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"I'm not a slave to a god that doesn't exist!"

Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) is a 2000 album by Marilyn Manson, the last in a trilogy/"triptych" with albums Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Mechanical Animals (1998) as their predecessors. Since the triptych's story is told in reverse order, Holy Wood therefore begins the narrative.

Much like the others, this album is a Rock Opera/Concept Album. Holy Wood's concept follows a protagonist named Adam Kadmon (derived from the Kabbalah, meaning "original man") who travels from Death Valley (a land populated by social outcasts) to Holy Wood (a city-sized amusement park with main attractions of death and violence). He tries staging a revolution but finds stiff opposition in Holy Wood's perpetually violent culture, its "guns, God, government" ideology, and its religion of "celebritarianism" where dead celebrities are worshipped and John F. Kennedy is revered like a modern Jesus.

The album came out when Manson was under fire for supposedly inspiring the 1999 high school shootings in Columbine, because the teens who committed the murders were fans of him. It later turned out that this rumor was false, but this didn't diminish the public outcry about the rock singer, whom many Moral Guardians saw as a "corruptor of youth." Manson felt demonized by the media and refused all interviews, even to defend himself, because he didn't want to contribute to the media frenzy.

Instead, he made Holy Wood a Concept Album, its songs criticizing journalists, politicians and religious groups for capitalizing on the tragic shootings, while at the same time sensationalizing violence, like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, John Lennon and the Columbine murders. He also argued that glorifying bloodshed was nothing new, because Christians had made Jesus' crucifixion an icon for centuries.

Still, at the time Holy Wood didn't sell as well as his other albums. However, a mere decade later it has been Vindicated by History so much that it is now, in fact, the best-selling album in Manson's catalogue!

The album produced the hit singles "Disposable Teens," "The Fight Song" and "The Nobodies."


Tracklist:

  1. "God Eat God" 2:34
  2. "The Love Song" 3:16
  3. "The Fight Song" 2:55
  4. "Disposable Teens" 3:01
  5. "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" (4:18)
  6. "President Dead" (3:13)
  7. "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" (4:09)
  8. "Cruci-Fiction in Space" (4:56)
  9. "A Place in the Dirt" (3:37)
  10. "The Nobodies" (3:35)
  11. "The Death Song" (3:29)
  12. "Lamb of God" (4:39)
  13. "Born Again" (3:20)
  14. "Burning Flag" (3:21)
  15. "Coma Black" (5:58)
  16. "Valentine's Day" (3:31)
  17. "The Fall of Adam" (2:34)
  18. "King Kill 33°" (2:18)
  19. "Count to Six and Die" (3:24)

Holy Tropes:

