Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)

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Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) cover
Studio album by Marilyn Manson
Released November 13, 2000
(United Kingdom) (23 years ago)
November 14, 2000
(Australia and United States)
December 5, 2000
Recorded 1999–2000
Death Valley, California
The Mansion Studio
(Laurel Canyon, California)
Genre alternative metal, industrial metal[1], hard rock [2], art rock, gothic rock [3]
Length 68:19
Label Nothing, Interscope
Producer Marilyn Manson, Dave Sardy
Discogs Discogs-logo.jpg View at Discogs
Analysis and Interpretations

The Third And Final Beast (Nachtkabarett)
Mercury & The Androgyne (Nachtkabarett)
Holywood Gun Crucifix (Nachtkabarett)

Marilyn Manson chronology
The Last Tour on Earth
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
The Golden Age of Grotesque

Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) is the fourth full-length studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released in November 2000 through Nothing and Interscope Records. The album marked a return to the industrial metal style of the band's earlier efforts, after the modernized glam rock sound of Mechanical Animals. As their first release following the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, Holy Wood served as Marilyn Manson's rebuttal to the accusations leveled against them in the wake of that incident. The band's frontman, Marilyn Manson, described the record as "a declaration of war".[4]

A rock opera concept album, it is the third and final instalment in a trilogy that includes Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. After its release, Manson divulged that the over-arching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Holy Wood, therefore, begins the story, followed by Mechanical Animals and concluding with Antichrist Superstar.[5] It was written in Marilyn Manson's former home in the Hollywood Hills and recorded in several "undisclosed" locations, including Death Valley and Laurel Canyon.

Upon its release, Holy Wood received mixed to positive reviews, with many critics noting that while it was ambitious, it was lacking in execution. Initially, the album was not as commercially successful as the group's two previous outings, taking three years to attain a gold certification from the RIAA. Nevertheless, with worldwide sales of over 9 million copies as of 2011, it has become one of the most successful of their career. It spawned three singles and an abandoned film project that was modified into the as-yet unreleased Holy Wood novel. Marilyn Manson supported the album with the controversial Guns, God and Government Tour.

On November 10, 2010, British rock magazine Kerrang! published a 10th-anniversary commemorative piece in which they called the album "Manson's finest hour ... A decade on, there has still not been as eloquent and savage a musical attack on the [news] media and mainstream culture ... [It is] still scathingly relevant [and] a credit to a man who refused to sit and take it, but instead come out swinging."[4]

Background and development[edit]

"Ninety-nine was a pivotal year — as was 1969, the year of my birth. The two years share many similarities. Woodstock '99 [where rape and mass looting were rife], became an Altamont [the Rolling Stones concert in 1969 where the Hell's Angels beat a fan to the death] of its own. Columbine became the Manson murders of our generation. Things happened that could've made me want to stop making music. Instead, I decided to come out and really punish everyone for daring to fuck with me. I've got a big fight ahead of me on this one. And I want every bit of it."

Marilyn Manson[6]

During the 1990s Marilyn Manson and his eponymous band established themselves as one of the most controversial rock acts in music history.[7] The band became a household name with the mainstream success of their albums Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Mechanical Animals (1998).[7] By the time of their Rock Is Dead Tour in 1999, the band's outspoken frontman had become a culture war iconoclast and a rallying icon for alienated youth.[7]

As their popularity rose, the transgressive and confrontational nature of their music and imagery angered social conservatives.[8] Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum lobbied to have their performances banned, citing rumors that the shows contained animal sacrifices, bestiality, and rape.[7] Their concerts were picketed by religious advocates and parent groups, who asserted that their music had a corrupting influence on youth culture by inciting "rape, murder, blasphemy and suicide".[8]

On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold took the lives of 12 students and one teacher, while injuring 21 others, before taking their own lives.[9] In the aftermath of the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history, the band became a "scapegoat".[9][10] Early news media reports alleged that the shooters were fans of the band, and had worn the group's concert t-shirts during the massacre.[11][12] Speculation in the national media and among the public led to Manson's music and imagery being blamed for inciting Harris and Klebold.[4][13] However, later reports pointed out that the two were not fans of the band, and considered them "a joke".[14][15] In spite of this, the group—alongside other bands and forms of popular entertainment such as movies and video games—received widespread criticism from religious, political, and entertainment industry figures.[6][16][17]

A day after the shootings, Michigan State Senator Dale Shugars attended the band's concert at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to conduct research for a proposed bill which would require parental warnings on concert tickets and promotional material for any performer that had released a record bearing the Parental Advisory sticker in the last five years.[18] He concluded that the band was "part of a drug-cultural type of thing, with a subculture of violence and killing and hatred" and added that "[they] can be part of the blame".[18] During their appearance on Meet the Press on April 25, 1999, conservative pundit William Bennett and longtime Manson archnemesis US Senator Joseph Lieberman[8] claimed the group bore responsibility for the massacre during their appearance on Meet the Press.[12] Three days later, the city of Fresno, California unanimously passed a resolution condemning "Marilyn Manson or any other negative entertainer who encourages anger and hate ... as an offensive threat to the children of this community."[19] On the same day, the band announced the postponement of the last five North American dates of their tour out of respect for the victims and their grieving families.[20]

The following day ten US Senators, spearheaded by Sam Brownback of Kansas, signed and sent a letter to Edgar Bronfman Jr.—president of Seagrams, which owned Interscope Records—requesting the voluntary cessation of his company's distribution to children of "music that glorifies violence."[21][22] The letter cited Marilyn Manson, among other bands, as producing songs which "eerily reflect" the actions of Harris and Klebold.[21][22] Later in the day, the band announced the outright cancellation of the remaining shows.[23] On May 1, 1999, Manson published a Rolling Stone magazine op-ed piece titled "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?" as an initial response to the accusations.[24][25] In it, he commented,

I chose not to jump into the [news] media frenzy and defend myself, though I was begged to be on every single TV show in existence. I didn't want to contribute to these fame-seeking journalists and opportunists looking to fill their churches or to get elected [during the US presidential election of 2000] because of their self-righteous finger-pointing. They want to blame entertainment? Isn't religion the first real entertainment? People dress up in costumes, sing songs and dedicate themselves to eternal fandom ... I'd like [the] media commentators to ask themselves, because their coverage of the event was some of the most gruesome entertainment any of us have seen.
Marilyn Manson
Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?[26]
TV screenshot of the hearing, used in YourBurningFlag.com. Sen. Hatch holds a copy of Antichrist Superstar as he criticizes "he or she or whatever the case might be [as] tremendously offensive."[27]

On May 4, 1999, a hearing on the marketing and distribution practices of violent content to minors by the television, music, film, and video game industries was conducted before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.[27] The committee heard testimony from cultural observers, professors and mental-health professionals that included William Bennett and the Archbishop of Denver, Reverend Charles J. Chaput.[27] Participants criticized the band, its label-mate Nine Inch Nails, and the 1999 Wachowski brothers film The Matrix for their alleged contribution to the environment that made tragedies like Columbine possible.[27] The committee requested that the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Department of Justice investigate the entertainment industry's marketing practices to minors.[27][28]

Following the conclusion of the European and Japanese festival leg of the tour on August 8, 1999, the band retreated from public view.[4][5] The album's early development was marked by Manson's three-month seclusion at his home in the Hollywood Hills.[5] The singer spent this time vacillating on "what I was going to do and how I was going to react".[4] He admitted that the maelstrom caused him to reconsider whether to continue pursuing his career: "[t]here was a bit of trepidation, [in] deciding, 'Is it worth it? Are people understanding what I'm trying to say? Am I even gonna be allowed to say it?' Because I definitely had every single door shut in my face ... there were not a lot of people who stood behind me."[5][6] He told Alternative Press that he felt his safety was threatened, to the point where he "could be shot Mark David Chapman-style".[5] Manson concluded that it was less prudent for a controversial artist to allow his detractors to use his work (and entertainment in general) as a scapegoat, and began work on the new album to level a more extensive counterattack.[4][29]

Recording and production[edit]

Manson began writing material for the album as early as 1995, prior to the release of Antichrist Superstar.[30] Initially the material consisted of loosely scattered ideas "floating around in pieces here and there".[31] Manson isolated himself in his attic, where the early material was worked into a usable shape.[32][33] At the conclusion of Manson's three-month hiatus the band embarked on a year of writing and development of the material.[29][4][34] Band members maintained a low profile; Manson stated that their official web site would "be my only contact with humanity."[35]

"I'm at that point in my career where I wanted to make this film and I'm making this new record, where I really examine suffering and where celebrities come from. How it all kind of traces back in religion, and celebrities and Hollywood all kind of relate to each other. And that's very American."

