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The Golden Age of Grotesque
Studio album by Marilyn Manson
Released United States Canada May 13, 2003
Recorded 2003 at Doppelherz Studio and the Mix Room
Genre Industrial metal, Alternative metal
Length 57:32
Label Nothing, Interscope
Producer Marilyn Manson, Tim Sköld
Marilyn Manson chronology
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)
The Golden Age of Grotesque
Lest We Forget: The Best Of
Singles from The Golden Age of Grotesque
  1. "mOBSCENE"
    Released: April 22, 2003
  2. "This is the New Shit"
    Released: September 1, 2003
  3. "(s)AINT"
    Released: 2004

The Golden Age of Grotesque is the fifth full-length studio album by Marilyn Manson released in 2003. It incorporates themes from the glamorous Swing era of the 1930s, as well as from the Weimar Republic of pre-Nazi Germany. This was the last Marilyn Manson album with guitarist John 5.

It was revealed in a 2007 edition of the British rock magazine Kerrang! that The Golden Age of Grotesque was intended to be Marilyn Manson's departure from music. Since then it has sold over 4 million copies worldwide.[1][2]


Musical and visual style

The album's musical and visual themes were primarily drawn from Mel Gordon's 2000 book Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin. Concerned that Gordon might take issue with use of the book's material, Manson called Gordon, who said he couldn't imagine a greater compliment than a popular music album based on an academic book.[3] The album artwork is also influenced by the illustrations found in Voluptuous Panic.

The Golden Age of Grotesque follows the evolution of Manson himself ("Thaeter") through to "Obsequey (The Death of Art)", or "art into a product." This album takes on dual layer storylines, first as a punk rock ballad spouting the notion to live life to its fullest in presumption that there is no future.[4] The second storyline takes a parody to the idea that living life to the fullest has led us into a nihilistic stupidity, hence the "rebel to sell" references within 'The Bright Young Things' and the transformation into a commercially acceptable "happy" icon, Mickey Mouse (Manson posed as Mickey Mouse throughout the album's publicity.)

Instrumentally, the album is more beat-driven and electronic than previous albums. This is perhaps due to Tim Skold's presence — some believe this album's sound is at times reminiscent of KMFDM, with whom Skold had collaborated prior to recording with Manson.

Lyrically, The Golden Age of Grotesque is full of historical and popular culture references, much like Holy Wood. References include Mickey Mouse, Adolf Hitler, and Oscar Wilde. As in many of his other works, he makes extensive use of word play and double-meanings, coining words like "gloominati", "scabaret sacrilegends", "vivi-sex symbol", "cocaingels", "Mobscene", "vodevil" and "para-noir". The song "Obsequey" includes a dialogue in the background which can also be heard the Japanese bonus track "Baboon Rape Party."

The Austrian-Irish artist Gottfried Helnwein collaborated with Manson on the album. The cover and the artwork inside the album sleeve was created by Helnwein, and this artwork was also shown in his exhibitions. Also included with some copies was a DVD titled Doppelherz (Double-heart), a surrealist short film directed by Manson.


 Professional ratings
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [5]
BBC Manchester 6/10 stars [6]
Billboard (Favorable) [7]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [8]
The Guardian 3/5 stars [9]
Kerrang! 4/5 stars

The album met with modest commercial success. It debuted at #1 in the United States, selling over 120,000 copies in the first week, but was the lowest selling #1 album of the year. As of November 2008, the album has sold 526,000 copies in the United States.[10] The album drew a mixed critical response. Although ending up in many critics' 'best of' lists for 2003, other critics consider this Manson's weakest album, arguing that it lacks originality and thoughtful lyrics compared to its predecessors.

The song "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth" was featured as the theme song for the 2003 video game Spawn: Armageddon.

Track listing

All lyrics by Manson

# Title Music Length
1. "Thaeter" (Instrumental) Gacy, Manson, Skold 1:14
2. "This Is the New Shit"   John 5, Manson, Skold 4:20
3. "mOBSCENE"   John 5, Manson 3:25
4. "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag"   John 5, Manson, Skold 4:11
5. "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth"   John 5, Manson 3:34
6. "The Golden Age of Grotesque"   John 5, Manson 4:05
7. "(s)AINT"   John 5, Manson, Skold 3:42
8. "Ka-boom Ka-boom"   John 5, Skold 4:02
9. "Slutgarden"   John 5, Manson 4:06
10. "♠"   John 5 4:34
11. "Para-noir"   John 5, Gacy, Manson, Skold 6:01
12. "The Bright Young Things"   John 5 4:19
13. "Better of Two Evils"   John 5, Gacy, Manson, Skold 3:48
14. "Vodevil"   John 5, Skold 4:39
15. "Obsequey (The Death of Art)" (instrumental) Manson, Skold 1:34

Bonus Tracks

# Title Length
16. "Tainted Love" (Gloria Jones cover, International bonus track) 3:24
17. "Baboon Rape Party" (UK bonus track) 2:41
18. "Paranoiac" (Japan bonus track) 3:57


Chart performance

Album - Charting positions

Year Chart Position
2003 The Billboard 200 1
2003 The European Album Chart 1
2003 Top Internet Albums 1

Singles - Charting positions

Year Single Chart Position
2003 "Mobscene" Mainstream Rock Tracks 18
2003 "Mobscene" Modern Rock Tracks 26

Album - Music recording sales certifications

Year Country Award Number sold
2003 Australia Gold 35,000 copies[12]
2003 Austria Gold 10,000 copies[13]
2003 France Gold 100,000 copies[14]
2003 Germany Gold 250,000 copies[15]
2003 Switzerland Gold 20,000 copies[16]


  1. ^ "The Golden Age Of Grotesque sales". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ The RU Sirius Show » Show #49: The Hipster Whores of Weimar Germany: Mel Gordon pt. 2
  4. ^ "Marilyn Manson". Iomusic News. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  5. ^ Allmusic Review
  6. ^ BBC Manchester Review
  7. ^ Billboard Review
  8. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  9. ^ The Guardian Review
  10. ^ Grein, Paul. "Chart Watch Extra: What A Turkey! The 25 Worst-Selling #1 Albums". Yahoo! Music. November 21, 2008.
  11. ^ Everyone Will Suffer Now, 
  12. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  13. ^ "Gold und Platin Datenbank". IFPI Austria, Verband der Österreichischen Musik Wirstchaft. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  14. ^ "Les certifications Albums - Année 2003". Musique sur Disque en France (SNEP). Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  15. ^ "Gold/Platin Datenbank durchsuchen". - Die deutschen Phonoverbände. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  16. ^ "Search for: Marilyn Manson". The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
Preceded by
Body Kiss by The Isley Brothers feat. Ronald Isley
Billboard 200 number-one album
May 25, 2003 - May 31, 2003
Succeeded by
14 Shades of Grey by Staind

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