Countercultural icons, especially in the music industry, don’t often come out of nowhere. Of course, just 5 years after the release of Marilyn Manson’s debut album, one Brian Warner was in the crossfire of Christian fundamentalists and disgruntled parents alike for supposedly being one of the main reasons the Columbine Shooting happened. As ridiculous as it sounds now, Marilyn Manson’s music was one of the scapegoats for it, though it’s simply not true.
The release of Marilyn Manson’s debut album, Portrait Of An American Family, was a slow-burner of sorts. A vastly different album than the industrial shock-rock/metal that would dominate future records, part of the record was famously recorded in the same house that Sharon Tate was murdered in by…the Manson Family. The album, which was also produced by Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, contained more elements of grunge and alternative metal than were evident in subsequent releases. Though not necessarily a commercial success, the album was led by distinct singles in “Lunchbox” and “Dope Hat”, as well as lead single “Get You Gunn”, which provided much controversy early on – as did their stage shows.
Of course, it wasn’t really until its followup, 1996’s Antichrist Superstar, that put Manson in the eyes of fans – and frightened parents – everywhere. However, the seeds of controversy were sown on this record, and while it does sound a bit dated today, it’s still essential listening for fans who are interested in just why Marilyn Manson was so controversial.