Marilyn Manson[36]

The album is the group's most collaborative effort to date, with everyone contributing to the songwriting process, resulting in a more unified sound.[34][37] Most of the effort was shared by Twiggy Ramirez, John 5, and Marilyn Manson; keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy provided input on the songs ""President Dead"" and "Cruci-Fiction in Space", while Ginger Fish provided all of the drum work.[4][38] Manson said that his songwriting sessions with John 5 were very focused;[38] most of the songs were complete before being brought to the band for consideration, where they were enthusiastically received.[38] In contrast, his sessions with Ramirez were far less rigorous, as the two experimented with absinthe.[38] During the process the band wrote a hundred pieces, of which 25 or 30 were developed into songs.[38] Of these, 19 tracks were selected for the album.[39]

In studio photograph of Marilyn Manson and Dave Sardy during the recording sessions.

Recording took place in several "undisclosed" locations, including Death Valley and Rick Rubin's The Mansion Studio in Laurel Canyon.[34][35][37][40] Locations were chosen for the atmosphere they were intended to impart to the music.[34] Mix engineer Dave Sardy co-produced the album with Manson. Bon Harris, of seminal Electronic body music group Nitzer Ebb, supplied programming and pre-production editing.[35] Manson announced on December 16, 1999, that the album was progressing under the working title "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" and would be represented by the alchemical symbol for Mercury.[35][41][42]

The band's numerous excursions to Death Valley were undertaken to "imprint the feeling of the desert into [the band's] minds", in order to avoid composing songs that sounded "forged" and artificial.[43] Experimental recordings and "acoustic" songs were recorded using live instrumentation. Manson later explained that the acoustic songs were only "acoustic" in the sense of not being produced electrically; the album's sonic landscape is fundamentally "electronic". Harris' programming skills proved instrumental, as the band recorded found and natural sounds, which he manipulated into new sonic elements.[34]

The band rented recording time at The Mansion Studio, as its cavernous rooms are suitable for recording drums.[34] The band found the space inspiring, and spent a lot of time there;[44][45] they found they could accomplish more there than in the limited space of Manson's home studio.[34][35][37][40] Ramirez later had blurry recollections of the sessions;[46] he found there were "a lot of different emotions racing around [us]". The house, which once belong to escape artist Harry Houdini, is rumored to be haunted.[46] Gacy shared this opinion, but said that he spent the majority of his time working on a computer and synthesizer, "mess[ing] around with prime number loops where they only intersect every three days and I'd check up on what kind of music they'd be making. You never know what's going to happen."[44] In contrast, Fish worked constantly; the bulk of his contributions to the recording process took place at The Mansion.[45]

On February 23, 2000, Manson delivered a 20-minute lecture, via satellite, at a current events convention titled "DisinfoCon 2000", aimed at exposing and dispelling disinformation.[47] Six days later the album was officially titled Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death).[30] By April 12, 2000, the band had reached the final stages of recording, and Manson posted footage of the recording studio.[48] In pre-release interviews he noted that the record would be "a very sharp pencil" that would appeal to Marilyn Manson fans.[49]

Book and film[edit]

See also Holy Wood (novel) for more details

Manson's ambitions for the project initially included a film of the same name which would explore the album's backstory.[4][36] In July 1999 he had reportedly entered negotiations with New Line Cinema to produce and distribute the film and its soundtrack.[30] At the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards in Dublin, Ireland, where the band was to perform on November 11,[50] he revealed film's title and his projected production plans.[36] He also met with Chilean avant-garde film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky at the event to discuss the possibility of working on the film, although no final decision was made.[50][51] By February 29, 2000, the deal had fallen through due to Manson's reservations that New Line Cinema was taking the film in a direction that would not have "retained his artistic vision."[30]

Abandoning his attempt to bring Holy Wood to the big screen, Manson instead announced plans to put out two books to accompany the album.[30] The first was a "graphic and phantasmagoric" novelized adaptation, intended to be released shortly after the record by ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins.[32] The style of the novel was inspired by the authors William S. Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, and Philip K. Dick.[34] It was to be followed by a coffee table book of images created for the project.[30]

In an interview with Manson in December 2000 novelist Chuck Palahniuk briefly mentioned the Holy Wood novel, and complimented its style. The book was due for release in the spring of 2001.[52] Neither book has yet been released, allegedly due to a publishing dispute.[53]


for a complete overview of the Trilogy see Triptych.
"'Holy Wood'—which isn't even that great of a hyperbole of America—is a place where an obituary is just another headline. Where if you die and enough people are watching, then you're famous."

Marilyn Manson on the album's concept.[5]

The album's plot is a "parable"[32] that takes place in a thinly-veiled satire of modern America called "Holy Wood", which Manson has described as "very much like Disney World ... I thought of how interesting it would be if we created an entire city that was an amusement park, and the thing we were being amused by was violence and sex and everything that people really want to see."[5][54] Its literary foil is "Death Valley", which is used as "a metaphor for the outcast and the imperfect of the world."[55]

The central character is its ill-fated protagonist "Adam Kadmon",[4][30][56] a figure borrowed from the Kabbalah, in which he is described as the "Primal Man". In the similar Sufic and Alevi philosophies, he is described as the "Perfect or Complete Man"—an archetype for humanity.[30] He undertakes a journey, similar to the protagonist in German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Biblical parables, out of Death Valley and into Holy Wood.[55] Idealistic naïveté entreats him to attempt a subversive revolution through music.[55]


While disenchanted when his revolution is consumed by Holy Wood's ideology of "Guns, God and Government", he is co-opted into their culture of death and fame, where celebrity-worship, violence, and scapegoatism are held as the moral values of a religion rooted in martyrdom.[4][5][24][32][56] In this religion dead celebrities are venerated into saints and President John F. "Jack" Kennedy is idolized as the transfigured Lamb of God and modern-day Christ.[32][55][37][57][58][56][6]

This religion, called "Celebritarianism",[56] is a deliberate parallel of Christianity. The intention is to critique the dead-celebrity phenomenon in American culture and the role that the Crucifixion of Jesus plays as its blueprint.[5][6][24][32][34][57][59] This concept was extended to the worldwide Guns, God and Government Tour that supported the album; the tour's logo was a rifle and handguns arranged to resemble the Christian cross.[60]

Manson told Rolling Stone that the storyline is semi-autobiographical. While it can be viewed on several levels, Manson states the simplest interpretation is to see it as a story about an angry youth whose revolution becomes commercialized, which leads him to "destroy the thing he has created, which is himself."[37][40]

Much like in Mechanical Animals, another lesser character is found in "Coma Black". Similar to the character of "Coma White" from the previous album, Coma Black is an obscure figure which, simultaneously, may or may not be an unattainable ideal, an androgynous facet of Adam or an actual person.[61]


"[Holy Wood is] not necessarily [all] about the Columbine incident, but more the reason why it happened ... [It's about] the way America raises its kids to feel like they're unwanted and made to feel like they're dead already. They really don't have anything to live for and it's also concerned with the repercussions of that incident."

