Holy Wood in the Shadow of the Valley of Death (explicit) (CD)Category: Death Valley StadiumIn 2000, Marilyn Manson not only was recovering from his fans rejection of Mechanical Animals, he was scarred from Columbine and, worst of all, he was no longer Americas demon dog. What was Brian Warner to do, standing on such uneasy ground? As a smart man and savvy marketer, he knew that it was time to consolidate his strengths, blend Omega with Antichrist Superstar, and return with a harsh, controversial, operatic epic: A vulgar concept album to seduce his core audiences of alienated teens and cultural cops. The resulting album, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), is intended as the third part of the trilogy beginning with Antichrist Superstar, and its convoluted story line is fairly autobiographical, but the amazing thing isnt the story - its that he figured out to meld the hooks and subtle sonic shading of Mechanical Animals with the ugly, neo-industrial metallicisms of Antichrist. Consequently, its easy to see this as the definitive Marilyn Manson album, since its tuneful and abrasive. Then again, much of its charm lies in Manson trying so hard, perfecting details in the concept, lyrics, themes, production, sequencing, the tarot card parodies in the liner notes, the self-theft, the self-consciously blasphemous cover art. Theres so much effort, Holy Wood winds up a stronger and more consistent album than any of his other work. If theres any problem, its that Mansons shock rock seems a little quaint in 2000. Eminems vibrant, surrealistic white-trash fantasias were the sound of 2000, while Marilyn Mansons rock operas, religious baiting, and goth gear are from an era passed. Its to Warners credit as, yes, an artist that Holy Wood works anyway.