2001 Q named Antichrist Superstar as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.[18] In 2006, sister British magazines Classic Rock and Metal Hammer included Antichrist Superstar in The 200 Greatest Albums of the 90s.[19][20] Furthermore, in 2001, Classic Rock ranked the album 92nd in its 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever.[20][21] The French edition of the British magazine Rock Sound ranked Antichrist Superstar 11th in their Top 150 Albums of Our Lifetime (1992–2006)[22] and 13th in their 1996 Albums of the Year.[20][23] Kerrang! ranks Antichrist Superstar 3rd in their 1996 list of Albums of the Year,[24] 14th on their 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[25] and 88th in its 100 Greatest Rock Albums.[20][26] Dutch magazine Muziekkrant OOR ranked Antichrist Superstar 109th in their 1996 Albums of the Year list.[27] Rolling Stone listed Antichrist Superstar among its Essential Recordings Of The ‘90s in 1999[28] and ranked it 84th in their The 100 Greatest Albums of the 90s[29] in 2010.[20] The record is also listed in the book Albums: 50 Years of Great Recordings.[20][30] British magazine Record Collector also list the album among their 10 Classic Albums from 21 Genres for the 21st Century.[20][31] German magazine Visions considers the album 37th in its list of The Most Important Albums of the 90s.[20][32] The French FNAC ranks the record 606th in their The 1000 Best Albums of All Time.[20][33] Furthermore, the French music magazine Rock & Folk lists Antichrist Superstar among The Best Albums from 1963 to 1999.[20][34] In 2008, Consequence of Sound identified Antichrist Superstar as a modern classic in their "Dusting ‘Em Off" feature due to its counter-cultural and social impact during the late 90's.[35] The album is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[36]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank United States Greatest Records Of All Time[37] 1996 973
Q United Kingdom Top 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time[38] 2001 *
Classic Rock United Kingdom The 200 Greatest Albums of the 90s[39] 2006 *
Metal Hammer United Kingdom The 200 Greatest Albums of the 90s[39] 2006 *
Rock Sound France Albums of the Year[40] 1996 13th
Kerrang! United Kingdom 100 Greatest Rock Albums[41] 2006 88th
Muziekkrant OOR Netherland Albums of the Year[41] 1996 109th
Rolling Stone United States The 100 Greatest Albums of the 90s[41] 2000 84th
Record Collector United Kingdom 10 Classic Albums from 21 Genres for the 21st Century[41] 2000 *
Visions German The Most Important Albums of the 90s[20][32] 2000 37th
FNAC France The 1000 Best Albums of All Time[20][33] 2011 606th
Rock & Folk France The Best Albums from 1963 to 1999[41] 2000 *
Esli Jacinte United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (The top 150 Albums of the Generation)[42] 2006 *

Dead to the World Tour[edit]

Following the release of Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson staged a worldwide stadium tour, titled the Dead to the World Tour. Beginning on September 5, 1996 and lasting until September 16, 1997, the tour included eight legs spanning Europe, Japan, Oceania, Hawaii, North America and South America with a total of 175 shows.

A concert film was recorded to depict the tour, titled Dead to the World, and released on February 10, 1998 in VHS format by Interscope Records.[43] It features live concert footage of 11 songs culled from performances across the world.[43] "Apple of Sodom", "My Monkey", "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger" and a selection of songs from Antichrist Superstar are on the release.[43]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Manson, except "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" co-written with Ramirez[44]

Cycle I: The Heirophant
No. Title Music Length
1. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem"   Berkowitz, Gacy 4:17
2. "The Beautiful People"   Manson, Ramirez 3:38
3. "Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World"   Manson, Ramirez 4:16
4. "Tourniquet"   Berkowitz, Ramirez 4:29
Cycle II: Inauguration of the Worm
No. Title Music Length
5. "Little Horn"   Ramirez, Reznor 2:43
6. "Cryptorchid"   Gacy 2:44
7. "Deformography"   Ramirez, Reznor 4:31
8. "Wormboy"   Berkowitz, Ramirez 3:56
9. "Mister Superstar"   Ramirez 5:04
10. "Angel with the Scabbed Wings"   Manson, Ramirez, Gacy 3:52
11. "Kinderfeld"   Ramirez, Gacy 4:51
Cycle III: Disintegrator Rising
No. Title Music Length
12. "Antichrist Superstar"   Ramirez, Gacy 5:14
13. "1996"   Ramirez 4:01
14. "Minute of Decay"   Manson 4:44
15. "The Reflecting God"   Ramirez, Reznor 5:36
16. "Man That You Fear"   Ramirez, Manson, Gacy, Berkowitz 6:10
99. "Track 99" (hidden track) Gacy, Ramirez 1:39
  • While consisting of three cycles, the album was released as a single disc, similar to the four cycles of 2000's Holy Wood.
  • There are different names for the hidden track, "Empty Sounds of Hate". . The Marilyn Manson Collection on iTunes titles it "Ghost Track". Rhapsody titles the track as Track 99.


Charts and certifications[edit]


Chart (1996) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[45] 41
Austria (Ö3)[45] 37
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[45] 13
France (SNEP)[45][46] 116
Germany (Media Control)[47] 100
Hungary (Mahasz)[48] 21
New Zealand (RIANZ)[45] 5
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[45] 50
United Kingdom (OCC)[49] 73
United States (Billboard 200)[50][51] 3


Region Provider Certification Shipment Actual Sales
Argentina CAPIF Gold[52] 20,000+
Australia ARIA Gold[53] 35,000+
Canada CRIA 2× Platinum[54] 200,000+
New Zealand RIANZ Platinum[55] 15,000+
Mexico AMPROFON Gold[56] 100,000+
United Kingdom BPI Gold[57] 100,000+
United States RIAA Platinum[58] 1,000,000+ 1,900,000[5]


Credits and personnel[edit]

Marilyn Manson[63]


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External links[edit]