Marilyn Manson on the album's thematic preoccupation.[4]

Violence is the central subject of the record.[62] The material explores this theme by taking a critical look at America's cultural obsession with firearms, death, and fame, and its ramifications with respect to the Columbine tragedy.[4] Manson sees the root causes of Columbine as gun culture, conservative American Christianity, and traditional family values. The album illustrates the harmful roles they play in the glorification and acceptance of wholesale violence in "mainstream" culture.[29][56][63][55] In the album these factors are referred to by the slogan "Guns, God and Government."[55][4][64] Seeing similarities between the tumultuous and culturally defining Cold War period of 1960s America and the 1990s, Manson draws numerous allegories to that decade and other events and figures in pop culture history.[33][32][6][65][55][54][56][52][62][43] Music journalist Charlotte Robinson pointed out that it is difficult to assess the "narrative's effectiveness" without the book and film, and stated that "the album doesn't tell much of a story, instead presenting variations on the same themes."[56]

Manson was drawn to The Beatles's White Album due to its purported role in the Charles Manson 'Family' murders and parallels he saw between that incident and Columbine.[33][65][6] Finding kinship with the record he noted, "[it] had a lot of very subversive messages on it. Ones they intended and ones that may've [sic] been misinterpreted by [convicted mass murder conspirator] Charles Manson" and that, to his erudition, it was the first piece of music to be blamed and associated with inspiring violence: "When you've got 'Helter Skelter' [taken from a Beatles song of the same name] written in blood on someone's wall, it's a little more damning than anything I've been blamed for."[6][65][33] He stated that he "can appreciate it as a powerful record" which was "very inspirational" to his album's concept. Holy Wood, he said, "is a tribute to what that record did in history."[6][65][33][55]

Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris appeared on the cover of Time magazine twice. In exploring the roots of violence and entertainment, Manson reproached the media for "turn[ing] criminals into folk heroes. They just created two new ones ... Don't be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols."[24]

Several music reviewers also noted similarities between the anti-hero character of Adam Kadmon and Charles Manson.[6][43][55] Marilyn Manson echoed this assessment, and described Holy Wood as "a declaration of war. In a way, I am declaring war on the United States. Not on everybody, but I am attacking the shallowness of the entertainment industry, their self-congratulatory attitude, their beliefs that they can never do wrong, that they're always right, that they're the center of the universe. It is a clear attack on the entertainment industry."[4] He further articulated that "[i]n one way it's defending Hollywood, and in another way it's attacking it for not being brave enough."[6][43]

A substantial amount of the record analyzes the cultural role of Jesus Christ and the iconography of his crucifixion as the origin of celebrity.[6][32][34][59] The album appraises "our relationship with Christ, and how we outgrew that."[6] He states that where in the past he critiqued religion, with this album accepts the story, and looks for things he could relate to.[32][34] He discovered Christ was a revolutionary figure—a person who was killed for having dangerous opinions, and was later exploited and merchandised by religion.[32][34]= Manson notes the irony of "religious people who indict entertainment as being violent", because the crucifixion is a consummate icon of sex and violence which made Jesus "the first rock star". He feels that the exploitation of Christ as "the first celebrity" made religion the root of all entertainment.[32][34][59]

Christ's death is compared to Abraham Zapruder's film of the JFK Assassination during the "Winter of our Discontent,"[33] which Manson observed as, "the only thing that's happened in modern times to equal the crucifixion."[5] He sarcastically described the historic home movie in an op-ed piece for Rolling Stone as "[a] good clip of mankind's generosity to share his violence with the world in such a cinematic way".[66] Manson stresses the film's cultural importance and notes the irony of showing such violence on the news while complaining about violence in the entertainment industry.[32] He watched the clip numerous times as a child, and finds it the most violent thing he had ever seen.[32] Juxtaposing Christ and Kennedy, he posited,

Christ was the blue-print for celebrity. He was the first celebrity, or rock star if want to look at it that way, and [dying on the cross] he became this image of sexuality and suffering. He’s literally marketed—A crucifix is no different than a concert T-shirt in some ways. I think for America, in my lifetime, John F. Kennedy kind of took the place of that [as a modern-day Christ] in some ways. [After being murdered on TV], he became lifted up as this icon and this Christ figure [by America].
—Marilyn Manson
Revelations of an Alien-Messiah[67]

Manson also cites John Lennon as an assassination icon, and uses the album to criticize the news media's veneration of people into media martyrdom, and the tendency to turn death into spectacle to cater to the American public's appetite for violence, tragedy, and celebrity. He uses this to rebut claims that Marilyn Manson's music was responsible for Columbine.[4][6][56] He wonders how the media would have covered the crucifixion,[6] and linked these observations to Columbine during an interview on the O'Reilly Factor. Bill O'Reilly argued that "disturbed kids" who lack direction from responsible parents could misinterpret the message of his music to be, in fact, an endorsement of the mentality that "when I'm dead [then] everybody's going to know me." Manson responded:

Well I think that's a very valid point and I think that it's a reflection of, not necessarily this programme but of television in general, that if you die and enough people are watching you become a martyr, you become a hero, you become well known. So when you have these things like Columbine, and you have these kids who are angry and they have something to say and no one's listening, the media sends a message that says if you do something loud enough and it gets our attention then you will be famous for it.

Those kids ended up on the cover of Time magazine [twice[N 1]], the media [and the American audience] gave them exactly what they wanted. That's why I never did any interviews around that time when I was being blamed for it because I didn't want to contribute to something that I found to be reprehensible.

—Marilyn Manson
The O'Reilly Factor[70][71]

In spite of the many references to, and thematic fascination with, the three iconic men, Manson was reluctant to draw any comparison between them and himself, which he said would have amounted to pretentiousness.[62] Instead he volunteered, "[w]hat I did find was parallels in their stories and my story, and I tried to maybe learn from their mistakes and what they tried to do ... You realise you can't change the world and you can only change yourself, and I think that's what [they] found out."[62] He further added, "[f]or me it was about learning from that and trying to break the evolution of man [since] it's man's nature to be violent."[62]


"Is adult entertainment killing our children? Or is killing our children entertaining adults?"

—Introductory statement on the band's website during the Holy Wood era.[41]

During pre-release interviews Manson stated that Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was intended to be the "industrial White Album ... in the sense that it's very experimental. I play a lot of keyboards, we switched things around, wrote in the desert ... it's experimental and when I think of experimental I think of The White Album."[6] The 1969 Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed became another source of musical and textural inspiration and Manson made a point of noting in interviews that it was written in the same house where he wrote Holy Wood.[33]

Sonically, Manson said the record was "arrogant in an art rock sense", yet it turned out to be the "heaviest" record the band has done. "It needs to be to complete the trilogy," he said.[6][34][37] The majority of the songs contain three or four parts, similar to art rock, due to the way that the story is told.[34] The band took great care to avoid being "self-indulgent".[34] Manson contended that "it will please and it will entertain. Art rock is only self indulgent if it bores you. If you make some sort of three-CD compilation instilled with a lot of nonsense that, to me, is self-indulgent."[34] According to CMJ New Music Monthly, the songs are "angry and complex".[32] Rolling Stone noted that "on such songs as 'Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)', 'Disposable Teens' and 'Cruci-Fiction in Space', [the band] dismantles the slick, glam-tinged sound of [Mechanical] Animals in favor of the more brutal industrial-goth grind of his first album."[40]

Similar to Antichrist Superstar, Holy Wood utilizes a compositional device called the song cycle structure, which divides the record into four movements—A: In the Shadow, D: The Androgyne, A: Of Red Earth and M: The Fallen—to form the framework of Kadmon's story.[65] In keeping with the lyrical style of their two previous records the storyline unfolds in a multi-tiered progression of drawn out extended metaphors and allusions playing in Manson's psyche.[32] For instance, the album's title was not just a reference to the Hollywood sign but also to "the tree of knowledge that Adam took the first fruit from when he fell out of paradise, the wood that Christ was crucified on, the wood that [Lee Harvey] Oswald's rifle is made from and the wood that so many coffins are made of."[32]

"They'd remember this as Valentine's Day"; February 14, 1964 issue of Time magazine, featuring Marina Oswald on the cover, used in the band's sister site ThisAsValentinesDay.com during the Holy Wood era.