  • Adam and/or Eve: The album makes many allusions to Adam and Eve. The song list is divided in four circles that speel the word A-D-A-M, Adam Kadmon is the main protagonist symbolizing the first man and some songs make references to the Garden of Eden, most notably "Coma Black".
  • Album Title Drop: There is no complete Title Track, but the words "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death" do appear in the song of the same name.
    I am a revolution
    Pull my knuckles down if I could
    I am a revelation
    And I'm nailed to the Holy Wood
  • Alliterative Title: "God Eat God", "King Kill 33°"
  • Anti-Hero: Protagonist Adam Kadmon.
  • As the Good Book Says...: From the cover alone this album takes a lot of inspiration from the Bible:
    • "Cruci-Fiction In Space"
    This is your creation
    The atom of Eden was a bomb
    If Jack was the baptist, we'd drink wine from the head
  • Belief Makes You Stupid and Blasphemous Boast:
    • "The Fight Song":
    I'm not a slave / for a God that doesn't exist!
    • "Burning Flag"
    If God was alive, he would hate you anyway
    • "The Death Song"
    We write our prayers on a little bomb
    Kiss it on the face and send it to God
    • "Disposable Teens"
    I never really hated a one true god
    but the god of the people I hated
  • Book Ends: The first and last sounds are of a metal key rattling on a lock, giving the idea of the album being "unlocked" and subsequently closed.
  • BSoD Song: The album concludes the trilogy about the antichrist superstar. Albeit Manson said this one is the beginning, thus the Start of Darkness.
  • Call-Back: The track "Coma Black" is a callback to "Coma White" from Mechanical Animals.
  • Concept Album: The album deals with people and media's obsession with death and murder through the ill-fated rise and fall of Adam Kadmon.
  • Crapsack World:
    • "The Fight Song":
      But I'm not a slave to a world that doesn't give a shit
    • "The Death Song":
      We sing the death song, kids
      Because we've got no future
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The album cover.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: A theme on the album, where murdered celebrities like John F. Kennedy and John Lennon are worshipped as saints.
  • Downer Ending: The album ends with Adam's revolution being corrupted into exactly what it was fighting against, and the final track "Count to Six and Die" insinuates that Adam kills himself.
  • Face on the Cover: Marilyn Manson hanging on a cross.
  • Garden of Eden: "Coma Black" makes so many explicit and implicit allusions to the Garden of Eden, it could just as well be the setting of the song. Main character Adam (Kadmon) is the first/primal man, he "burned all the good things in the Eden eye" (a direct reference), "she" (a woman in any way related to Eve?) "was the only thing" he was able to "love in this dying world," where also the "angel" (like the one in biblical story) has gone. "I'd kill myself to make everybody pay" would then consitute a Reality-Breaking Paradox, where Adam dies before he can be fruitful and fill the earth.
    Burned all the good things in the Eden eye
    We were too dumb to run, too dead to die
    This was never my world, you took the angel away
    I'd kill myself to make everybody pay.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • "Burning Flag"
    Multiply your death, divide by sex
    (...) We are all just stars and we're waiting
    We are all just scarred and we're hating
    (...) They gyrate and G-rate on Election Day
    • "Cruci-Fiction In Space"
    The atom of Eden note 
    I am a revolution, pull my knuckles down, if I could
    I am a revelation and I'm nailed to the Holy Wood
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads/Jesus Was Way Cool: Manson sees Jesus Christ as "the first rockstar", killed for his revolutionary ideals. He draws comparisons to John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, who were also assassinated icons whose deaths were turned into spectacles.
    • "Lamb Of God":
    If you die there's no watching
    And your ratings drop and you're forgotten
    If they kill you on their TV, you're a martyr and a lamb of God
    Nothing's going to change, nothing's going to change the world
    • "A Place In The Dirt"
    Put me in the motorcade
    Put me in the death parade
    Dress me up and take me
    Dress me up and make me your dying god
    • "The Nobodies"
    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
  • Long Title: "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)" and "Count To Six And Die (The Vacuum Of Infinite Space Encompassing)."
  • A Million is a Statistic: A literal line in "The Fight Song."
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: "Burning Flag"
    Multiply your death, divide by sex
    Add up the violence and what do you get?
    We are all just stars and we're waiting
    We are all just scarred and we're hating
    We are all just stars on your burning flag
  • Nightmare Face: Manson on the album cover.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Holy Wood" instead of Hollywood, "God Eat God" instead of "dog eat dog" and "Cruci-Fiction In Space" is a pun on "fiction" and "crucifixion".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Manson had been in the center of controversy for quite some years at this point, with the Columbine shootings of 1999 as the high point of criticism of all kinds or morality activists. The album was his way of reacting to all the finger pointing and Never My Fault accusations.
  • Religion Rant Song: See Blasphemous Boast.
  • Rock Opera: Just like the other two albums of the triptych.
  • Russian Roulette: As alluded by the title "Count to Six and Die," the album closes on one, as we hear five times a revolver going through chambers followed by the hammer hitting the empty space, and then it gets to the sixth chamber that would have the bullet (while, in true Book Ends case, the footstep noises from the opening of "GodEatGod" appear again).
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: Both the album itself, and its final track "Count to Six and Die (The Vacuum of Infinite Space Encompassing)."
  • Shout-Out: The album was directly inspired by The White Album by The Beatles, because of its role in the Charles Manson murders and the parallels Marilyn saw between that crime and the 1999 Columbine High School murders. "Disposable Teens" even borrows a line from "Revolution 1" note . Another inspiration was Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones.
    • "Lamb Of God" references the assassination of John F. Kennedy broadcast by the Zapruder Film, "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" from The White Album and the murderer of John Lennon, Mark David Chapman. The refrain "nothing's going to change the world" is very similar to Lennon's song "Across The Universe" from Let It Be.
    There was Lennon and a happy gun
    There were words on the pavement
    We were looking for the lamb of god
    we were looking for Mark David
    • "Target Audience" references the fact that Aldous Huxley died the same day John F. Kennedy was shot. It also references JFK's murderer Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as John Wilkes Booth, who shot Abraham Lincoln.
    Am I sorry you killed the Kennedy's and Huxley too?
    (...)Am I sorry for Booth and Oswald, pinks and cocaine too?
    • "God Eat God" references Humpty Dumpty:
    Dear John and all the King's men
    Can't put your head together again
    • "The Love Song" references "De Imitatione Christi," a book by Thomas A. Kempis.
    She tells me I'm a pretty bullet, an imitation Christ
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)"
    But I'm sorry Shakespeare was your scapegoat
  • The Something Song: "The Love Song," "The Fight Song" and "The Death Song".
  • Take That!: "Burning Flag"
    You can point your gun at me
    And hope it will go away
    But if God was alive
    He would hate you anyway
  • Title Track: "In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death," but the title itself doesn't appear in the lyrics. It does in "Valentine's Day"
    Although Holy Wood was sad
    They'd remember this as Valentine's Day
    Flies are waiting in the shadow of the Valley of Death
    • In "Cruci-Fiction In Space" part of the title is namedropped:
    I am a revelation and I'm nailed to the Holy Wood
    • In "Target Audience" too
    The valley of death, we are free
    Your father's your prison, you see
  • Uncertain Doom: In "Count to Six and Die," everything is set up for the last shot being fatal (we hear five clicks from a revolver used for Russian roulette), but before we hear the gun going off the song (and thus the album) ends.

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