"GodEatGod" follows Adam as he contemplates in the desert.[55] "The Love Song" was written as an anthem for Holy Wood's religion of Celebritarianism.[55] The lyrical concept applies dark humor on the idea of "Love Song" (which Manson pointed out was one of the most common titles in music) to satirize America's concept of traditional family values by drawing parallels to the country's love affair with guns and violence: "I was suggesting with the lyrics that the father is the hand, the mother is the gun, and the children are the bullets. Where you shoot them is your responsibility as parents."[63] The chorus is a rhetorical take on an American bumper sticker, which asks: "Do you love your God, gun, government?"[55]

UK music magazine Kerrang! described "The Fight Song" as a "playground punk anthem".[49] Manson noted that the song's theme is Adam's desire to be a part of Holy Wood; the track is inherently autobiographical.[55] Speaking broadly, it is about "a person who's grown up all his life thinking that the grass is greener on the other side, but when he finally [gets there], he realises that it's worse than where he came from and that it's truly exploitative."[55] The line, "The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is just a statistic", relates to the disvaluation of the deaths of ordinary people who die every day, who are ignored by the media, compared to the frenzy that results in the press when someone dies in a more dramatic way.[54]

"Disposable Teens" is a "signature Marilyn Manson song".[55] Its bouncing guitar riff and teutonic staccato has its roots in former glam rocker and convicted pedophile Gary Glitter's song "Rock and Roll, Pt.2".[72] Its lyrical themes tackle the disenfranchisement of contemporary youth, "particularly those that have been [brought up] to feel like accidents", with the revolutionary idealism of their parent's generation.[55][54] The influence of The Beatles was critical in this song;[33][41][54] the chorus echoes the disillusionment expressed in opening lines of their White Album song "Revolution 1".[41][54] Here the sentiment was appropriated as a rallying cry for "disposable teens" against the shortcomings of "this so-called generation of revolutionaries", whom the song indicted: "You said you wanted evolution, the ape was a great big hit. You say want a revolution, man, and I say that you're full of shit."[41][54] Manson singled out "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" as his favorite track from the record and that, to him, it related to every person's desire for self-actualization.[73][55]

Borrowing a riff from English alternative rock band Radiohead, ""President Dead"" is a guitar-driven song that showcases John 5's technical skills.[49] The song opens with a vocal sample of Don Gardiner's "ABC News Radio" broadcast of the death of John F. Kennedy, which is the track's subject matter.[54] On the final mastered sequence, the song is 3:13 in length—a semi-deliberate numerological reference to frame 313 of the Zapruder film, the point where Kennedy's skull exploded from the second round Lee Harvey Oswald fired from his 6.5 x 52 mm Italian Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle, and the point where JFK became an American media martyr, "because the production value of his murder was so grand; the cinematography was so well done."[54] "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" is an introspective song where Adam is at his most emotionally vulnerable, to the point of wanting to give up.[54] "Cruci-Fiction in Space" further delves into the Kennedy assassination, and concludes that human beings have evolved from monkeys to men and, finally, into guns.[32] "A Place in the Dirt" is another personal song characterized by Adam's rumination and self-analysis of his place in Holy Wood.[49]

"We truly sit in the shadow of death, or rather the billboard that advertises it. We're all going to die... and if enough people are taking photos, we will all be stars."

Marilyn Manson[41]

"The Nobodies" is a mournful, elegiac dirge that begins with a synth-drum and harpsichord introduction.[32][49] The verse "[t]oday I'm dirty and I want to be pretty, tomorrow I know I'm just dirt" is sung with an Iggy Pop-style vocal delivery that builds to the adrenaline-fuelled chorus of "[w]e are the nobodies, we wanna be somebodies, when we're dead they'll know just who we are. Some children died the other day, we fed machines and then we prayed, puked up and down in morbid faith, you should have seen the ratings that day."[9][32][49] CMJ noted that the song was likely to be interpreted by some people as a tribute to the perpetrators of Columbine, but that its point was not to glorify violence; rather, it was to depict a society drenched in its children's blood.[32] "The Death Song" is the turning point for Adam; he no longer cares.[54] Manson described it as being sarcastic and nihilistic: "it's like 'We have no future and we don't give a fuck'."[54] Kerrang! described it as among the album's "heaviest" songs.[49]

In "Lamb of God", Manson uses the examples of the assassinations of Jesus Christ, JFK, and John Lennon to criticize his accusers. He illustrates their hunger for venerating dead people into martyrs and superstars, and for turning tragedy into televised spectacle.[4][56] The bridge paraphrases the chorus of "Across the Universe".[33] Manson notes that even though John Lennon sang that "nothing's going to change my world", "[Lennon's killer] Mark David Chapman came along and proved him very wrong. That was always something, growing up, that was very sad and tragic to me—a song that I always identified with."[33] "Burning Flag" is a heavy metal song that recalls the sound of American industrial metal band Ministry.[49] Lennon's "Working Class Hero" was covered in the period between the band's August 30, 2000, appearance at the Kerrang! Awards and the November 14, 2000, launch of the album.[72][33][74] In describing Lennon's idealism and influence, Manson said that, "some of Lennon's Communist sentiments in his music later in his life were very dangerous. I think he died because of it. I don't think his death was any sort of accident. Aside from that, I think he's one of my favorite songwriters of all time."[72]


A poster used to promote Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) in the UK.

After announcing that it would be his only mode of contact with the outside world, Manson regularly posted updates about the then-nascent album on the band's website to generate interest and anticipation among fans.[35] Promotion began as early as June 9, 1999, with an update stating that he was writing early compositions for a new album in tandem with an original screenplay.[75] On December 16, 1999, he posted a four-minute video clip, accompanied by a written address, which elaborated on the upcoming album's themes, and featured excerpts of the band performing two new songs.[41] The first cut was a rock song that later became the single "Disposable Teens", while the second cut was a rough demo cover of the ballad "Little Child" (otherwise known as "Mommy Dear"), originally sung by Constance Towers in the 1964 Samuel Fuller neo-noir film The Naked Kiss.[41] He described the album as "the most violent yet beautiful creation we have accomplished. This is a soundtrack for a world that is being sold to kids and then being destroyed by them. But maybe that's exactly what it deserves."[35][41] An acoustic version of the song "Sick City", from Charles Manson's 1970 album Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, later appeared on February 14, 2000, as "an impromptu Valentine's Day gift to fans".[76] The song, however, was not intended to be included in either the upcoming album or the Holy Wood feature film.[77]

On April 12, 2000, Manson wrote that they were completing the final stages of recording, and posted a downloadable silent movie that documented the process.[48] This was followed on August 9, 2000, with a posting of the cover of the Holy Wood novel and a sound clip of "The Love Song" the next day.[78] On August 25, 2000, he released three tracks, "Burning Flag", "Cruci-Fiction in Space", and "The Love Song", for digital download on their website.[79] He then traveled to the UK to perform "Disposable Teens" on the October 12, 2000, episode of BBC One's Top of the Pops.[80] On October 27, 2000, the band launched the worldwide Guns, God and Government Tour.[64][81] Video footage and photographs from the inaugural show at the Minneapolis Orpheum Theatre and Milwaukee Eagles Ballroom were posted on the band's website on November 2, 2000, which showed them performing "Disposable Teens" and "The Fight Song".[82]

From November 1 to November 13, 2000, the UK division of Nothing/Interscope Records held a contest to promote the album and the launch of the UK version of the band's official website. The contest invited fans to log on the site daily to pick up a series of coded clues which led to a message linked to the album. Fans who solved the riddle received an exclusive download and were entered into a draw to win a week-long trip for two to meet the frontman in Hollywood, California.[83] In Italy, a promotional CD-ROM called Holy Manson was released in February 2001.

In mid 2001 Universal Music Group received criticism for airing commercials which promoted the album on MTV's Total Request Live (TRL).[84] Manson voiced suspicion that former Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman had a part in its orchestration.[84] At the time the Senator had just introduced a bill to the United States Congress called The Media Marketing Accountability Act, which sought to levy criminal penalties against entertainment industry distributors who market violent and sexually explicit media to minors.[85][86] The proposed legislation stemmed from the publication of the Federal Trade Commission investigation he, along with senators Brownback and Hatch, had requested from then-US President Bill Clinton at the May 4, 1999, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on entertainment industry marketing practices to minors.[27][28][87][88][89][90]

TV promotional commercial


"This is the final piece of a triptych that I began with Antichrist Superstar. The character of Omēga [from Mechanical Animals] has been disposed of, as he was a ruse to lure the commercial mall-goers into the web of destruction that I've always planned since the beginning."

Marilyn Manson[35]

On February 29, 2000, Manson confirmed that the album was on track for a "Fall of 2000" release schedule.[30] By August 2, the singer announced on their website that it was projected for an October 24 release through Nothing/Interscope Records. The announcement was accompanied by an early draft of the tracklisting, listed in no particular order. The following week, weekly previews of the new album featuring new songs or artwork, began appearing on the site in order for fans to be able to "see it and hear it here first before someone gets it inappropriately and without our permission". Manson also stated his desire for the site "to be a place where the true fans can get what they're looking for rather than having to find it through unapproved means."[91] On August 25, 2000, the complete track listing for the new album was released.[79]

On September 18, 2000, Manson clarified in a nine-minute video posting that the album's US release was moved to a finalized date of November 14, 2000, and confirmed that the album's first single would be "Disposable Teens".[33][92] It later became apparent that the postponement of the release date came as a result of further fine-tuning work being done during the final mixing stage.[55] The album was released on November 13, 2000, in the UK and on December 5, 2000, in Japan, through Nothing and Interscope Records.[93]

On the evening of November 14, 2000, Manson, Ramirez, and John5 took a short break from the tour to celebrate the album's launch by playing a brief invitation-only acoustic set at the Saci nightclub in New York City. Tickets for the event were given away through radio contests, via the band's website, and by being among the first 100 to buy the album at the Tower Records store in New York's Broadway Avenue. The set comprised of four songs that included a cover of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" and Johnny Mandel's theme song for the TV series M*A*S*H, "Suicide Is Painless". Manson noted that the latter song was "[was] far more depressing than anything I could have ever written."[94][95] The following day he appeared on Total Request Live (TRL) in New York's Times Square for a segment titled "Mothers Against Marilyn Manson" ("MAMM").[95] The band later performed the first single at MTV's New Year's Eve celebration, along with a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender", and again on January 8, 2001, at the 2001 American Music Awards.[96][97]


Manson in Bishop's dalmatic and mitre, similar to an attire he wore in the music video for Disposable Teens.

Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was anchored by three singles. The first two were each released in three versions. The first single, "Disposable Teens", debuted as a music video directed by Samuel Bayer[83][98] on Total Request Live on October 25, 2000.[83][98] In the following weeks the single was released as two standalone single EPs. The first version, titled "Disposable Teens Pt.1", was released on November 6, 2000, in the UK,[83][99] and features Manson's cover of "Working Class Hero".[100] It was released as a maxi single in the UK on August 21, 2002.[101] The second version, titled "Disposable Teens Pt.2", followed on November 14, 2000, and features a cover of "Five to One" by The Doors.[102] This version was released in the UK as a maxi single and as a 12" picture disc vinyl EP on October 31, 2000, and on November 6, 2000, respectively.[103][104]

The second single, "The Fight Song", was also released was also released in three versions. The first version, titled "The Fight Song Pt.1", was released on January 29, 2001, in the US and on February 19, 2001, in the UK.[105][106][107][108] "The Fight Song Pt.1" was also released as a 12" picture disc vinyl EP on February 19, 2001, in the UK.[109] Both feature a remix by Joey Jordison of the heavy metal band Slipknot.[106][110] The second version, titled "The Fight Song Pt.2", was released on February 02, 2001, in the US and on March 6, 2001, in the UK.[111][112] The music video was directed by W.I.Z.. It generated minor controversy for its violent depiction of an American football game between jocks and goths, which some sources interpreted to be an exploitation of the Columbine tragedy.[97][105][106] Manson dismissed these claims as "People [wanting to] put into it what ... helps them sell newspapers or ... write a headline", adding that "Flak is my job."[106]

As early as February 10, 2001, Manson indicated that the "The Nobodies" would be the album's third single.[113][114] The music video, directed by Paul Fedor, premiered on MTV in June 2001.[84] Originally, Manson expressed interest to film the music video in Russia "because the atmosphere, the desolation, the coldness and the architecture would really suit the song."[113] Another initial concept intended to incorporate the MTV stunt and prank TV series, Jackass, due to the song's inclusion in the show's soundtrack.[84] However, this idea was abandoned after the show drew the ire of Senator Joseph Lieberman.[84] The third single was released in physical format, on September 3, 2001, in the UK and, on October 6, 2001, in the US.[115][116] A remixed version of the song later appeared in the 2001 Johnny Depp film From Hell.[117]

Cover and packaging[edit]

An assemblage of the published tarot cards from the specially commissioned deck. Due to Manson's interest in their symbolism, each card has been reinterpreted to reflect the iconography of the album.

The album artwork was designed by P. R. Brown and Marilyn Manson.[49] Manson began conceptualizing it as he was writing the songs, and Brown and Manson worked in tandem to realize the imagery after they decided to do the work themselves.[49] It contains many elements from alchemy and the tarot.[49]

The album uses the symbol of the planet Mercury, commonly used in alchemy, as an identifying logo. Expanding on its relationship with the album's concept, he stated, "It represents both the androgyne and the prima materia, which has been associated with Adam, the first man. And all of these things are major influences into the writing of the new album."[79]

Manson also commissioned a redesigned set of fourteen Major Arcana tarot cards, based on the Rider-Waite deck.[52] He explained that his interest in tarot was grounded in an attraction to the symbolism rather than the idea of divination.[52] The cards depict each member of the band in a surrealistic tableaux.[52] Each one was reinterpreted to reflect the iconography of the album.[49] For instance, The Emperor is shown with prosthetic legs and clutching a rifle while sitting in a wheelchair in front of an American flag; The Fool is depicted walking off a cliff, with grainy images of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and a JFK campaign poster in the background; and Justice weighs The Bible against the Brain.[52] The album's inner sleeve contains nine of these cards: The Magician, The Devil, The Emperor, The Hermit, The Fool, Justice, The High Priestess, Death, and The Hierophant.[49][52] The remaining extant cards include The Star, The World, The Tower, and The Hanged Man.[52]

Highly-stylized rendition of the alchemical symbol for Mercury used as the logo for the Holy Wood era.

The cover art, which portrays Manson as a crucified Jesus Christ with a torn-off mandible, is intended as a criticism of censorship and America's obsession with media martyrs.[33] It is a cropped version of the reinterpreted Hanged Man card.[49] Beneath it is an obscured copy of the coroner's report of John F. Kennedy, showing the words "clinical record" and "autopsy".[118] The Marilyn Manson typeface uses the same font as the Disney World logo of the 1960s.[54] Manson explained his choice for the cover further: "I think it's more offensive to Christians for me to say, 'I believe in the story of Christ and I enjoy the images that you present, but for different reasons than you'. I've taken my own interpretation, that's more offensive than Antichrist Superstar, and just completely disvaluing it. I'm going to turn a bunch of kids onto Christianity in my own sick, twisted way."[54]

A still from X-Files (season 8, episode 17: Empedocles)

The cover generated controversy upon release. Some copies were issued with a cardboard sleeve featuring an alternative cover, as some retailers refused to stock the album with the original artwork.[73][119] A pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, threatened to go on hunger strike unless the record was pulled from the shelves.[59] Manson described these actions as attempts at censorship and stated that "the irony is that my point of the photo on the album was to show people that the crucifixion of Christ is, indeed, a violent image. My jaw is missing as a symbol of this very kind of censorship. This doesn't piss me off as much as it pleases me, because those offended by my album cover have successfully proven my point."[119][4] For this reason, Gigwise ranked the cover 16th on their list of The 50 Most Controversial Album Covers Of All Time!.[120]

Due to the controversy that surrounded the packaging, three different covers for this album exist. The standard cover depicted Manson as The Hanged Man, the censored UK cover depicted "stains" on its cover, and a alternate sleeve release depicted a jawless Manson on the front, and the aforementioned "stains" on the back.


Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was released in three physical formats. The standard jewel case CD release contains a single Enhanced CD, a gatefold booklet, and a card stock outer slipcase.[39] The limited UK edition CD features a bonus track acoustic version of "The Nobodies", while the limited Japanese edition CD contains both the UK bonus track and a live rendition of the song "Mechanical Animals" as bonus material.[121] Universal Music Japan released an Original Recording Remastered version of the album in Super High Material CD (SHM-CD) on December 3, 2008, and a limited edition 10th-anniversary commemorative reissue in 2010.[122][123][124] The LP vinyl release was pressed on two black discs contained in a gatefold paperboard slipcase.[125] The Compact Cassette release contained a single cassette tape, a gatefold booklet and a card stock outer slipcase.[126]

A digital version, in MP3 format, has been available from Amazon.com since November 14, 2000.[127]


Critical reception[edit]

 Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 72/100
Review scores
Source Rating
allmusic 4.5/5 stars [128]
Billboard (85/100) [129]
Entertainment Weekly (B) [130]
LA Weekly 4.5/5 stars[129]
Robert Christgau Rating-Christgau-dud.png [131]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [132]
Drowned in Sound (10/10) [133]
Los Angeles Times 2/4 stars[134]
PopMatters (favorable)[56]
Q 4/5 stars[129]

Holy Wood received mixed to positive reviews from most music critics.[135] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[135] Katherine Turman of Amazon, quipped that "[t]he impact of Marilyn Manson's subversive musical agenda has waned, and what's left is a provocative, talented artist writing affecting, powerful, and yes, controversial songs ... Holy Wood is a musically diverse and powerful statement ... [that] is intelligent, dynamic, and multifaceted, with myriad charms that are evident to the tuned-in listener."[136] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of allmusic praised it as "[T]he definitive Marilyn Manson album, since it's tuneful and abrasive." He specifically complimented the band for "figur[ing] out [how] to meld the hooks and subtle sonic shading of Mechanical Animals with the ugly, neo-industrial metallicisms of Antichrist [Superstar]" and said that "much of its charm lies in Manson trying so hard, perfecting details ... there's so much effort, Holy Wood winds up a stronger and more consistent album than any of his other work. If there's any problem, it's that Manson's shock rock seems a little quaint in 2000 ... [However,] it's to Warner's credit as, yes, an artist that Holy Wood works anyway."[128]

Barry Walters of Rolling Stone said that the "The band truly rocks: Its malevolent groove fleshes out its leader's usual complaints with an exhilarating swagger that's the essence of rock and roll."[132] LA Weekly was similarly impressed and pointed out the songs "almost all contain a double-take chord change or a textural overdose or a mind-blowing bridge, and they'll be terroristic in concert."[137] Revolver magazine editor Christopher Scapelliti was most impressed by the record's earnestness, and stated that "For all Holy Wood's well-tempered melodies and drunken pandemonium, what comes across loudest on the album is not the music but the sense of injury expressed in Manson's lyrics. Like Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon's bare-boned solo debut, Holy Wood screams with a primal fury that's evident even in its quietest moments."[38] According to Billboard magazine, the album proved that Manson is "one of the most skilled lyricists in rock today."[137]

Promotional photograph from the Holy Wood era entitled "The Lamb of God".

Other critics found larger shortcomings with the album. Drowned in Sound, which assigns a normalized rating out of 10, gave the album a score of 10. They noted, however, "There [are] a number of criticisms that could come Marilyn Manson's way: too much more of the same, too much philosophical posing, too much sloganeering. Regardless, all this needs to attain perfection is a few minutes shaved off of the overall running time ... [and] lyrically it actually says something intelligent for once and musically it has a lot more variation and scope than the Limp Bizkits of the world."[133] PopMatters agreed and stated, "The central flaw of Holy Wood is that the power of its message, an important and provocative one, is watered down by its artistic pretensions. While Holy Wood is often affecting, it would be a better album if it was shorter and dealt with its subject matter directly, instead of through the veil of the 'concept album'."[56] Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times was also disappointed that Holy Wood did not live up to "the promise of Mechanical Animals." In sharp contrast to Erlewine, he viewed the musical cross-pollination of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals as confusion on the band's part on "where to turn [musically], as if uncertain which is the right move commercially in a rock world taken over by Limp Bizkit and Eminem." He concluded that "[t]his is music that sounds reasonable on the radio but crumbles under scrutiny."[134]

Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club found himself wholly unconvinced, and remarked that "[This] sort of agitprop is thoroughly predictable, and the only thing that could prove shocking about Manson's antics would be if the singer actually evinced any power over his followers. Here, he seems entranced by his own power, which may be why his dark worldview sounds baseless even as he offers sharp hooks others would kill for."[138]

Commercial performance[edit]

Since early critical appraisal of Holy Wood was far less favorable than the band's previous effort, Mechanical Animals, many critics and retailers questioned if the band still carried appeal in the music scene of the early 2000's. Best Buy's sales projections in 2000 estimated its first week sales would be around 150,000 units nationally, significantly less than the 223,000 units sold by Mechanical Animals in its first week.[139] In the US, the album debuted and peaked at № 13 on the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 117,000, initially making it a commercial disappointment.[140] Lackluster performance continued to plague the album and, by its second week, it had dropped a massive 47 spots; barely staying inside the Top 60 at the № 60 position.[141] The album's free fall charting trajectory slowed considerably by the following week with a № 76 finish but continued, nevertheless, and by the fourth week it dropped another 25 spots (out of the Top 100 altogether) into № 101.[141] It ended the year with an exit from the Top 130 by charting at № 133.[141]

Segueing into 2001, Holy Wood remained inside the Top 140 after dropping another 7 spots into № 140.[141] However, by the second week, it climbed 47 positions, back inside the Top 100, and settled into № 93 for the week of January 13-20.[141] It didn't stay there for long and, by the following week, landed at № 113.[141] From there the record tumbled 17 spots into № 130 followed by a fall of 13 places into № 143 and another drop of 27 spots to № 170 in the succeeding weeks.[141] It entered its 12th week at № 182 which was followed by a week at № 195, its lowest position, before dropping out of the charts completely on March 3, 2001.[141]

In total, it only spent 13 consecutive weeks on the charts, making it the shortest-charting full-length LP offering by the band until 2009's The High End of Low.[141] It was completely overshadowed by its sister albums, Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, which spent 52 and 33 weeks on the charts, respectively.[141] The album's sales figures were equally dismal and it took the record three years to attain a gold certification from the RIAA, in March 2003, for shipments of over 500,000 units.[142] However, in four other countries, including Australia, Austria, Italy and Sweden, the album peaked in the Top 10.[143] In the UK, the album peaked at № 23.[144] As of 2011, the album has sold over 9 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful in the band's catalogue.[145]

Seventeen months after Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)'s release, Manson commented on the album's lackluster US sales.[146] He attributed the lack of commercial appeal to the musical climate of the time, but argued that it stood up comparatively well to contemporary albums of the rock genre.[146] He also noted that the band's US sales figures are usually in the region of one or two million records, "and if I sell less than that I don't think it's such a disaster as if I were to sell seven or eight million records and then go on to sell just half a million records. So there was no disappointment for me."[146]


In 2001 Kerrang! named Holy Wood the year's "Best Album" at their annual Kerrang! Awards.[147] During the ceremony, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, Manson sardonically remarked that "[there is] nothing like a good school shooting to inspire a record" as he collected the award.[148]

Kerrang! ranked Holy Wood 9th in their list of Albums of the Year 2000.[149] British magazine NME ranked the album 34th in their critic's picks for the 50 Best Albums of 2000 in their "Decade In Music" series, calling it "A series of heroic rallying cries for the disenfranchised, while also baiting the American Far Right for all it's worth."[150] The record ranked 30th in the Critics Top 50[151] and 9th in the Popular Poll[152] of German magazine Musik Express/Sounds in their Albums of the Year 2000. The French edition of the British magazine Rock Sound ranked Holy Wood 15th in the Le choix de la rédaction ("Editor's choice") and 5th in Le choix des lecteurs ("Reader's choice") of their Choix des critiques ("Critic's choice") Albums of the Year 2000.[153] British magazine Record Collector also listed the album among their Best of 2000 list.[154]


On their November 10, 2010, issue, Kerrang! published a 10th-anniversary commemorative piece on the album titled "Screaming For Vengeance",[4] in which they described the record as "Manson's finest hour". It went on to note that "Set against the backdrop of what the rest of the rock and metal world were attempting at the turn of the century—Limp Bizkit were parading their jockishness with Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water and Disturbed were unveiling their contrived anger with The Sickness, for example—it put the singer into a league of his own ... [and] a decade on, there has still not been as eloquent and savage a musical attack on the media and mainstream culture as Manson achieved with Holy Wood ... [It is] still scathingly relevant today ... perhaps that's where Holy Wood achieved its greatest success. In deflecting the attention that was targeted at him back onto the media, they reacted exactly as he knew they would: by blustering and further exposing their own inadequacies ... The shame of it all, though, is that so little has changed. That the album is still so relevant today suggests it failed in its task of changing attitudes. That it exists at all, though, is a credit to a man who refused to sit and take it, but instead come out swinging."[4]

Guns, God and Government Tour[edit]

Main article: Guns, God and Government
"The Love Song" performed in Moscow, Russia, accompanied by two Russian military guards.

To support the release of the album, the band staged a worldwide stadium tour, three days after the album's original release date and seventeen days ahead of the album's actual launch, titled the Guns, God and Government Tour.[64][81] Beginning on October 27, 2000, and lasting until September 2, 2001, the tour included six legs, spanning Eurasia, Japan, and North America, with a total of 107 completed shows out of the 109 planned.[64] Typical of the band, the concerts were extremely theatrical,[81] with an average show lasting for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The sets were designed with communist, religious, and "Celebritarian" imagery in mind.[155] Manson had several costume changes throughout the sets, ranging from a Bishop's dalmatic and mitre (often confused for Papal regalia); a costume made from taxidermied animal anatomies (for example, an epaulette made from a horse's tail and a shirt made from skinned goat heads and ostrich spines); his signature black leather corset, g-string, and garter stocking ensemble; an elaborate Roman legionary-style Imperial galea; an Allgemeine SS-style peaked police cap; a black-and-white fur coat; and a giant rising conical skirt that lifted him 12 meters (40 feet) into the air.[81][156][157]

The Ozzfest leg was particularly notable on this tour, since it marked the band's first performance in Denver, Colorado, (on June 22, 2001, at the Mile High Stadium) following the Columbine High School massacre in nearby Littleton. After initially pulling out, due to scheduling conflicts, the band altered their plans in order to accommodate the Denver date.[158] Predictably, the group's decision met heavy resistance from conservative groups and Manson himself received numerous death threats and calls to skip the date.[159][160] A group of church leaders and families, related to Columbine, formed an organization specifically to oppose the show, called 'Citizens for Peace and Respect', which drew the support of Colorado governor Bill Owens and representative Tom Tancredo. On their website, they asserted that the band "promotes hate, violence, death, suicide, drug use, and the attitudes and actions of the Columbine killers".[161] In response, Manson issued a statement, saying,

I am truly amazed that after all this time, religious groups still need to attack entertainment and use these tragedies as a pitiful excuse for their own self-serving publicity. In response to their protests, I will provide a show where I balance my songs with a wholesome Bible reading. This way, fans will not only hear my so-called, 'violent' point of view, but we can also examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like 'entertainment' to me.
Marilyn Manson[162]

The Denver show also provided the backdrop for Manson's landmark interview on America's climate of fear and culture of gun violence in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary film Bowling for Columbine. When Moore asked what he would have said if he had the opportunity to speak to the students at Columbine High, he replied, "I wouldn't say a single word. I would listen to what they have to say and that's what no one did."[163]

Two concert films depicting the worldwide tour were recorded. The Guns, God and Government DVD, released by Eagle Rock Entertainment on October 29, 2002, featured live concert footage spliced from performances in Los Angeles, Europe, Russia, and Japan.[164][165] It also included a 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Death Parade, with guest appearances from Ozzy Osbourne and Eminem.[165] Seven years later, it was followed by Guns, God, and Government – Live in L.A. Released on Blu-ray format by Eagle Rock Entertainment division Eagle Records on November 17, 2009, it depicted the sixteen-song set of the Los Angeles performance in its entirety.[166][167]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Manson.[39][128]

A: In the Shadow

  1. "GodEatGod" – 2:34
  2. "The Love Song" – 3:16
  3. "The Fight Song" – 2:55
  4. "Disposable Teens" – 3:01

D: The Androgyne

  1. "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" – 4:18
  2. ""President Dead"" – 3:13
  3. "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" – 4:09
  4. "Cruci-Fiction in Space"' – 4:56
  5. "A Place in the Dirt" – 3:37

A: Of Red Earth

  1. "The Nobodies" – 3:35
  2. "The Death Song" – 3:30
  3. "Lamb of God" – 4:39
  4. "Born Again" – 3:20
  5. "Burning Flag" – 3:21

M: The Fallen

  1. "Coma Black: a) Eden Eye, b) The Apple of Discord" – 5:58
  2. "Valentine's Day" – 3:31
  3. "The Fall of Adam" – 2:34
  4. "King Kill 33°" – 2:18
  5. "Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing)" – 3:24

Bonus tracks

  1. "The Nobodies" (Acoustic Version) (Bonus track on UK and Japanese versions) – 3:33
  2. "Mechanical Animals" (live) (Bonus track on Japanese version) - 4:41


The disc contains a data track which leads to a video no longer hosted by Interscope's website.[39] This video was later included as a secret track on the companion DVD of Lest We Forget.[168]

The "Unmastered - No particular order" promo version track listing[edit]

1	God Eat God
2	The Love Song
3	The Fight Song
4	The Death Song
5	Disposable Teens
6	Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)
7	Lamb Of God
8	The Nobodies
9	A Place In The Dirt
10	Coma Black
10.1	Eden Eye
10.2	The Apple Of Discord
11	Cruci-Fiction In Space
12	"President Dead"
13	In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death
14	Burning Flag
15	Valentine's Day
15.1	The Fall Of Adam
16	King Kill 33 (Gun Factory)
17	Count To Six And Die

This version was dated August 3, 2000, and this copy was labeled "unmastered" and in "no particular order". "The Love Song" contains additional spoken word intro, "Coma Black" does not contain the intro, "The Fall of Adam" is not a separate track, "Born Again" is not included.


A short film known as Autopsy could be viewed by running a "START.exe" program included in the disk (in the same way one would run a similar program to listen to the hidden track "Untitled" on the previous album Mechanical Animals. While the video, in which a dead Manson has a fetus removed from his skull during autopsy, was originally hosted on the Interscope website it is no longer featured there and can only be viewed as an easter egg on the Lest We Forget (The Best of) bonus DVD.


Album credits[edit]


GodEatGod (music: MANSON) keyboards and bass · synth: Manson · Vocals: Manson · Guitars: John5 · Lead guitar: T. Ramirez · Ambience: M.W. Gacy · Synth: Bon Harris · Noise rhythm guitar: Dave Sardy

The Love Song (music: RAMIREZ., 5) Vocals and outro-lead guitar: Manson · Guitar and Bass: T. Ramirez · Guitars: John5 · Keyboards and samples: M.W. Gacy · Live drums and siren loop: Ginger Fish · Synth and drum programming: Bon Harris

The Fight Song (music: 5) Vocals: Manson · Bass and additional guitar: T. Ramirez · Rhythm and lead guitar: John5 · Keyboards and loops: M.W. Gacy · Live drums: Ginger Fish

Disposable Teens (music: 5, RAMIREZ) Vocals: Manson · Bass: T. Ramirez · Guitar and synth guitar: John5 · Synth and electronic percussion: Bon Harris · Live drums: Ginger Fish · Keyboards: M.W. Gacy · Pills: D. Sardy

Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis) (music: RAMIREZ, 5) Vocals and Optigan: Manson · Bass and additional lead guitar: T. Ramirez · All guitars: John5 · Loop and live drums: Ginger Fish · Synth and loops: M.W. Gacy · Drum programming and synth: Bon Harris

"President Dead" (music: RAMIREZ., 5, GACY) Vocals, syncussion, and mellotron: Manson · Rhythm Guitar and bass: T. Ramirez · Lead and rhythm guitar: John5 · Loop and live drums: Ginger Fish · Keyboards: M.W. Gacy · Backing Vocals: Alex Suttle

In the Shadow of the Valley of Death (music: RAMIREZ., 5) Vocals and distorted flute: Manson · All Keyboards: M.W. Gacy · All guitars: John5 · Death Loop and live drums: Ginger Fish · Bass: T. Ramirez

Cruci-Fiction in Space (music: RAMIREZ., 5, GACY) Vocals and piano: Manson · Rhythm guitar, bass: T. Ramirez · Rhythm and lead guitar: John5 · Live drums: Ginger Fish · Keyboards, loops and ambiences: M.W. Gacy · Insect hi-hat: Bon Harris

A Place in the Dirt (music: 5) Vocals and Ambience: Manson · Synth bass and keyboards: M.W,. Gacy · Live drums and loop: Ginger Fish · Bass: T. Ramirez · Acoustic, electric and slide guitars: John5 · Synths, sleigh bells and manipulation: Bon Harris

The Nobodies (music: 5, MANSON) electric harpsichord: Manson · Guitars: John5 · Bass: T. Ramirez · Keyboards and ambiences: M.W. Gacy · Drum machine and live kit: Ginger Fish · Vocals: Manson

The Death Song (music: 5, MANSON) Vocals: Manson · guitars: John 5 · Bass: T.Ramirez · Synth bass and electronics: Bon Harris · Loop and live drums: Ginger Fish · Children's choir and canned laughter of dead people unsure of why they are laughing: M.W. Gacy

Lamb of God (music: RAMIREZ.) Vocals, piano and pianette: Manson · Bass, lead and Leslie guitar, keys and drum loop: T. Ramirez · Acoustic, rhythm and lead guitar: John5 · Live drums: Ginger Fish · Ambience: M.W. Gacy · Synths: Bon Harris

Born Again (music: RAMIREZ., 5) Vocals and synth bass: Manson · Bass and verse guitar: T. Ramirez · Guitar and lead guitar: John5 · Keyboards: M.W. Gacy · Drum Programming: Ginger Fish and Bon Harris · Bass and other synths: Bon Harris · Additional loops: Danny Saber · Recorded live February 14, 1997

Burning Flag (music: RAMIREZ., 5) Vocals: Manson Guitar and bass: T. Ramirez · Guitar: John5 · Live drums: Ginger Fish · Organic drum programming: Bon Harris and D. Sardy · Synth and destructive manipulation: Bon Harris · Keyboards: M.W. Gacy

Coma Black a)(music: MANSON, 5, RAMIREZ.) Vocals and clean rhythm guitar: Manson · Bass, warped rhythm guitars and add. lead: T. Ramirez · Phase, lead and rhythm guitar: John5 · Loops and live drums: Ginger Fish · Synths, ambience and keyboards: M.W. Gacy · b)(music: MANSON) Vocals and clean guitar: Manson · Rhythm Guitar: John5 · Bass and lead guitar: T. Ramirez · Loop: Ginger Fish

Valentine's Day (music: RAMIREZ., MANSON) Vocals and piano: Manson · Bass and noise lead guitars: T. Ramirez · Loop and live drums: Ginger Fish · Lead and rhythm guitars: John5 · Keyboards and mellotron: M.W. Gacy · Synthesizers: Bon Harris

The Fall of Adam (music: RAMIREZ., 5) Vocals: Manson · Acoustic, rhythm and synth guitar: John 5 · Bass and rhythm guitar: T. Ramirez · Live drums: Ginger Fish

King Kill 33° (music: RAMIREZ) Vocals: Manson · Bass: T. Ramirez · Guitars and synth guitars: John5 · Keyboards and Synth: M.W. Gacy · Live drums: Ginger Fish

Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing) (music: 5) Vocals: Manson · Synth strings and Ambiences: M.W. Gacy · Piano: Bon Harris

····· Celebritarian™ used by permission



Cover gallery[edit]

Charts, certifications and procession[edit]


Charts (2000) Peak position
Australia (ARIA)[143] 8
Austria (Ö3)[143] 6
Belgium (Flanders) (Ultratop 50)[169][143] 34
Belgium (Wallonia) (Ultratop)[143] 29
Canada (CANOE)[141][170] 13
Germany (Media Control)[171] 11
Finland (Mitä Hitti)[143] 25
France (SNEP)[143] 12
Ireland (IRMA)[172] 21
Italy (FIMI)[143] 7
Netherlands (MegaCharts)[143] 53
New Zealand (RIANZ)[143] 18
Norway (VG-Lista)[143] 12
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[143] 7
Switzerland (Hitparade)[143] 20
United Kingdom (OCC)[173] 23
United States (Billboard 200)[141][170] 13
Top Internet Albums[141][170] 10


Region Provider Certification Shipment Actual Sales
Canada CRIA Gold[174] 50,000+
Switzerland IFPI Gold[175] 20,000+
United States RIAA Gold[142] 500,000+


Single Chart (2000) Peak position
"Disposable Teens" Australia (ARIA)[176] 24
France (SNEP)[176] 67
Italy (FIMI)[176] 7
Netherlands (MegaCharts)[176] 99
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[176] 52
Switzerland (Hitparade)[176] 73
United Kingdom (OCC)[173] 12
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[177] 22
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[177] 24
Single Chart (2001) Peak position
"The Fight Song" Austria (Ö3)[178] 59
Finland (Mitä Hitti)[178] 19
United Kingdom (OCC)[173] 24
"The Nobodies" Austria (Ö3)[179] 56
France (SNEP)[179] 94
Italy (FIMI)[179] 17
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[179] 8
Switzerland (Hitparade)[179] 96
United Kingdom (OCC)[173] 34

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
Flag-uk.png United Kingdom November 13, 2000 Interscope Records Compact disc 4908292
Flag-au.png Australia November 14, 2000 Interscope Records Compact disc
Flag-us.png United States of America November 14, 2000 Interscope Records Compact disc 490790
Flag-jp.png Japan December 5, 2000 Interscope Records Compact disc


  • The front cover of the demo Big Black Bus features the band's first use of the term "Holy Wood", where the words "HOLYWOOD PROD." can be seen on the side of the school bus. The term was later used in a July 28, 1999 post by Manson on MarilynManson.net's message board, which opened with the line "Hello from the depths of Holy Wood..."[180]
  • The liner foldout of Holy Wood appears in the X-Files episode "Empedocles," where it is recovered from the desk of a possessed office worker.
  • The term "Holy Wood" was once used in a poem by Aleister Crowley, to whom Marilyn Manson frequently references. It is also used as a mockery of Hollywood, as per the imagery in the album's cover art. 'Holywood Productions' was also painted on the side of the black bus in which Charles Manson traveled briefly in the 1960's before settling at Spahn Ranch. It simply a misspelling of the word Hollywood. 


Marilyn Manson[181]
  • Marilyn Manson – arranger, vocals, producer, art direction, concept, syncussion, optigan, mellotron, distorted flute, synth bass, keyboards, piano, pianette, ambiance, electric harpsichord, rhythm guitar
  • Twiggy Ramirez – bass, guitar (rhythm, lead, Leslie, warped), keyboards
  • John 5 – guitar (lead, rhythm, acoustic, synth, electric, slide, phase)
  • Madonna Wayne Gacy – synths, ambiance, keyboards, samples, bass synth, synth strings, mellotron, "Children's choir and canned laughter of dead people unsure of why they are laughing"
  • Ginger Fish – drums (live, drum machine), death & siren loops, keyboards
  • Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb – synthesizers, programming, pre-production editing, organic drum programming, bass, keyboard, "Insect hi-hat", sleigh bells, (destructive) manipulation, electronics, piano
  • Paulie Northfield – additional engineering
  • D. Sardy (Dave Sardy) – producer, synths, (organic) drum programming, mixing, noise rhythm guitar, "pills"
  • P.R. Brown – art direction, design, photography
  • Greg Fidelman – engineer, all Pro-Tools
  • Nick Raskulinecz – assistant engineer
  • Joe Zook – assistant engineer
  • Kevin Guarnieri – assistant engineer
  • Danny Saber – additional loops
  • Alex Suttle – backing vocals

See also[edit]


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  2. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-11-12/news/0011120466_1_marilyn-manson-antichrist-superstar-holy-wood
  3. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-11-12/news/0011120466_1_marilyn-manson-antichrist-superstar-holy-wood
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 Bryant, Tom (November 2010) [2001] (in English). Screaming For Vengeance (interview). Kerrang!. p. 40-42. 
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  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 Kessler, Ted (2000-09-09). "Marilyn Manson Goes Ape". NME (IPC Media): 28-31. 
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 France, Lisa Respers (2009-04-20). "Columbine left its indelible mark on pop culture". CNN (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (Time Warner)). http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/04/20/columbine.pop.culture/index.html?iref=allsearch. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
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  1. Harris and Klebold appeared on the May 3, 1999, cover of Time, titled The Monsters Next Door, along with their victims. The killer's pictures are colored and superimposed over their victims' school photos, which are noticeably smaller, and in black and white.[68] They appeared again on Time's December 20, 1999, cover, titled The Columbine Tapes. This time the picture depicts only the killers—with their weapons—in a screenshot taken from the school's surveillance camera of the cafeteria during the rampage.[69]
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